Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty: Entertainment by Dan Graham, Tony Oursler and Rodney Graham

Curator: Sandra Antelo-Suarez
Commissioner and Producer: TRANS>
Featuring Japanther and Huber Marionettes.
Installation by Laurent P. Berger
A live musical theater work about American culture: a Rock-Opera Puppet-Concert

Presented as a work in progress at:
Art Basel Miami Beach, December 1-5, 2004
Wiener Festwochen, Vienna, June 3-7, 2005
Staatsoper Unter Den Linden, Berlin, June 10-14, 2005
Walker Art Center January 5-8, 2006

Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty will be premiered in its final version in New York May 2006 following its installation at the Whtiney Biennial 2006. The installation for the performance will be exhibited at the Whitney Museum while the live 60 min. rock-opera puppet concert will be presented concurrently at Dia Center for the Arts, Chelsea.

Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty, Entertainment by Dan Graham with Tony Oursler and Other Collaborators, was conceived by Dan Graham with visual conception and videos by Tony Oursler, recorded songs written and performed by Rodney Graham, and live music written and performed by the band Japanther. Phillip Huber, the master puppeteer of Being John Malkovich has designed and constructed the puppets. The environment/ installation design (including stage and light design) is by Laurent P. Berger. The curator is Sandra Antelo-Suarez.

Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty charts the career of twenty-four-year-old rock singer Neil Sky, who is elected President of the United States after instigating teenage riots to change the voting age to fourteen and putting LSD in the drinking water of the Congress. But once President Sky retires the over-thirty population in LSD re-conditioning camps, he faces his own unique demise.

Envisioned as a genuine satiric history of the hippy generation and the end of the psychedelic era, the opera’s tragi-comic narrative is the reductio ad absurdum of the hippies “general politics” contained in the 1960s youth slogan: “Don’t trust anyone over thirty,” a ‘hippie’ notion that after one turns thirty, one becomes an impotent member of the establishment. Seen from hindsight thirty-five years later through the eyes of the 1960s youngsters now grown old, the effect is one of bitter reflection over time, whereby we witness a hip generation’s indictment of their own shallow seduction by the cult of youth and the fascistic tendencies that can overwhelm even the most idealistic movement left unchecked.

Structurally, Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty is a narrative comprised of a “schizophrenic” overlapping of textures, counterpoints, slogans, and clichs. The resulting overlay of musical, opera, puppet theater, and video media is formulated as a sequence of “extensions,” a notion that Dan Graham has utilized with great effect throughout the body of his work. Continually splicing disparate media together-opera and rock, the proscenium and the television screen, the 1960s and the 2000s, real people and puppets, the living experience and the installation-Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty deliberately separates the visual and dramatic elements to underline how the narrative components overlap, while making the objects and subjects of time and culture interchangeable for both the art and the audience.

Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty
, a theatrical rock-opera puppet show conceived by Dan Graham, is a satiric reductio ad absurdum of the American belief in youth and the ‘hippie’ notion that after one turns thirty, one becomes an impotent member of the establishment. Based on a late sixties teen-film, the plot involves a twenty-four year old rock star who lives in a ‘hippie pad’ with his girlfriend, an adopted son, members of his rock group, a twenty year old Chinese-American astrologer and female back-up singer, and genius fifteen year old black ‘Brain Trust’ adviser and accountant. Neil Sky is asked by a Kennedy-style Congressman for his support in his race to become Senator, sunning on the platform of giving eighteen year olds the right to vote. Sky, at the rally, performs a song suggesting an even lower voting age, “14 or Fight.”

After the congressman is elected, Sky and his ‘Sky Tribe’ concoct a plan to push fourteen as the new voting age and the lowest age to be President. His older girlfriend becomes a Washington lobbyist, hosting a party for lawmakers where LSD is planted in their drinks. Stoned on LSD, they are herded into voting for a bill to lower the voting age and limit for Presidency to fourteen. It passes although not without the objection of a seventy year old Senator Albright, who observes ruefully, that ‘Youth is wasted on young people.”

Sky decides to run for President and is overwhelmingly elected. He advocates ending all foreign policy, saving the whales, and a return to rustic values – a trend of late sixties culture. The new President moves the Washington White House to the Summer White House in rural Camp David. His first act as President is to order all citizens over thirty to report to government rehabilitation centers where they are given LSD in their drinking water.

A family problem arises when President Sky leaves Camp David for a trip, leaving his [adopted son] Dylan, who protests being left alone at Camp David. Dylan revolts against his father’s paternalism and plans a coup, like his dad, against all those over ten. When Sky returns home totally drugged out, Dylan tells him that he is too stoned to be President. Dylan and his friend Zena (modeled after Zena, the Princess Warrior) hands President Sky a piece of paper for him to sign, telling him it is from school. Sky signs it without reading it. In fact, the president has signed the document resigning himself from the Presidency and making Dylan the new President. Finally, Dylan tells his father that a hearse is waiting to take him to the recording studio to cut a new album and to see his old friends, when actually it will be taking him to a drug rehabilitation center.

About TRANS>
TRANS> is a not-for-profit arts and culture organization devoted to supporting innovative contemporary artists. Based in New York City, TRANS> has a publishing division, an exhibition space in Chelsea, and curates exhibitions in public spaces throughout the world. In each of its departments TRANS> brings cutting edge art and cultural productions to the international public. TRANS> was founded in 1995, the year that the first issue of its publication, TRANS> debuted. Artists such as Gabriel Orozco, Olafur Eliasson, and Arturo Herrera have done projects for the pages of TRANS>, and the journal is now on its eleventh issue. In 2002, after the success of the publication, TRANS> founded its exhibition space.  Since its inception, the gallery has given first solo exhibitions in New York City to emerging artists, many of whom have gone on to be well recognized, including Anri Sala, Koo Jeong-a, Yang Fudong, and Daniel Guzman.  In addition to hosting the innovative shows in its gallery space in New York, TRANS> also curates offsite projects.  In 2002, TRANS> commissioned the critically acclaimed, A Smile Without a Cat, a fireworks piece by Pierre Huyghe and Phippe Parreno that debuted on the inaugural night of Art Basel Miami 2002.   A Smile Without a Cat is one of many offsite projects TRANS> has produced, others include Utopia Shelters and En el Cielo.

About Foundation 20 21
Foundation 20 21, co-producer of Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty, is a New York based arts organization and collecting entity with a mission to nourish exchanges among artists, writers, filmmakers, historians and philosophers as well as to present to a wider audience some of the most arresting work being produced in our increasingly complex visual culture. While assembling a collection with an aim to build bridges between key developments in 20th and 21st Century art, Foundation 20 21 mounts occasional exhibitions of overlooked or forgotten work from the past in order to bring to light its relevance to our times. Shows of recent acquisitions, unusual publishing projects, artist presentations, lectures, film and video screenings are also part of the program. Founded by Tim Nye and Miguel Abreu as an outgrowth of Thread Waxing Space, the Soho art center which closed its doors in the Summer of 2001 after a ten year run, Foundation 20 21 focuses on creating a congenial environment for the presentation of art and the debate of ideas. With an intimate exhibition space located in the National Arts Club, at 15 Gramercy Park South, New York, Foundation 20 21 was conceived to become a flexible cultural enterprise capable of quick responses and dedicated to the re-enchantment of art and the nurturing of vision.

About TBA21
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary foundation, co-producer of Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty, was founded under the leadership of Francesca von Habsburg, and continues the 4th generation of the Thyssen family’s passion of supporting the arts. TBA21 promotes and supports contemporary artistic creation by collecting important and challenging works of art from established and emerging artists, commissioning site specific projects, supporting a unique “artist in residence” program,  presenting exhibitions in unconventional formats, developing distinctive educational programs, and publishing unique art editions.
Other TBA21 projects for this year also include the loan of artworks and co-curation of the exhibition Einleuchten – (opening exhibition in July of the Museum der Moderne Salzburg) as well as major collaborations with artists Julian Rosefeldt, Kutlug Ataman, Darren Almond, Olafur Eliasson, Janet Cardiff, Candice Breitz and Olaf Nicolai.


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Sandra Antelo-Suarez is the Founder/Director of TRANS>, an editor, an independant curator and most recently, the Curator of Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty. Sandra invited the artists to collaborate and conceptualized the interweaving of video, live music, and marionettes.

LAURENT P. BERGER, artist – installation, set and light designer
Laurent P. Berger, artist and set designer for theater & opera, lives and works in Paris. He creates videos, installations, performances, and photography. His stage credits include: Fragments Koltès, by Bernard-Marie Koltès (Théâtre de la Ville, Paris, 1999) with Catherine Marnas; Der Jasager by Kurt Weill (Opéra de Montpellier, 2002) with Giuseppe Frigeni; Le Chemin de Damas by August Strindberg (Théâtre National de la Colline, 2004) with Robert Cantarella; Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare (Juneau-Alaska, 2001) with Peter Dubois; and Der Fliegende Holländer by Richard Wagner (Deutsches Nationaltheater of Wiemar, 2003) with Dame Gwyneth Jones. Since 1998, he has collaborated in various projects with Robert Wilson among them: Winterreise by Franz Schubert (Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, 2001), Aïda by Guiseppe Verdi (Théâtre de La Monnaie, 2002 Bruxelles; Covent Garden, London, 2003; Théâtre de La Monnaie, Bruxelles, 2004), and Alceste by Christoph Willibald Gluck (Théâtre de La Monnaie, Bruxelles, 2004). Currently he is preparing the set design for Diptychon directed by Claudia Meyer at the Ruhr Festspiele in Germany and a solo exhibition Dancing allowed at the gallery Volume!, Rome.

, artist
Dan Graham’s cultural involvement began in the 1960s as a rock critic. An innovative first-generation conceptual artist whose work has been exhibited in major art institutions around the world, Graham has broken significant ground as a theoretician and writer by introducing rock music into the discourse of art, criticism, and cultural theory, culminating in the 1992 publication, Rock My Religion, a book of essays edited by Bruce Wallis dealing with these themes. He has won numerous awards, including The French Vermeil Award (2001), The Skowhegan Medal for Mixed Media (1992), and the Coutts Contemporary Art Foundation Award (1992). His work is included in important collections domestically and abroad, and he has had recent solo shows at Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada (2003), Chiba City Museum of Art, Chiba, Japan (2003), Kitayushu Municipal Museum of Art, Fukuoka, Japan (2003), Marian Goodman Gallery, New York (2002), and Museo Serralves, Porto, Portugal (2001). Graham’s work has also been presented in such notable group shows as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles (2004), Fundacio Joan Miro, Barcelona, Spain (2004), and the Venice Biennial, Italy (2004), among others.

Born in Urbana, Illinois in 1942, Dan Graham now lives and works in New York, where he is represented by Marian Goodman Gallery, as he is in Paris.

Born in 1947, Rodney Graham attended the University of British Columbia (1968-71) and lives and works in his hometown of Vancouver. While Rodney Graham is commonly described as a conceptual artist, the scope of his artistic and intellectual pursuits defies categorization. As an artist, writer, musician, and actor, he has made works that range across media and subject matter, inventing new approaches to landscape, literature, popular culture, music, and sound. His recent solo shows include 303 Gallery, New York (2004), “Rodney Graham: A Little Thought,” Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (2004), Donald Young Gallery, Chicago (2003), Hauser & Wirth, Zurich, Switzerland (2003), and Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, England (2002). His work has been featured in important recent group shows, including “Fast Forward,” Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe, Munich, Germany (2003), “C’est Arrive Demien,” Biennale d’Art Contemporain, Lyon, France (2003), and “Crosscurrents at Century’s End: Selections from the Nueberger Berman Art Collection,” Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (2002). Rodney Graham is represented by 303 Gallery in New York.

Phillip Huber, master puppeteer for Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty, is an internationally recognized “artist with marionettes,” who is most widely known for his screen work as the marionette-animator played by John Cusack in the thrice nominated Academy Award film, Being John Malkovich. Huber’s stage credits include Busker Alley, starring Tommy Tune, It’s Magic, starring Harry Anderson, That’s Christmas, starring Sandy Duncan, Christmas with Friends and Nabors, starring Jim Nabors, and The Road to Hollywood, with Tony Award-winning director Walter Bobby. Television appearances include The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Le Plus Grande Cabaret du Monde for French TV, Showbiz Today for CNN and numerous commercials, the most recent being Move Free for Weider Nutrition. Huber’s nightclub per- formances include the Lido in Paris, Casino de Monte Carlo in Monaco (including a Royal Command Performance for Prince Rainier), The Magic Castle in Hollywood, Rainbow & Stars in New York, as well as performances on first-class cruise ships around the world.

BRUCE ODLAND, sound designer
Bruce Odland is a Sound Artist and Composer internationally known for his installations transforming city noise into harmonic music thus altering the emotional landscape of public space. His sound scores for Peter Sellars, JoAnne Akalaitis, and Andre Gregory have been heard in theatres throughout US and Europe. He also works extensively in film, radio, and museum exhibition. His “Sounds from the Vaults” for Field Museum won the Golden Muse award for interactivity. Currently he is working on an opera with Wooster Group.

Tony Oursler was born in New York City in 1957. He graduated from the California Institute for the Arts with a BFA in 1979 and returned to New York, where he has continued to live and work. Oursler has specialized in installation, painting, sculpture, and video since the late1970s. His recent mixed media installations—in which theatrical objects such as puppets and dolls are layered with video projections and spoken text—are prefigured in the wildly inventive body of videotapes that he has produced over the past twenty years. Like Graham, Oursler’s work has also considered the role of music in society; he has done projects with Sonic Youth as well as other music icons. His recent solo exhibitions include, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2005), Jeu de Paume, Paris (2005), Musee D’Orsay, Paris (2004), Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco (2003), Lisson Gallery, London, England (2003), Parallel Lines Studio d’Arte Raffaelli, Trento, Italy (2002), Magasin 3, Stolkholm Kunsthall, Sweden (2002), Tony Oursler Drawings, Lehmann Maupin, New York (2001), Metro Pictures, New York (2001), and Institute Valencia D’Art Modern, Valencia, Spain (2001).Tony Oursler is represented by Metro Pictures and Lehmann Maupin in New York.

CARLOS SOTO, costume designer
Carlos Soto works in a variety of fields, encompassing performance, theory, fashion, and dramaturgy. He has worked closely with directors Robert Wilson, Richard Foreman, and Kameron Steele, among others.

JOSHUA THORSON, video editor
Joshua Thorson is a filmmaker and artist who lives in New York. His work has been shown at MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Rotterdam International Film Festival, among others. He is currently developing a script for his next video, a feature, and completing several new paintings on plexiglass.

EUGENE TSAI, props designer
Eugene Tsai lives and works in New York as an art director and designer. He has collaborated with artists including Gaetano Pesce, Robert Wilson, and Urs Fisher. His furniture and fashion designs have been exhibited in the US, Europe and Japan. He is currently preparing for the ongoing project – “Video Portraits” with Robert Wilson and continuously thinking about ’little things’ for Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty.

is a band established by Matt Reilly and Ian Vanek, then students at Pratt Institute. Japanther was featured in the 2006 Whitney Biennial and the 2011 Venice Biennale, and has collaborated with a diverse pool of artists such as gelitin, Penny Rimbaud, Gee Vaucher, Dan Graham, Eileen Myles, Kevin Bouton-Scott, robbinschilds, Dawn Riddle, Claudia Meza, Todd James, Devin Flynn, Ninjasonik, Anita Sparrow and Spank Rock.

Japanther has made its name with unique performance situations, appearing alongside synchronized swimmers, atop the Williamsburg Bridge, with giant puppets, marionettes and shadow puppets, in the back of a moving truck in Soho, and at shows with giant dinosaurs and BMXers flying off the walls. Installations include The Phone Booth Project at Clocktower Gallery in New York. ‘Described as “art-rock installation paratroopers” and “a studied form of New Wave anarchism” by Flash Art, a “Performance Galaxy” by Vanity Fair, “Super hard, incredibly fast and overall inspiring” by Thrasher, “more accessible than other bands of its genre” by the New Yorker, and “the best band ever, straight up” by Tokion.

Japanther has always been a band apart, running the gamut from performance art to punk rock and back again. Pushing parties to the limit (“Lincoln Center punk-rock concert turned mini-riot” –New York Post), Japanther returns in 2011 with Beets, Limes and Rice, a celebration of ten years in the underground and an ultra-contemporary meditation on “catharsis and being in love in a time of darkness”.

The band’s album Beets, Limes and Rice, written in the midst of 84-hour performance piece “It Never Seems to End,” was released in digital and vinyl format from Recess Records, on CD from Japanther’s own Tapes Records, on cassette from Lauren Records, and by Seayou Records in Europe. The artwork for the album was created by Monica Canilao.

Their song “The Gravy” was featured in Electronic Arts’ 2010 video game Skate 3.

New York Times
A 60’s Psychedelic Tale of Youth Conquering All (the Revolutionaries Are Puppets)
By Steven Henry Madoff
December 01, 2004

Puppet preview
December 02, 2004

Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30 entertainment by Dan Graham and Tony Oursler with Rodney Graham

Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty by Dan Graham

Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty. Live performance and original music: Japanther ; Video projections: Tony Oursler, 2004, 32’  



Entertainment by Dan Graham and Tony Oursler Featuring Japanther and the Huber Marionettes: Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty

Wiener Fest Wochen VIENNA (Austria)

Staatsoper Unter Den Linden BERLIN (Germany)



Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary
Don’t Trust Anyone over Thirty. Entertainment by Dan Graham and Tony Oursler featuring Japanther and The Huber Marionettes–DTAOT–1565

Huber Marionettes
“Don´t Trust Anyone Over Thirty” A contemporary art project produced by TRANS> 
All puppet sequences were staged and directed by Phillip Huber & David Alexander

Tony Oursler Gallery
Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30: In Collaboration with Dan Graham 
New York Times Review, Miami, Florida
Dec. 2 – Dec. 5, 2005

Carlos Soto
Don´t trust anyone over 30



Dan Graham . Tony Oursler . Japanther & The Huber Marionettes – GEANNULEERD
Don’t trust anyone over thirty – Belgische première


Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty Viena

Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty Walker


Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty: Entertainment by Dan Graham, Tony Oursler and Rodney Graham 

Art Basel Miami Beach, December 1-5, 2004


Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty: The Storyboard, 2004


Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty: Entertainment by Dan Graham, Tony Oursler and Rodney Graham
Art Basel Miami Beach, December 1-5, 2004


Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty TOUR

Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty TOUR
Wiener Festwochen, Vienna, June 3-7, 2005



The Making Off & Process


Tony Oursler video