Mario Merz Prize

Edition 3


Unknown Friend

Unknown Friend (USA 1980 and 1977)

Unknown Friend is the cooperative pen name concealing the correspondence crumpled between artists Barry Johnston and Stephen G. Rhodes as they palaver their way through a project preoccupied with inappropriate disguises and 19th century pseudonyms, taking its alias from the way Samuel Clemens had Mark Twain make Tom Sawyer tell Huckleberry Finn to sign letters in blood to family members pretending to be friends who turned out to be aliens revealing difficult truths they wished could remain Nonnonymous (sic). Sivilizations Wake is a neverending project, the first transmission of which was presented by Incurva Projects in Palermo, Sicily in 2018.

Stephen G. Rhodes (Houston, USA, 1977) lives and works in Berlin and Louisiana. He makes psycho associative environments that are as dense with referential viscera as they are formally diffuse, broadcasting a damaged material consciousnness.

Barry Johnston (Alton, USA, 1980) lives and works in Berlin, Germany. His sculpture, poetry, and live entertainment are simultaneously destructive and ecstatic. Ornate trashcans for the squandering of life’s energies, Johnston’s work asserts the liberatory potential of a kind of violent celebration of presence, each piece another attempt to conjure an exit, another temporary threshold further into the present moment.