For the inaugural show for Third Streaming, a promising alternative space, Carroll selected thirteen pieces from her expansive series “My Death is Pending Because.,” 1986-2012. The project's earliest entry is a line drawing in nonphoto blue pencil, Study of Brigitte Bardot's Side, 1986 – a bizarre rabbit hole that somehow led to Faulty Landscape, made the same year. Neither entirely hommage to nor feminist critique of Duchamp's notorious Paysage fautif, 1946, the piece involved Carroll obtaining sperm from a donor with physical characteristics similar to her own, and then applying the fluid to a photographic silk screen of the French movie star's behind. From there, the project grew to encompass a diverse cast and crew, from the director of the Tate Liverpool to singer Jose Feliciano. It will finally conclude in 2012, when Carroll destroys her father's Buick in an all-female demolition derby at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, California, and incorporates the car's remains into a sculpture by John Chamberlain.
In the show, situated near two black and white photographies that document her crash into the Munich museum, was an Illy coffee can. The piece, Illy (The Tin is Half Full), 2007, is a biting commentary on product placement; Illy, as the artist notes in her monograph, is a corporation recognized for its patronage in the art world, and this particular can contains the ashes of her father. The tin also links several divergent works together. It was a silent partner in Late, situated in the glove compartment when the artist hit the Munich museum at 35mph with Peter Herbstreuth, then Vice President of the German branch of the International Association of Art Critics, in the passenger seat. The Illy can's next appearance was in 2007's Whatever It Takes at the now defunct exhibition space Power House Memphis. In the performance, represented here in a video, the artist wears a polar bear costume, climbs to the top of the museum's ninety-foot dead smokestack, and dumps half the ashes down the chimney. One could easily identify allusions to an art-historical canon of (mostly male) artists whose practices and actions evoke the absurd, but perhaps it's already clear that Carroll's provocative commentary on advertising and art via a “kick the can” process is unmatched and uniquely her own. Moreover, this work, like Late, functions as a wry example of institutional critique.
Though Carroll touches on a number of art-critical legacies – feminism, appropriation, commodity critique, and more – she never fully inhabits any one. Perhaps this is why there is such a dearth of criticism on her work, and on her slippery social role as a producer; with a practice that is extremely thought-provoking but little understood, she has become an artists' artist. One wonders, though, whether this status appeals to her. For instance, during the opening of this show, a string quartet and a tenor performed two short compositions – pieces Carroll had commissioned herself, asking the composers to write works that would “resemble” her. It seemed a tongue-in-cheek response to a situation in which the artist's gradual disappearance from the art world, whether appealing to her or not, is truly pending.