Public art installations come and go. The transience of such works—projects like Thomas Hirschhorn’s Gramsci Monument in the Bronx or the flashy site-specific sculptures that pop up like perennials in Madison Square Park—fuels their energy and their urgency. The impermanence of these pieces is what makes us look at them harder, knowing that they’ll soon be gone. It’s rare, though, that the entire setting of a public artwork is also doomed to disappear.
In all the hubbub over Morley Safer’s segment on 60 Minutes in which he trashes the art world on a visit to Art Basel Miami Beach, a follow-up to his 1993 dig at the industry, one thing we haven’t heard much of, at least not from Mr. Safer, is the names of the artists he shows in his segment—like Ryan McGinley, who made the video of a scantily clad woman holding a make-shift blowtorch, or Mike Kelley, responsible for the installation of sewn stuffed animals and Jennifer Rubell, whose interactive life-size sculpture of Prince William makes an appearance. And while Mr. Safer presents these works as emblems of his confusion and dismay at what has become of the art world, we can’t help think what a thrill it is to see Paul McCarthy’s large pink sculpture of a libidinous dwarf, White Snow Dwarf (Bashful), on national broadcast television. Savoring the moment with a few more artists, here’s a breakdown of some more work we found in the segment, each one paired with one of Mr. Safer’s signature bon mots at the time of their appearance.
MONDAY, MARCH 26
Artist Talk: “Kara Walker on Andy Warhol,” at Dia Art Foundation
As part of its “Artists on Artists” series, the Dia Art Foundation invites Kara Walker to speak on the subject of Andy Warhol. Ms. Walker is known for her frank and often disturbing silhouettes that explore power dynamics along lines of race, gender and sexuality. Ms. Walker’s major survey exhibition, “Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love,” which Dia director Philippe Vergne helped curate, premiered at the the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, in February 2007, after which it was presented at the Whitney and many museums worldwide. —Rozalia Jovanovic
Dia Art Foundation, 535 West 22nd Street, 5th floor, New York, 6:30 p.m., $6
Armory Week 2012
Last week, artist Clifford Owens told The Observer in an interview that he planned to force a sex act on an audience member for his final performance at MoMA PS1. The performance, based on a score written by artist Kara Walker, called for French kissing an audience member and demanding sex. He had performed it several times during his 10-month residency at the museum, and planned to take the performance further and to break out of a comfort zone he had settled into. In response to the news of Mr. Owens’s plans, which we shared in search of comment, Ms. Walker responded via email that she wasn’t aware of his plans for his final performance and stated, “If he goes through with it he leaves no room for imagination or freedom of choice.” The next day, when she withdrew her involvement from Mr. Owens’s performance, demanding, via email, that he “cease and desist” from using her score, The Observer found itself an unwitting participant in the evolution of that last performance.
This week, Gallerist had all kinds of fun. Beginning at the piers for the Armory, we continued on to the Independent in Chelsea and then the Dependent Art Fair at the Comfort Inn on Ludlow Street, where hordes of people crammed into tiny hotel rooms to catch sight of all the ways emerging galleries made Read More
The artist Kara Walker had a surprise cameo today in Clifford Owens’s last performance in his exhibition “Anthology” at MoMA PS1. It was a resolution, it seemed, of what began unfolding last week when Mr. Owens made known to Gallerist in an interview his intention to force a sex act on an audience member during his last performance in accordance with a set of instructions Ms. Walker had given to him to enact. Yet, while Ms. Walker had supplied the instructions, or a “score” as Mr. Owens calls them (as did 27 other artists) she had no idea, we learned from her in an email, that he planned to take her instructions so literally for this performance, instructions which read, in part, “Force them against a wall and demand Sex.” As a result, she called off her involvement with the performance. Thus, when the door opened today and Ms. Walker appeared and walked slowly toward Mr. Owens, the performance, we knew, had taken a turn no one could have expected.
The artist Kara Walker has withdrawn a piece scheduled to be performed by the artist Clifford Owens as part of his “Anthology” series at MoMA PS1 this Sunday.
The exhibition includes a series of performances in which Mr. Owens interprets instructions, or what he calls a “score,” given to him by many other artists, including Ms. Walker, whose piece includes a demand for sex and mention of a “forced sex act.”