At the front of Pierogi Gallery’s Armory Show booth rests two large Vegas-style slot machines, plugged in and ready for play. These readymades are the work of the artist Andrew Ohanesian, who at last year’s fair displayed a paper towel dispenser at Pierogi’s booth. He also once turned an art gallery into a wrecked suburban house party, complete with red solo cups and tall boys of Bud Heavy.
“If you play it, it doesn’t cash out, you can’t actually win money, but you can cash out and get a printed ticket,” said Pierogi rep Justin Amrhein. “Whatever that cash out is, if you win a million dollars, then your piece is now worth a million dollars.” He additionally explained that the ticket includes the name of the fair, the artist, and a black light signature.
There is an easy joke here about how the entire art world is a large game of chance for the ultra-wealthy, but I would rather just enjoy the machines for their beautiful aesthetics: the linear gradients, the immaculately rendered digital diamonds, and the lo-fi audio bleeps and bloops that remind me of the art collective Forcefield.
When I rolled up to the booth, Amrhein and his uncle Joe (who is the director of the gallery) were attempting to help an older couple fish a dollar into the machine, which was acting finicky. Finally, the currency was accepted and it was time to play. As it goes with slot machines, the whole thing was over very fast.
“That was it? That was quite the experience,” the women was heard saying directly after. Her partner, perhaps more experienced in these kind of things, let out a weary joke before leaving the booth: “Back to the Bellagio.”
For more Armory Week coverage, go here.