Geffen Moca Urs Fischer exhibit
Photo courtesy of Dan Katzir and Ravit Markus

Open source art: Letting go of your ego

by Dan Katzir and Ravit Markus

Last week we saw one of the greatest art exhibits we have ever seen in our lives: Urs Fischer – YES, 2013. We don’t make it to downtown L.A. as often as we would like to and rarely go to the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. We actually stumbled into this exhibition by mistake without knowing anything about the artist or what we would see.

What makes this exhibit utterly breathtaking is that it is comprised of thousands of clay sculptures of almost everything that makes our world – from religious icons to pop culture icons, monsters, ghosts, animals, cars, old and new relics, immature and mature work, funny and serious work, playful and sad work – everything is there. We have never seen an exhibit with so much in it.

We were wondering how one man could create so much art even in an entire lifetime. How one man could speak in so many voices, have so many different styles – it was as if every style in the universe was present there but in a unique version of that style, not a mere copy work.

Then we read that the artist who created this work was Urs Fischer and that he actually brought in 1,500 volunteers to create this exhibit with him over one weekend.

All ages were there, young and old, dozens of kids. Most were not professional sculptors.

The artist gave them tons of clay and let their imagination run and regardless if some of the work was brilliant – and some was just okay – together it became a powerful and deeply moving statement.

What this exhibition shows is what we are experiencing all around us – the power of open source and the power of community in achieving greatness.

Open source has redefined our world. From open sourcing our collective experiences in social websites like Facebook, through collective sharing of our knowledge on Wikipedia, to collective sharing of criticism in websites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, Epinions, etc.

Yet in art? Art is usually the place where an individual expresses his/her unique voice. All arts have a lot to do with a person trying to quiet his/her soul – and part of that journey is motivated by very strong egos.

But open source is the opposite. It is letting go of one’s ego.

Some of the myths of the 20th century were about individuals with a unique voice and how they changed our world. It might be the basis of the myths in all history.

Maybe the story of the 21st century isn’t about individuals, but instead about teamwork that will lead to groundbreaking changes.

Dan Katzir and Ravit Markus

About Dan Katzir and Ravit Markus

An award-winning Israeli filmmaker, Dan Katzir's first film, Out for Love . . . Be Back Shortly, was narrated by Sacha Baron Cohen, and aired on multiple stations world-wide including the HBO network. He and his business and life partner Ravit Markus made together the critically acclaimed documentary Yiddish Theater: A Love Story. They are currently in post-production of a new film Legalize It, in collaboration with Willie Nelson's production company, Luck Films, and producer Lati Grobman. They will alternate writing this blog, updating from the road on their journey to release of this new documentary. To read more about their previous works go to:, to read more about their current venture and watch some clips from the film go to: or Follow them on Twitter: @Dankatzir and @legalizeitmovie.

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