Summer 2004

The Rachel Gugelberger Experience: A Collaboration of Sorts

28 cents well spent

Cabinet and Rachel Gugelberger

Some time in the fall of 2003, a member of the Cabinet editorial team burdened with an unwieldy last name (less than half of it ever appears in print) was introduced to a kindred spirit, one Rachel Gugelberger, a respected New York curator. The conversation immediately turned to how her spectacular last name might become the subject matter for an insightful exploration of the relationship between identity, taxonomy, and the signifier. When it became clear that such a project was well beyond our intellectual means, we retreated to something more modest—a prank.

Perhaps not coincidentally, it turned out that Ms. Gugelberger is also blessed with a sense of humor and was willing to subject herself and her bank tellers to a focused experiment: At the end of September, Cabinet mailed Rachel Gugelberger one-cent checks made out to thirty variations on her name. These ranged from slight deviations to wholesale hallucinations, from the understandable to the insensitive.

All these checks were cashed successfully at Fleet Bank except for two: one because of a Gugelbergian error (she lost check # 1979), and the other because of a mistake on Cabinet’s part. Although the bank perceptively noticed that we had failed to properly fill out the amount on check # 1975 and therefore rejected it, the parade of outrageous names raised no alarms.

1948: Rachel Googleberger

1951: Rachel Googolberger

1952: Rachel Gögol-Burner

1953: Rachel Guggenurger

1954: Rachel Gutenberger

1955: Rachel Gugleburger

1956: Rachel G. Ügelberger

1957: Rachel Goodleberder

1958: Ray Chulgoogleberger

1959: R. Goober

1960: “Raitch” the Wraith

1961: Rachel Lycos-Frankfurter

1962: Rachel Hotbot-Whopper

1963: Rachel Patty Yahoo

1964: Mrs. Web Utility Meat Sandwich

1965: Raggie Googieboo

1966: Rigel Googenber

1967: Rachel “The Pistol” Glockman

1968: Ra’l Go’r

1969: Emperor Ra’l Go’r

1970: May’Shel Kukenperker


1972: Raiszl Gentenbengentle

1973: Rickel Gastenbienhür

1974: Richelieu LéGuggenbert

1975: Gary Rachelbergen

1976: Barry Rachelgerber

1977: Gary R. Gerbil

1978: Mr. Rachel

1979: Mr. Rachel 2

Rachel Raphaela Gugelberger is an independent curator and associate director of the Visual Arts Gallery at the School of Visual Arts, New York. Recent curatorial projects include “Rubbish” at Cuchifritos Art Space, New York, and “Freehand” at Marvelli Lab in Williamsburg, a collaborative drawing exhibition that included 22 artists. Gugelberger is currently co-curating an exhibition of alumni of the School of Visual Arts with Jerry Saltz for the fall of 2004.

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