Monday, September 26, 2011

Baby Marx -- Fun with the Dismal Science

August was a busy month, so I didn't make it over to the Walker Art Center when the Baby Marx show first opened. Big mistake. It was the most fun I've ever had at the Walker.

Created by Pedro Reyes, it's not an exhibit in the usual sense, not even within the off-kilter world of modern art. It's a bunch of excellent puppets and an exquisite set used to make a sitcom about economics.

Karl Marx and Adam Smith are the stars of the show.

Supporting characters include Frederick Taylor and Vladimir Lenin, plus Stalin, Mao, Che Geuvara, and Milton Friedman, among others.

The set is a modernist public library, designed by Reyes, whose background is in architecture. (It's not quite visible here, but there's a miniature surveillance camera to the left of and above the front door.) For scale, imagine that the black framework below is about 4 feet tall; the building is about 20' wide.

Inside, the library is two stories tall, with a pillared balcony encircling the Information desk. Books in Library of Congress order fill the stacks to either side on each floor.

Excerpts from a couple of the shows shot at the Walker are available on small TV monitors around the room -- but I wished for more!

In this scene, from an episode called "Alienation," Marx and Smith argue over a cookie in one of the Walker cafés. Marx has a cookie, while Smith does not. Smith says that if Marx believes in his own words, he'll share the cookie with Smith. Marx replies that if Smith is true to his words, he would have bought his own cookie. And so on.

Just found "Alienation" on YouTube, whoohoo! Here it is. Note that Marx's voice is a dead ringer for Strong Bad, which made the whole thing much funnier:

Baby Marx reminds me of my shallow knowledge of economics. Time to dig out Adam and Karl and do some reading, perhaps.


David Steinlicht said...

That is totally StrongBad's voice. Must be the same guy!

Daughter Number Three said...

I'm pretty sure the Marx voice is done by a local puppeteer. So he must be doing a Strong Bad imitation. I wonder if Pedro Reyes knows that?