Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Of public art, past and future

Today MassMoCa announced it was throwing in the towel regarding Christoph Büchel's aborted exhibit there. The museum had recently won an important ruling allowing it to show Büchel's piece unfinished, but nevertheless decided to simply abandon the project - most would agree that, with the legal principle decided, the choice to move on is a wise one (even though dismantling the detritus will cost some $40,000, bringing the total cost of the debacle to $400,000). Büchel, for his part, re-inforced his reputation as an asshole by offering to create a new piece for Mass MoCA free of charge - one that re-configured its logo as "Mass CoMA." Har de har har. Those Swiss - what a sense of humor! Good-bye, Büchel, and good riddance.

But in the meantime I thought I would post a striking image drawn from an unusually thoughtful slideshow over at slate on the troubling state of public sculpture. The work above, "Alison Lapper Pregnant," by Marc Quinn, has been temporarily installed on the famously empty "fourth plinth" in Trafalgar Square. Lapper, who was born without arms and with shortened legs, and who gave birth to a son shortly after modeling for the sculpture, says the figure represents ""a modern tribute to femininity, disability, and motherhood." It could be considered bizarre as a stand-alone piece, but its setting transforms it into a rebuke of the kind of triumphant militarism Trafalgar Square typifies. Here's a thought - why doesn't Mass MoCA invite Lapper and Quinn over for a show? Or better yet, how about installing "Alison Lapper Pregnant" on some empty plinth in Boston?

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