Vinsent Trasov

Fatherland/ Motherland in a Nutshell

Playing with persona and identity Vincent Trasov slipped into the peanut shell and effortlessly assumed the role of Mr, Peanut with elegance and aplomb. Trasov's interest in film animation had led him to appropriate the easily recognizable and simple to draw Planters Peanut anthropomorphic "Mr. Peanut" First came the flip book which was later translated to film. These early efforts were realized at Intermedia in Vancouver and before long people were calling Trasov Mr. Peanut. Simultaneously Trasov was ideating with Michael Morris a modus operandi for bypassing the existing gallery structure and working directly with artists in a network. This concept became "Image Bank" (now Morris/Trasov Archive) and was earned out largely through the international postal system. With the compiling of address lists and directories and fake bureaucracy this became the preferred means of communication, it was a creative bureaucracy utilising artist's designed stationary, envelopes, postcards, postage stamps. The peanut performance dated from 1969 to 1974. it involved appearances in peanut costume in Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax, New York and Los Angeles. These were mostly street events termed "art city", presenting Mr. Peanutasalargerthanlifepresencethatcreatedaneventoutofeveryappearance. ltwasamixtureofthe familiar with the unexpected. Fellow artist John Mitchell suggested to Trasov that he run as Mr. Peanut in the November 1974 Vancouver mayoralty election as a symbol for artists and their artistic aspirations. Mitchell saw Mr. Peanut as living sculpture, a visual icon in the landscape, belonging to heritage like monuments and landmarks, embodying history and illuminating the present. Michael Morns suggested the campaign platform: P for performance, E for elegance, A for art, N for nonsense, U for uniqueness and T for talent. William Burroughs visited Vancouver and made a formal endorsement of the candidate: I would like to take this opportunity to endorse the candidacy of Mr. Peanut for mayor of Vancouver. Mr. Peanut is running on an art platform, and art is the creation of illusion. Since the inexorable logic of reality has created nothing but insoluble problems, it is now time for illusion to take over. And there can only be one illogical candidate Mr. Peanut. At final counting of the ballots Trasov received 2,685 votes for 3.4% of the vote. HOW DO PEANUTS GET INTO THE GROUND? The French artist Robert Filliou ( 19 - 1987) once proposed that countries should exchange their monuments for a better understanding of each other. That is actually happening. Soviet and Red Army memorials from the Great Fatherland War are cared for and respected in East Germany. German soldiers who died at Stalingrad are being exhumed and there is grief for them amongst many Russians. The town of Coventry, destroyed by German bombs at the beginning of World War II, has constructed and donated a new cupola for the reconstruction of the Frauen Church in Dresden, destroyed by allied bombs at the end of the last war. Gestures of reconciliation. Fatherland means homeland, and a sense of one's own soil. Where borders have been eliminated as in Western Europe, other places with the end of the Soviet Union are more concerned with the difficulties and conflicts of the process of cultural, social, political and economic transformation. Other people still live in the non-place, or as the South African Breyton Breytenbach notes, in the "middle world"." It is distant from east and west, north and south and doesn't lie in the middle. The middle world lies on the"edge, it represents the periphery, the non-place everywhere. It is a sphere of non-aligned, unbound, unrestrained identities, a territory of wanderers of non-citizens". Breytenbach with this concept engages in the debate about transnationality and transculture. He conveys a place of the imagination , of opposition, of a non-homeland and yet a social responsibility. This could mean the imagination and aspiration of the artist.