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Archive for February 25th, 2014

Sala Murat gallery in Bari Italy

(Pictured above are actual pieces that is part of the art display that was not thrown out)

I first heard of this news on Yahoo, which featured a short article titled “Cleaning woman in Italy throws out artworks:”

 A cleaning woman in southern Italy has unwittingly thrown away contemporary artworks that were supposed to be part of an exhibition.

Lorenzo Roca, head of the cleaning company, said the woman “was just doing her job” when she thought two artworks were part of trash left behind by those setting up for the show that opened Wednesday in Bari.

Show organizers said one of the works she gave to a city sanitation crew before dawn included pieces of cookies, which were scattered on the floor, as part of an artistic arrangement.

Roca said the cleaning company would use its insurance coverage to pay for the trashed art works, whose value was estimated at 10,000 euros ($13,700).

$13,700 for some cookies in the trash?  Is it really worth that much money in damages?  What was the art exhibit about anyways?

So I got curious and tried to do a little research.  I learned that the “pieces” thrown out was part of a larger complex display set up at the expansive hall of Sala Murat gallery in Bari, Italy.  The incident took place last week on February 19th, 2014, apparently the night before it was open to the public.

The exhibition is called “MEDIATING LANDSCAPE.”  According to the artists behind the exhibition, it was put together by “…artists, writers, and curators whose works are formally incorporated within the display landscape as a unified installation, blurring the boundaries of their practice.”  The group’s name is called Flip led by an Italian name Federico Del Vecchio and an American born lady name Ala Roushan.  On Flip’s frontpage there is more information about the intent of “Mediating Landscape:”

 The display object provides dynamic surfaces accommodating new modes of presentation, relations between exhibited artwork and spatial conditions. Participants include, artists, writers, and curators whose works are formally incorporated within the display landscape as a unified installation, blurring the boundaries of their practice. We are interested in the unpredictability of the narratives that arise from this type of organization specifically in the way individual artworks are mediated through the formal display.

Note the intent on “blurring the boundaries of their practice” and “We are interested in the unpredictability of the narratives that arise from this type of organization specifically in the way individual artworks are mediated through the formal display.”

Then two paragraphs later they go on to say the following:

There is definite anticipation for tension and dialogue throughout the process of production, display and setup of the works. These are the moments that we hope to elaborate through discourse and writing around the notion of display; touching upon issues of proximity, adjacency, space, form and objecthood as it evolves from reflections and development of this project.

It’s funny to see artists talk about tensions, dialogues and discourse and the theme of pushing the envelopment when it comes to space, conventions and interpretation.

It’s all cute and cool–until stubborn reality smacks hard against their post-modern sensibilities.

Here are my thoughts on the whole affair:

1.) It might be impolite to say at a Museum but since contemporary Post-Modern art is so bad, can you really blame the janitor’s mistake of art pieces for trash?

2.) For those who think art is totally subjective (note that I’m not denying that there’s no subjective elements in analyzing art) the saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” has another corollary, “so is trashy art in the eye of the cleaner,” though it’s taken quite literally in this context.

3.) Related to the first two point, if “art” is crafted as an “anti-art” and presented in such a way that the reality of it as an artistic presentation is being blurred can you really blame anyone for not recognizing it as art?

4.) If the project as a whole sees virtue in making viewers question the narrative of formally displaying art and your art pieces get thrown out accidentally by a well-intention cleaning lady before the pieces were “installed” (FLIP’s own words), doesn’t that pull the rug underneath their very own project and aim? 

5.) Given the artists’ own words that “We are interested in the unpredictability of the narratives that arise from this type of organization specifically in the way individual artworks are mediated through the formal display,” they got what they asked for.

6.) On the one hand we already saw the quote from FLIP that “There is definite anticipation for tension and dialogue throughout the process of production, display and setup of the works.”  Yet on the other hand, “What has become shocking to us, in light of this event, is the scale of media attention it has attracted and added exaggerations around this incident.”  There is the tension that they claim they anticipate tension concerning the process of art with it’s feedback while later being “shocked” at what happened to their art display and the feedback.

7.) The cleaning lady unwittingly has become like the boy who cries out that the Emperor has no clothes: she exposes the insanity behind contemporary art’s love affair of post-modernity and anti-art “art.”  At root is an issue of worldviews and view of reality, and philosophy of art itself.  It is a worldview crisis.

For more on a Christian view of art, see my .

I also highly recommend the work Modern Art and the Death of a Culture Paperback by H. R. Rookmaaker which I read years ago and might read it again in the near future.

A case study: 

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