Monday, June 11, 2007

Table stakes

As a rule large public art galleries have trouble with artists, and their often challenging requests. Building walls is fine, some mud on the floor can be ok if it’s not trekked through the rest of the galleries, a bit of building here and a video projection room there… well, ok. But last week we saw a gallery taking an artist seriously, to an amazing degree. The artist (who seems to be a favourite of over the net) was Maurizio Cattelan and the museum the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt. In an upstairs gallery Cattelan had placed a long table head-first against an exterior wall of the building. The thing was that over half the table continued through the wall and out into the open air above the street that ran alongside the museum. Our guess is most art institutions would either say no or, at the very least, argue for a solution that presented each half of the table attached to its own side of the wall to create the illusion of table pushing out into space. Not the MMK. Here the stone wall of the Hans Hollein building was sliced through and the table assembled through the gaps. As you approach the table from the gallery side, you can feel a cold draft whistling into the gallery. Air conditioning clearly takes second place to what the institution considered to be the integrity of an important work. The idea of doing anything to a Hans Hollein building is awe inspiring, but cutting a hole in it shows fantastic commitment to what matters most. The work.
Images: Cattelan Untitled 2007 inside and outside the building