‘corey marc fogel’ explodes Facebook, then self-destructs. Save ‘corey marc fogel’!

Courtesy Corey Fogel

Courtesy Corey Fogel

Recently I included Chloë Flores’ Facebook residency, in which a different artist occupies the curator’s Facebook identity every month, in my list of 10 “alternatives to the alternative art spaces” on the LA Weekly. These residencies, which are rigorously curated and theorized by Flores, are in essence highly specialized spaces for performance and social practice. Although subversive in nature—especially in the beginning when few were hip to what was going on and thus subject to being “punked” by the fake Flores—the residency does have a few strict rules that can’t be broken: the settings can’t be changed, i.e. the page must remain public at all times; the About page, which explains the project, can’t be altered; and the password can’t be given out, so as to avoid unwanted hacking. In principle, everything on the page could be deleted by any of the participating artists, but so far no one has decided to go the Erased de Kooning route.

This past week, artist/musician Corey Fogel completely exploded the social media occupation model by granting admin privileges on his fan page, corey marc fogel, to 1,000 of his unsuspecting Facebook friends. Rampant chaos, alarm, and merriment ensued. Some, believing that their friend’s account had been hacked, valiantly attempted to delete the page. Others, understanding that it was a prank/performance/random action, played along, repeatedly saving the page from deletion, messing with its various controls, and running wild with the corey marc fogel identity.

For a couple of days, users’ newsfeeds were overrun by embarrassing cmf status updates, cranky demands for removal, and references to the über-meta nature of what was going on—some people posted screen shots of themselves as cmf responding to other posts from cmf, and so on. One ingenious interloper even got blogger Geoff Tuck to allow all cmf postings to show up as part of his Twitter feed, further complicating the identity stew.

As one of the admins, I contributed my fair share to the anarchic amusement, posting status updates, checking cmf into Club Rock-Za (Honolulu’s tackiest strip bar), and restoring the page’s visibility after another admin made it visible only to people in Kazakhstan, North Korea, Iceland, and Canada. I felt like one of a multiplying army of cmfs, like Agent Smith in “The Matrix,” coming for the total destruction of the one, true Corey Marc Fogel. Only instead of the uniformity of purpose of Agent Smith, all of the cmfs were at odds with another, constantly deleting one another’s posts and undoing one another’s actions. Being inside cmf felt like being inside Thunderdome—who would emerge from its ashes when it was all over?

Outside of cmf, a strange sense of conceptual solidarity sometimes emerged. A few people posted “I am Corey Fogel” or “We are all Corey Fogel” on their own walls. Everyone seemed to be discussing it, or bitching about it. One anonymous prankster even created an alternate Corey Fogel universe in which his identity is in turn hijacked and taken over by a fake Joel Kyack.

After about two days of heightened activity, cmf came to an abrupt, mysterious, and perhaps inevitable end. After admins received the announcement that “R. Stevie Moore has scheduled the Page ‘corey marc fogel’ for deletion” (only the latest of a long string of such announcements), the page disappeared from view. Many assumed that Moore had succeeded in finally killing the page, but others pointed out that there is a 14-day safety period before a page is actually deleted, and that currently, cmf still appears in FB searches. The page was still there, it had just been rendered invisible, and most people had been forcibly removed as admins. Some remaining admin was holding it hostage.

As it turns out, things were way more meta than that: someone had actually managed to terminate himself as admin and the cmf page at the same time. After Fogel posted a Missing ad in an attempt to retrieve the page, Dominic Cramp came forward with the following confession: “…in the spirit of celebrating the anarchic ridiculousness of Facebook and as an Admin with the 500 other Admins, I confess! I did it, I exercised my right to do whatever I want, which was to make the page only visible in Kazakhstan and some other random place which I can’t remember because the whole thing took 10 seconds and much has happened since. I thought it was funny and although didn’t quite think through that would be the end of the piece until someone figured it out, there you go. I also deleted myself but it didn’t delete me at the time, although now I do seem to be deleted. All very confusing…”

Fogel asked him if he was the one who deleted the other admins. Cramp responded: “Nope. I think that was probably just people deleting themselves. Literally all I did was that. I was really trying to participate rather than mitigate. That would be no fun. Shit, sorry to gum up the works but that’s anarchy for ya haha. I think you really exploded this thing in an interesting way. I am all for more of it!”

Although Fogel, like many of us, is sad at the early demise of a great spontaneous action, he takes it all in stride: “That was the spirit… I’m surprised it didn’t happen much sooner.” Still, he points out that someone could still be an admin on the page, and could potentially restore it. The page was scheduled for deletion on Monday, which means it will take effect on Monday, December 31. Will the last remaining admins please step forward?

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