Curiosities is a column in which I preserve for posterity the âyou can’t invent thatâ parts of artistic news.
Below, some questions asked by the events of the last week …
1) Will we still pee in Maurizio Cattelan’s golden toilet?
Last week marked the second anniversary of the brazen heist that rocked the international art world like no other: the theft of Maurizio Cattelan’s multi-million dollar gold art toilet at Blenheim Palace. Despite a reward of $ 130,000 and the (seemingly unnecessary?) Arrest of no less than seven suspects in the meantime, the BBC reported that authorities working on the toilet case have lost touch.
The case of the bowl of gold is likely to fall with the Gardner Heist as one of the great unsolved artistic crimes of our time.
The work (one of three golden toilets made by Cattelan) was insolently titled America, and was installed as a functional potty in Winston Churchill’s former bathroom at Blenheim Palace as part of the unveiling of a Cattelan retrospective, itself prophetically titled “Success is Not an Option” .
Two years after the daring early morning heist, we have to face the harsh, cold reality: The toilets may have been scrapped for their 18-karat coins. His powerful critical message – “I am a golden toilet in Winston Churchill’s house and you can pee in me” – may be lost forever.
It’s very hard to get really crazy about this. Locals mostly had fun decorating the toilets of a variety of village restaurants with gold paint. Cattelan himself said he hoped the robbery was “some sort of Robin Hood-inspired action” – then, not two months later, made a puzzling publicity for an artistic insurance company in which he strutted and assaulted, dressed only in pictures of America (among other works). The ad had the tagline âGreat Artists Steal,â which I guess reads sort of like Cattelan’s endorsement of Blenheim Thieves.
So the main tragedy here was basically the water damage to Blenheim Palace and a very red face for Edward Spencer-Churchill, the founder of the Blenheim Art Foundation and brother of the 12th Duke of Marlborough. As the show approached, he had told the Sunday timeâwith airy and perfect pride – that the owner of America did not have to worry about the palace exhibition: “First, it’s leaden, and second, a potential thief will have no idea who last used the toilet or what he ate. So no, I don’t intend to keep it.
Leave it to a lord to think that no one would bother to steal $ 4 million in gold if they had to work and maybe get their hands dirty to do so.
And yet, hope remains. During her installation at the Guggenheim in 2018, curator Nancy Spector noted that America was “laden with possible meanings,” adding that “the equation between excrement and art has long been undermined by neo-Marxist thinkers who question the relationship between work and value.” Remember, this is a work of art whose intellectual power is so powerful that it almost brought down the Trump regime when the Guggenheim boldly offered to loan it to the White House.
And so it is possible that the burglars who took America got to the point of melting the toilet of gold into ingots, when the light of the furnace ignited in the luminous surface and the epiphany struck: âWait, boys! Is this an unprecedented three-way synthesis of the work of Marcel Duchamp Fountain with Piero Manzoni’s Artist shit and that of Damien Hirst For God’s sake? We must save him! In art, anything is possible.
2) Immersive Is Van Gogh the arena rock of our time?
Kriston Capps’ panning report on the immersive Van Gogh Hall phenomenon in CityLab this week brings us this nugget from Corey Ross, head of Lighthouse Immersive, the company behind one of the many Van Gogh light shows on tour: âWe Just spent 3.2 million tickets sold, which, as I understand it, makes it the world’s most successful attraction on Ticketmaster. “
I looked at this to see if maybe it was true. It may be true!
It’s an apples-to-sunflower comparison, of course, but Pink’s “Beautiful Trauma” tour of 2019 sold “over 3 million tickets” to 159 venues, and was this year’s biggest music event ( I literally didn’t know Pink was still making music, but there you go). The Immersive Van Gogh Army is therefore well and truly fighting in this league. Even Taylor Swift’s ‘Reputation’ tour of 2018 only sold 2.5 million tickets, so it’s obvious the allure of a post-impressionist light show wins out. Look what you made me doTaylor era by the hundreds of thousands.
However, there are still worlds to be conquered for Immersive Van Gogh.
It can be difficult for Lighthouse Immersive to break Ed Sheeran’s ‘Divide’ tour record, which has sold 8.9 million tickets at 258 locations, unless they are considering a team. To imagine: Form of you and Starry Night, together? The night cafe feat. Galway Girl? No place on Earth could contain it.
3) Won’t someone want #AskaCurator?
September 15 marked the 2021 edition of the #AskaCurator Long Day on Twitter. And as usual, Twitterverse’s reaction to #AskaCurator Day was resounding: âCan you believe what just happened on #BachelorinParadise? “
#AskaCurator Day should be that brief and precious moment where overworked and underpaid people can finally show their obscure and specific knowledge to the public. More importantly, it’s a bit like watching people perform a slightly embarrassing chore.
Curators from many and varied institutions have spent hours in the past week seriously pondering big questions like, “How do you deal with spiders and cobwebs?” (“There is a detailed cleaning program”) and “What are the Conservatives wearing?” (“It depends on what I’m teaching that day.”)
Don’t get me wrong, there is gold in there. Love this from the National Cowgirl Museum:
But not all institutions can have Jon Snow’s saddle!
The heart of #AskaCurator is well placed, and these kinds of social media engagement initiatives are not in vain. Last year, #CuratorBattle to release âScariest Museum Objectsâ was a galloping (albeit nightmarish) good time. But as I go through the pages of #AskaCurator Tweets, I’m starting to realize that reaching out to the general public to #AskaCurator is a bit like asking me to prepare questions for, I don’t know, someone who wraps gifts for. earn a living.
I would probably ask, “So how did you get started with gift wrapping for a living?” “
Then I would ask, “What are some unusual gifts that you have wrapped?” “
Then nothing more comes to mind.
And it’s #AskaCurator day.
I feel like National Trust curator Matthew Constantine sort of sums it up:
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