Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Car Bomb at the Guggenheim

I love NewYork City. I love to walk the streets, watch the people, listen to the little snippets of conversation. But sometimes it feels like an alternate universe.
We visited the Guggenheim on Friday. Primary exhibit is Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang's I Want to Believe.
It's not surprising that the Guggenheim describes the exhibit in the sort of dense prose that seems to have lost any meaning.
Cai Guo-Qiang is internationally acclaimed as an artist whose creative
transgressions and cultural provocations have literally exploded the accepted
parameters of art making in our time.


Nor is it a shock that the Guggenheim has turned over most of the Museum to an ardent admirer of Mao Tse Tung and the Chinese Cultural Revolution. These folks probably have Che T shirts too.

I've got to admmit, the exhibit is fascinating. Cai Guo-Qiang uses gunpowder as an art form. He specializes in "explosion events": he has strung explosives around the Tate Gallery in London, (and on the East Rver in NYC, among other spots), set them off, and recorded it all on film. This is more than just a fireworks show- no damage done but you know what it represents. (While watching one of the videos on Friday, a man behind me commented, "it's shock and awe in Baghdad.")

The centerpiece of the exhibit is Inopportune: Stage One, which
presents nine real cars in a cinematic progression that simulates a car bombing,
occupying the central atrium of the Frank Lloyd Wright rotunda.


It's riveting. What baffles me is that the Museum introduces the exhibit by stating that they have allowed Cao to invade the building. They are proud that they have allowed him to explode a simulated car bomb in one of the leading art museums in a city where Islamic terrorists killed nearly 3000 people six and a half years ago.

I wonder what Cao thinks of Tibet?

1 comment:

Melissa said...

They say ignorance is bliss.
Many geniuses were considered insane in their time.

I find it appalling that you concentrate on racism and prejudice instead of the true value of the art this man has created.