About a week ago, one of Andy Warhol’s TIME CAPSULES was opened at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA. In celebration of this rare occasion Warhol’s last assistant Benjamin Liu opened up about his time with Warhol and the TIME CAPSULE project.
Liu remembers his experience with Warhol saying that he would go through Warhol’s trash at the Venezuelan artist Victor Hugo’s home to see if there was anything worthwhile left behind to salvage. It wasn’t until he started working for Warhol did Liu realize how much of pack rat he truly was. When Liu started working as Warhol’s assistant at the Factory, one of his main tasks was to pack and seal all of the 610 time capsules Warhol made. He and a few others have had the privilege of seeing the treasures hidden within the myriad of boxes. The Warhol Museum live tweeted the opening of TIME CAPSULE 528 from 1984 using the hashtag #WarholTC. The objects inside ranged from a fork, unopened letters, a fruitcake box to party invitations from Wayne Gretzky, Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall, all things Warhol had in his possession.
Warhol’s Time Capsules were intended to be sold as art but never found their way on to the market. It’s easy to laugh at the idea of packed trash as art but Warhol’s Time Capsules are important for other reasons. They offer us an insight into his artistic point of view.
Burying a time capsule into your backyard as a child is an old American tradition. To Warhol, time capsules meant something completely different. Warhol saw this as another opportunity to make ‘something out of nothing’. As Liu points out, Warhol saw value in things touched by celebrities, which may be the reason for trying to put the time capsules on the market. For now, opening these time capsules almost resembles performance art and maybe someday they will find themselves on the art market.