Catherine Guiral & Randy Nakamura

Dial “M” For Melrose

In The Name of the Place exhibition. KYLE and AMANDA are standing in front of a dark painting.

I’m digging this exhibit, there’s some phenomenal pieces!

Yeah, Fireflies (pauses) looks like a bunch of dots to me.

More like firefight. Ain’t that tracers, explosions. It’s a bombing of Bagdad.

I guess you saw it close up.


GALA Committee, Fireflies—The Bombing of Bagdad, acrylic on canvas, 183 × 244 cm, c. 1997 (Melrose Place, s5e29)

If you aren’t familiar with the american primetime soap opera Melrose Place, chances are you wouldn’t have guessed this dialogue was taking place in season 5 (1996-1997). Nor would you have had a single clue that this scene’s actual set was MOCA’s 1997 exhibition Uncommon Sense1, a public art show which was witness to a rare and strange commingling of visual arts and prime-time television.

For 1990s viewers Melrose Place is best known as Aaron Spelling’s spin-off from Beverly Hills 90210. If the latter was a typical high school drama, what began on the Fox network in 1992 was, to put it in the words of journalist Richard Vine, “a cloud of hairspray, designer tans and cattiness not seen since Dynasty. [It] followed the increasingly complex lives of a group of neurotic twentysomething ad execs, doctors and bad boy bikers, shafting each other metaphorically and literally in a frenzy of sex, murder, business, bombs and bust-up.”2

This kitschy soap opera became the medium for a type of covert art production that would culminate in a 1998 Sotheby’s auction of subversive pieces carefully insinuated into the art direction of the show. The auction booklet titled Primetime Contemporary Art: Art by the GALA Committee as Seen on Melrose Place, looked more like an art catalog. It is a clue leading us, like August Dupin in The Purloined Letter,3 to unravel an obvious, yet paradoxically hidden, case of infiltration and parasitism.


I feel that certain artworks have to be invented that function in the in-between level of neither/nor. And sometimes if I say too much then I’m pushing it back into the art that is expected or art that is known, and therefore reinforcing the everyday politics of division.
So that’s why my restraint is not to make it more cryptic, but to give the benefit of the doubt.4

In 2001, while discussing about public art in an interview with Tom Finkelpearl, then Program director of PS1 Contemporary Art Center in New York, artist Mel Chin5 seemed to enjoy blurring the lines and wishing for artists to invent artworks that could be of an undecided nature thus allowing a constant ambiguity, a persistent latitude in the way artworks should be interpreted or defined.

Furthermore public art was, in Chin’s opinion something of a postmodern tabula rasa: this is not public art it is something else. The latter was, in this case, the chance meeting of entertainment television and contemporary visual art, the starting point of which being MOCA’s invitation to Mel Chin to create a site specific work of art.

Chin’s appointment as professor of Fine Arts at the University of Georgia in 1994 provided him with both a close relationship to students and a financial comfort to undertake his project. In 1995 he won the CalArts Herb Alpert Award in Visual Arts which required he teaches a minimum of two weeks at the Valencia campus. There he organised a workshop titled “Striptease: Not the Movie,” which was a pretext to explore means to transform primetime TV into public art space. Following his distinctive habit for what critic Suzi Gablik had coined “connective aesthetics,”6 Chin gathered a structured collective made mostly of students and faculty from both Georgia and Los Angeles. The group named itself the GALA Committee (GeorgiA-LosAngeles)7 and was initially formed to work on “developing and placing site-specific art objects on the sets of the popular television series Melrose Place8:

Television media is for now (this will change) a site of profound power that allows for the generational transfer of ideas […] What happens when we think of ideas not as having the typical three month life-span in a gallery, but as having a life span within commercial TV, re-running until you finally “get it.”9


Mel Chin, Drawing for the Ecology of In the Name of the Place, c. 1997

As we will later see, choosing Melrose Place was not just a whim. At the time Mel Chin was also studying video games and viruses, comparing the viruses’ behaviors to that of arcade snipers. For Chin these players were inserting themselves within a video game in a symbiotic way, trying to understand the intimate and complex structure of their host. It was exactly this types of move that Chin and Co. replicated on the sets of the campy soap show10: “I was wondering, how do you get an idea into a system, and let it replicate within that system,” said Chin.11 His strategies for the collection of objects he and the GALA members inserted into Aaron Spelling’s TV show was based on a gregarious and almost biological approach: viral imagery modeled on parasitic behavior.


Art is the place that produces a specific sociability [precisely because] it tightens the space of relations, unlike TV.12

Chin’s plan of action was to annex the very structure (scripts and sets) of Melrose Place. The fictitious props smuggled into the show from 1995 to 1997 were labelled noncommercial PIMs (Product Insertion Manifestations). Strategically adopting the conventions of a mass medium,13 PIMs covered a spectrum of critical issues rarely if ever addressed by the series:

Although the artworks are not intended to subvert or parody the series, the foibles and passions of the characters often provide the opportunity to create artworks of dual and triple meanings that address topics like gender, infectious diseases, violence, environmental devastation, and global conflict.14

Working in close collaboration with Deborah Siegel set decorator on the show, GALA’s associative network quickly involved all the production teams and appropriated the working skeleton of the TV series. Constance Penley, an early member of GALA and chair of the department of film studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, recalls:

To this day I cannot believe Spelling Entertainment let a bunch of students and crazy artists have the scripts of Melrose Place—we had the state secrets of television! We knew what was going to happen to Kimberley’s brain tumour and Alison’s pregnancy. We were just copying scripts like crazy, going through them to find places for our pieces, and we also got them to rewrite scripts around our pieces.15

Indeed, of all the art-enhanced episodes of Melrose, season 4, episode 27, may have unveiled the whole mystification. Until then no one but a few accomplices really knew what was happening:

[…] even most of the people closest to the art—the actors—had no idea [fake props] were there. Not until six months later, when one of the producers objected to a computer-enhanced picture that showed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, in Oklahoma City, with a crater shaped like a vodka bottle hollowed out of it […] When the producer notified his boss, Aaron Spelling, the king of prime-time tinsel was delighted to hear that art had found its way on to one of his shows, and he rubber-stamped Chin’s request for direct access to the Melrose production team. Hollywood had spoken.16

GALA’s methodology could have potentially worked with any show airing on American TV at that time. While In The Name of the Place was initiated by an invitation made to Chin by the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art to do a piece about the city of LA, he was convinced that it should imply primetime television. Mel Chin liked the Duchampian implications of appropriating a mass culture object:

I didn’t specifically chose Melrose, I wasn’t even watching that kind of stuff. But when I accidentally saw it, we could make some parallels like “Melrose-Selavy,” a Duchampian pun [but not just on my first name] […] What was intriguing is that [the project] was an opportunity to really bridge something.17

American primetime television thus provided for Mel Chin a field of appropriation that could also be understood as a “situation trouvée.”18 An evident reference to the French Surrealists’ notion of “objets trouvés,” which defined any found object (whether manufactured or of natural origin) used mostly in assemblages, the situation trouvée can be understood as a space of incorporation, an ideal terrain born out of operations such as selection and appropriation. Setting out to find the proper object or situation to be appropriated, Mel Chin took advantage of a given situation to question the role of television.

Following this scheme, the TV show offered itself as a situation trouvée. Its storylines became the nests where product placements, mainly designed to be double entendres, occupied the décors of Melrose. Season 4 and 5, running from 1996 to 1997, were appropriated by GALA with the strategic placement of more than one hundred banal and camouflaged objects on set. GALA’s art objects subverted normative readings of the TV show. These interventions could have been seen (and potentially deciphered) by millions of viewers.

The soap was the chosen host of a fictitious museum swarmed with objects defined by the stories told and which, in return, redefined these stories. The so-called PIMs would ultimately be revealed in season 5, episode 28, astutely titled Deja Vu, All Over Again, which aired on April 14, 1997. In March of that same year, Mel Chin and the GALA Committee were indeed installing their work in the Uncommon Sense exhibition spaces at the Museum of Contemporary Art.19 As a grand final to the project, it was agreed with the show producers that an entire scene would be shot in the actual space occupied by the GALA Committee at MOCA.

Thus in a storyline where fiction meets art, Amanda Woodward, the provocative head of advertising agency D&D, brings her love interest Kyle McBride to an art opening at MOCA which ironically also happens to be one of D&D’s clients. Within this game of fictive reality and real fiction, it is worth noting that, as Alfred Hitchcock often did in his own movies, Mel Chin and Deborah Siegel can both be spotted walking and chatting behind Kyle and Amanda. As suggested by Joshua Decter, this was a highly evocative “new type of cultural fusion”20 and a perfect means to conclude the infiltration process.

While touring the exhibition, Amanda and Kyle are mindlessly gazing at a collection of objects, paintings, sculptures that have no other function than being the keys allowing to unravel two years of visible-invisible21 infiltration within the space of their own fiction. What follows is an incomplete and (slightly) revamped script of GALA’s archives22 classifying some of the designed objects and their hidden histories in relation to the show’s scripts.

First aired on February 12, 1996

This was one of [our] first product insertions to air on network television.
Deborah Siegel, the head set decorator, said, “We’re going to be shooting a bedroom scene in Peter’s apartment, why don’t you do something with the bed linens.”
We’d noticed that the characters on the show have a lot of sex but are never depicted using condoms or contraceptives, so we turned this bedroom scene into a safe-sex PSA [Public Service Announcement], although we had to break the law to do it.
The lovely gray, serial pattern on the sheets? Images of unrolled condoms, which, according to FCC [Federal Communications Commission] regulations, are not allowed to be shown on television.23


GALA Committee, Safety Sheets, hand-screened ink on queensize cotton sheets (bedset for Peter Burn’s beachouse), c. 1996 (Melrose Place, s4e22)

First aired on March 18, 1996

“You can’t do it.” Alison’s last words at D&D Advertising were prophetic.
Her final screen moment as a D&D employee was almost the end of the GALA Committee.
Total Proof was a photo of the Oklahoma Bombing made to resemble a vodka ad campaign.
[We] told the producers the piece was about the destructive nature of alcohol and violence in media. They didn’t buy it. The piece was ruled too offensive to be broadcast.
Triumph of the Bill was shot during a period known as “double-ups,” when two episodes were shot simultaneously. Maybe it was the chaos of double-ups. Maybe it was a rebellious member of the production crew. Either way, Total Proof was accidentally placed on the set in direct violation of the producers’ orders.
An emergency meeting between GALA and Executive Producer Frank South was held to discuss the incident.
The solution: GALA would fax drawings and descriptions of proposed artworks to South’s office for approval.24


GALA Committee, Total Proof, computer-altered photographic image on foam core, 64 × 74 cm, c. 1996-1997 (Melrose Place, s4e27)

First aired on September 23, 1996

As the relationship between art and Primetime television grew, [we were] granted access to the show’s scripts as they were being written. The arrangement was made initially to give the artists enough lead-time to identify upcoming scenes that might lend themselves to “infection.” What began as an exercise in logistics resulted in several direct collaborations between the writers and the artists.
In this particular instance, the script called for Jane to stab Richard’s corpse with a brooch confirming that [he] was, indeed, deceased.
[We] theorized that, conceptually, we had infected Melrose Place with ideas much the same way a virus infects a cell. Alluding to this construct, the artists proposed the “Mosquito Brooch”—a reference to the Yellow Fever virus: an infectious disease on the CDC’s [Center for Disease Control] list of viruses most likely to make an epidemic resurgence in the next 20 years. Yellow Fever is spread by the Aedes Egypti mosquito. Remember when Sam volunteered her “grandmother’s antique Egyptian brooch” so Jane could poke Richard’s corpse? It’s because [we] asked the writers to include the Egyptian line in order to make the brooch’s meaning apparent.
Later that night on a Melrose Place chat room, fans picked up on the deliberate reference and speculated that it was a hidden message.25



GALA Committee, Mosquito Brooch, silver glass, steel, 9,5 × 4,5 × 19 cm, c. 1996-1997 (Melrose Place, s5e03)

First aired on September 23, 1996

[In the same episode, we] transformed the entire bar into a pictoral history of alchohol and consumption in the United States. There’s more than 70 individual bottle labels plus hand-blown glass decanters, pictures and nick-nacks […] all inspired by events in US history that were related to alcohol in one way or another. […] The bar is [indeed] a timeline of the history of alcohol and consumption in the United States, 1700 to present, and also represents issues related to alcohol consumption.26 [One of the shelves visible thus acts as an historical section spanning from 1900 to 1930 depicting] events from the early part of the 20th Century, which saw the resurgence of temperance movements which ultimately led to prohibition. The final bottle label is a reproduction of the the 21st amendment, effectively ending America’s brief experiment with federally mandated sobriety.27 [Amongst others one can try and detect several bottles’ labels including:]
- [a cover] for a piece of sheet music to an actual “temperance song.” This particular toe-tapper, We pray, ’tis all that we can do (c.1900), is by one George F. Root. Songs were a major weapon in the temperance movement’s protest arsenal.28
[- another label represents the 1905 Collier’s Weekly Magazine exposure of quake medecine better known as the “snake oil” industry].
A genuinely surprised nation learned that grandmother's cure-all was equal parts cocaine and alcohol. After 80 years of national popularity and acceptance, the patent medicine industry vanished literally overnight—an indication of the public’s growing appetite for sensation and scandal in mass media.29


GALA Committee, Shooter’s Bar, wood, blown glass, metal, carved granite, commercial glass, paint, electric components, glassware, approx. 366 × 488 × 244 cm, c. 1996-1997 (Melrose Place, s5e03)

First aired on November 18, 1996

The Chinese takeout boxes and paper bags are a good example of the many pieces we made for the future international audiences of Melrose Place […]
When Kimberly brought Michael Chinese takeout while he was on rounds at Wilshire Memorial, she was carrying another secret—the takeout bags read “human rights” and “turmoil and chaos”—phrases which came out of the Tiennamen Square massacre.
The first in a series of three, these pieces were specifically created to address Melrose’s internationally syndicated audience of millions.
Perhaps, someday, Melrose re-runs will air in Beijing. How that country’s censors will deal with this secret message has yet to be determined.30




GALA Committee, Food for Thought, computer generated images on paper boxes and paper bags, various sizes (the logo reads “Turmoil & Chaos” [top] and “Human Rights” [bottom]), c. 1996-1997 (Melrose Place, s5e09)

First aired on December 16, 1996

One of the characters on the show, Sam, is a painter.
[Her paintings] look distinctively (and deliberatly) like David Hockney’s paintings with their bright pastels and flat, sun-drenched LA facades. But Sam’s paintings depict the less sunny parts of Southern California life: they are all scenes of infamous LA locations where horrible violence or death occurred.
The first in the series is based on a police photograph of Marilyn Monroe’s bungalow taken on the day she died. The auction paddles, made for the scene where Sam’s paintings are being sold at a charity auction, mimic Marilyn’s curves and are numbered with her measurements [35-22-35] […] Other of her paintings include: the condo from which the Rodney King beating was filmed, the Viper Room where River Phoenix died of an overdose, [the Melrose pool where Brooke was found dead], the Ambassador Hotel where Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated, Nicole Brown Simpson’s house, O.J.’s Brentwood estate, Sharon Tate’s house, and The La Bianca mansion.31


GALA Committee, Death Becomes Her, Sam’s LA Paintings: Marilyn Monroe’s House, 91,4 × 61 cm, c. 1996-1997 (Melrose Place, s5e13)


GALA Committee, Death Becomes Her, Sam’s LA Paintings: Marilyn Monroe’s House, 91,4 × 61 cm, c. 1996-1997 (Melrose Place, s5e07)


GALA Committee, The Ambassador Hotel where Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated, acrylic on canvas, approx. 61 × 92 cm, c. 1996-1997 (Melrose Place, s5e10)


GALA Committee, Auction Paddle (35), acrylic on wood, size unknown, c. 1996-1997 (Melrose Place, s5e13)


GALA Committee, Auction Paddle (22), acrylic on wood, size unknown, c. 1996-1997 (Melrose Place, s5e13)

First aired on March 10, 1997

[…] This is the quilt Alison uses while she is bedridden with her complicated pregnancy.
By episode’s end, Alison has a miscarriage.
Abortion is something female characters cannot opt for on Primetime television […] Networks censor themselves so that they won’t risk losing advertisers who fear right-wing Christian boycotts. To put speech about choice back into network television, we wrapped Alison (for two whole episodes) in this lovely homemade quilt whose pattern is the chemical structure of RU-486, the abortion drug widely used in Europe but until recently banned in the U.S.32



GALA Committee, RU-486 Quilt, applique on cotton fabric, 158,5 × 135 cm, c. 1997 (Melrose Place, s5e25)

First aired on March 10, 1997

[In the same episode], Michael visits a “seedy-hotel” looking for his ex-prostitute wife.
The night clerck of the hotel is reading a book titled Libidinal Economy, a postmodern art-theory written by Jean-François Lyotard which is a required reading at CalArts […] Lyotard’s book postulates that all systems of exchange are libidinal (pleasure driven). He uses the “prostitute/pimp” relationship to illustrate his broad notion of exchange, and applies his theories to contemporary art practice […].
When asked by the clerck if he’s looking for a room, Michael quips “I’m not looking for a room, I’m looking for a woman!”33



Jean-François Lyotard, Libidinal Economy, trans. Iain Hamilton Grant (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), paperback, 28 × 20 × 3 cm (Melrose Place, s5e24)

In The Name of the Place exhibition. KYLE and AMANDA are standing in front of a poster of “Uncommon Sense.”

You know, I wanted to major in art.


But it wasn’t practical. So I majored in business and minored in art. I went through this bohemian stage where I considered forgetting about money and I just wanted to travel and paint. That was my dream.

What changed?

Poverty sucks!

In a way, The Name of the Place could be understood as a hidden form of parasitism, one that would obliquely point to Marcel Broodthaers’ aphorism on the revelatory potential of fiction: “Fiction enables us to grasp reality and at the same time that which is veiled by reality.”34 Imitating the behaviour of the virus, the GALA Committee has colonised and furthermore transformed the sets of 1990s soap opera Melrose Place into a cabinet of invisible curiosities. A hosting space that became a pretext for displaying or rather inserting a collection of objects. These were designed specifically to interact with the scripts of the show while at the same time delivering subversive and coded messages echoing the political and social context of the times.

Here we could draw another oblique parallel with the work of Marcel Broodthaers, namely his 1975 installation Décor: A Conquest by Marcel Broodthaers at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London. Marcel Broodthaers’ conquest was to occupy the institutional space turning the ICA into a concrete film-set. Objects displayed were given a “real function”:

According to Barry Barker, then curator at the ICA, Broodthaers’ intention had been to make a film for which the exhibition would be the set […] Whereas Broodthaers usually altered the objects he used rather than present them as readymades, in Décor: A Conquest by Marcel Broodthaers this was not the case. Most of the objects were in fact rented from a supplier of film props. Once the exhibition was over they could be used in many other non-gallery settings, as props rather than as art objects.35

Similarly, the GALA Committee tried to conquer and occupy the set decorations of a TV show which became the discreet battlefield of a constructive conflict between GALA and the producers of Melrose. Generating a creative environment where artworks could be disseminated within “the organism of the television industry,”36 Chin and his collaborators distanced themselves from the authority of museums and television networks.

Following Broodthaers’ “esprit décor,”37 the cryptic objects were “unraveling what is yet to be known. Facing the risk of being (obviously) obscure, they still carried the promises of a discovery.”38 Hidden in plain sight, the objects were broadcasting their coverted messages in a parasitical way, transparently hijacking and perverting the very means of entertainment TV. As Cher Krause Knight mentions:

[…] In a way elitism still persists here; one needs to be an art world insider who knows GALA’s project, or a fan who has viewed enough Melrose Place reruns, to recognize and contextualize the artworks. But in another sense the project is quite egalitarian: anyone with a TV has the chance to uncover GALA’s embedded socio-political subtexts, which challenges stereotypical notions of the TV viewer’s passivity and limited intellect.39

The 1998 Sotheby’s auction may have dispersed the physical evidences of this “viral attack,” yet the endless reruns of Melrose Place (in syndication in over forty countries), offers an intriguing coda to this fictitious museum of PIMs. Perpetually bound to its host, In the Name of the Place may have finally found the best way to sustain its existence beyond a gallery or museum. The GALA Committee in fact envisioned its future up until 2021.40 Until then, there’s no Sunset for Melrose…

  1. Uncommon Sense, Six Projects Explore Social Interactions and Art, Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles, 16 March—6 July 1997. 

  2. Richard Vine, “The Revolution has been televised,” in The Guide (sunday supplement), The Guardian, №29 (July 2000). Available online: [last accessed July 1, 2014]. 

  3. During a seminar on The Purloined Letter, Jacques Lacan reveals that “[w]hat is hidden is never but what is missing from its place.” This is the very essence of the novel which demonstrates the process where something that everyone thinks is hidden is actually blatantly visible: hidden in plain sight. See Jacques Lacan, “Seminar on The Purloined Letter,” trans. Jeffrey Mehlman, Yale French Studies, №48 (1972). Available online: [last accessed August 7, 2013]. 

  4. Tom Finkelpearl, “Mel Chin on Revival Field,” in Dialogues in Public Art (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2001), 406. 

  5. Mel Chin, a Texan born in 1951 and trained at Peabody College, is known for a wide range of public artworks ranging, as Finkelpearl mentions, “from permanent Percent for Art projects to temporary self-initiated responses to political events.” Chin’s collaborative methodology of work has been described as the building of a complex, sometimes virtually impenetrable web of meanings. See Finkelpearl, “Mel Chin on Revival Field,” 385. 

  6. Suzi Gablik, “Connective Aesthetics,” American Art, vol. 6, №2 (Spring 1992): 2. In this essay, Gablik advocates for a “reenchantement” of the art milieu, moving away from the monolithic figure formed in modern times of an “autonomous individualist […] free and self sufficient.” She favors a collaborative driven approach to art, one that puts forward a balance between the Western individualism and a new sense of community. 

  7. Amongst the members of the Committee were Chip Hayes script writer on Melrose from 1994 to 1998, Frank South, executive producer of the show, but also Constance Penley, chair of Film and Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara or Tom Lawson then teaching at the School of Art at CalArts. For a complete list of the GALA Committee members see: John R. Hall, Blake Stimson, and Lisa Tamiris Becker, eds., Visual Worlds (London: Routledge, 2005), 111. 

  8. Brent Zerger, “GALA Committee, In the Name of the Place,” in Russell Ferguson, Stephanie Emerson, eds., Uncommon Sense (Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1997), 123. 

  9. “Mel Chin Conversando con Ute Meta Bauer y Fareed Armaly,” Trans>arts-culture-media, №8 (2000): 174-182. Extract available online: [last accessed July 27, 2013]. 

  10. Glen Sparer, “Art As Creative Virus and Host in the work of Mel Chin,” SWITCH Social Networks 2, date unknown. 

  11. Astrid Wege, “Mel Chin at Thomas Rehbein Galerie,” Artforum, vol. 49, №11 (September 2011): 360-61. 

  12. Nicolas Bourriaud quoted in Claire Bishop’s “The Social Turn: Collaboration and Its Discontents,” * Artforum*, vol. 44, №6 (February 2006): 178-83. 

  13. Soap operas acquired their moniker from the products advertised during their shows. Products were often integrated into the story line, purposely fusing advertising and entertainment: “Product placement—also known as product brand placement, in-program sponsoring, branded entertainment, or product integration—is a marketing practice in advertising and promotion wherein a brand name, product, package, signage, or other trademark merchandise is inserted into and used contextually in a motion picture, television, or other media vehicle for commercial purposes.” See: Kaylene Williams, Alfred Petrosky, Edward hernandez, Robert Page, “Product placement effectiveness: revisited and renewed,” Journal of Management and Marketing Research, vol. 7 (2011). Available online: [last accessed 14 August 2013]. 

  14. Brent Zerger, “GALA Committee, In the Name of the Place.” 

  15. Richard Vine, “The Revolution has been televised.” 

  16. See: Ted Katauskas, “AGITPOP,” The New Yorker (March 1997): 35. 

  17. Glen Sparer, Art As Creative Virus and Host in the work of Mel Chin

  18. Johannes Meinhardt’s concept of the “situation trouvée” was first mentioned to discuss the work of artist Louise Lawler. See: Johannes Meinhardt, “The Sites of Art: Photographing the In-Between,” in Louise Lawler, An Arrangement of Pictures (New York: Assouline, 2003), unpagined. 

  19. MOCA’s show Uncommon Sense, Six Projects Explore Social Interactions and Art (March 16—July 6, 1997) was organised by Julie Lazar, director of Experimental Programs, and Tom Finkelpearl, MOCA Ahmanson Curatorial Fellow. 

  20. See Joshua Decter, “GALA Committee, January 16—March 7, 1998” (1997). Available online: [last accessed August 5, 2013]. 

  21. As the internet was getting more popular in the mid-nineties, the GALA Committee decided it might be an effective tool to interact with fans of Melrose Place. With the assistance of Heather Champ, one of the early webdesigners now famous for being the co-founder of the online community consultancy Fertile Medium, the Committee created “Eliza”: a fictional fan of the show. During the show’s seasons 4 and 5, Eliza would post on her site’s fake homepage, pointing to the strange things she would notice on the episodes of Melrose Place. As a matter of fact, Eliza was the perfect “mule” and “tool.” She leaked informations made up by GALA, uncovering the “hidden messages” and measuring the ways in which the Melrose’s fandom was reacting to the crypted props. 

  22. Details of artworks from In the Name of the Place project (1995-1997) are available online at: [Last accessed August 4, 2013]. The site has been updated until May 31, 2000 by designer Jon Lapointe and a team of students from the GALA Committee. Contents editor was professor Constance Penley (see note 9) now co-director of the Carsey-Wolf Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). The site, hosted by the UCSB, remains the main source of tracability for the objects appearing on the show.
    It is also worth noting that work of the GALA Committee was presented at the Schürmann gallery in Berlin in 2006 (Mel Chin and GALA Committee—Art as seen on Melrose Place, from July to September 2006). 

  23. Ibid. Safety Sheets, hand-screened ink on queensize cotton sheets (bedset for Peter Burn’s beachouse), c. 1996. 

  24. Ibid. Total Proof, computer-altered photographic image on foam core, 64 × 74 cm, c. 1996-1997. 

  25. Ibid. Mosquito Brooch, silver glass, steel, 9,5 × 4,5 × 19 cm, c. 1996-1997. 

  26. Ibid. Shooter’s Bar, wood, blown glass, metal, carved granite, commercial glass, paint, electric components, glassware, approx. 366 x 488 x 244 cm, c.1996-1997. 

  27. Ibid. 

  28. Ibid. Temperance Song, bottle label, approx. 10 × 14 cm, c. 1996-1997. 

  29. Ibid. Collier’s Cure, bottle label, approx. 13 × 16 cm, c. 1996-97. For more details on the snake oil industry see: Ann Anderson, Snake Oil, Hustlers and Hambones: The American Medicine Show (Jefferson: McFarland & Company Inc., 2000), 156 sqq. 

  30. Ibid. Food for Thought, computer generated images on paper boxes and paper bags, various sizes (the logo reads ‘Turmoil & Chaos’ [top] and ‘Human Rights’ [bottom]), c. 1996-1997. 

  31. Ibid. Death Becomes Her, Sam’s LA Paintings: Marilyn Monroe’s House, 91,4 × 61 cm, c. 1996-1997. 

  32. Ibid. RU-486 Quilt, applique on cotton fabric, 158,5 × 135 cm, c. 1997. 

  33. Ibid. Jean-François Lyotard, Libidinal Economy, trans. Iain Hamilton Grant (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), paperback, 28 × 20 × 3 cm. 

  34. When discussing the work of Marcel Broodthaers, Krauss mentions fiction has being the “master medium” for Broodthaers: “For fiction always seems to have contained a revelatory aspect for him; as he said of the difference between official museums and his own […] What is at issue in the context of a medium, however, is not just this possibility of exploiting the fictional to unmask reality’s lies, but of producing an analysis of fiction itself in relation to a specific structure of experience. And it was just this structure of a spatial ‘behind’ or layering that was for him a metaphor for the condition of absence that is at the heart of fiction.” See: Rosalind Krauss, “A Voyage on the North Sea”: Art in the Age of the Post-medium Condition (New York: Thames & Hudson, 1999), 47. 

  35. See: Deborah Schultz, Marcel Broodthaers: Strategy and Dialogue (Bren: Peter Lang AG, 2007), 178-179.  

  36. Yilmaz Dziewior, “GALA Committee,” Artforum, vol. 38, №10 (Summer 2000): 193-94. 

  37. Describing the setting of the Salle Blanche consisting of a room covered with descriptive and recontextualized inscriptions and created for the exhibition L’Angélus de Daumier at the Centre national d’art contemporain (CNAC) in 1975, Broodthaers explains: “I have tried to articulate in a different way the objects and pictures made on dates ranging between 1964 and this year, to form the rooms in the spirit of ‘décor.’ That is to say, to give back to the object or painting a real function. The décor is not an end in itself.” See: Schultz, Marcel Broodthaers, 178. 

  38. Our translation. Marie Muracciole, “…Une fiction permet de saisir la réalité et en même temps ce qu’elle cache,” Le Portique, №5 (2000). Available online: [Last accessed August 4, 2013]. 

  39. Cher Kraus Knight, Public Art: Theory, Practice and Populism (Oxford: Wiley—Blackwell Publishing, 2008), 177. 

  40. John R. Hall, Blake Stimson, and Lisa Tamiris Becker, eds., Visual Worlds, 109-110. 

Published on <o> future <o>, June 11, 2014.

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