Archive: exhibition
World’s worst criminal regretting his sins

World’s worst criminal regretting his sins

Maurizio Cattelan - Him
Maurizio CattelanHim, 2001, wax, human hair, suit, polyester resin and pigment, 101×43.1×63.5cm, Edition of 3 + AP

How much penance do the atrocities that Adolf Hitler committed in his lifetime require to be forgiven? This is perhaps the question which Maurizio Cattelan wanted to arouse in his audience when he drew a picture of the Nazi leader in a kneeling position. There is nothing wrong with someone kneeling down in prayer and in fact, it is an aspect of humanity that keeps us humble. With this in mind, it is hard to imagine that the person seeking forgiveness exercised untold torture on fellow human beings. If approached from behind, one cannot help but marvel at the self-discipline and commitment that this young boy eludes. It is not until one gets close enough that they realize that the neatly pressed school boy attire, fresh raven hair and well-polished shoes, actually belong to a leader whose name still raises goose bumps in the present day.

We might never fully understand the inspiration behind Him, which even in comparison to other works by Cattelan that were created at the same time, stands out as the most shocking piece on display. In his defense, Maurizio Cattelan has distances himself from provocative art but instead choses to refer to himself as a realistic artist. By borrowing pieces of reality from different eras throughout history, he has been able to create classics like the Him.

To choose to use Hitler as the subject of an art piece is rather bold as he represents such profound evil that is even hard to come to terms with. Is the dictator actually seeking for forgiveness? Having lived like he was above the authority of God, it does seem awkward yet humbling that he would kneel down. People do not like to be judged because they feel that all their actions are justifiable and this artwork contradicts this very nature of humanity. For as many as questioned the sincerity of Hitler in this assumed praying position, the lingering questions is whether he deserves to be forgiven.

Him, has definitely aroused its fair share of controversy; Hitler is the epitome of human suffering and pain inflicted by one’s own kind so it can be quite disheartening to fathom him walking free of any blame. From the rear, this picture of a small boy kneeling down in prayer causes one to appreciate the upbringing of the boy so far. Hitler is no young man neither is he innocent and the face, when viewed from the front, gives this away. Everybody seems to have a different opinion of why the artist chose to do this piece, but the record $17.2 million at Christie’s in 2016 for his work is proof enough that the artist created a masterpiece.

Maurizio Cattelan - Him
Maurizio CattelanHim, 2001, wax, human hair, suit, polyester resin and pigment, 101×43.1×63.5cm, Edition of 3 + AP
Photo: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Maurizio Cattelan - Him
Maurizio CattelanHim, 2001, wax, human hair, suit, polyester resin and pigment, 101×43.1×63.5cm, Edition of 3 + AP, Monnaie de Paris, Paris, France, 2016
Photo: Silvia Neri

Maurizio Cattelan - Him
Maurizio CattelanHim, 2001, wax, human hair, suit, polyester resin and pigment, 101×43.1×63.5cm, Edition of 3 + AP, Monnaie de Paris, Paris, France, 2016

Maurizio Cattelan - Him
Maurizio CattelanHim, 2001, wax, human hair, suit, polyester resin and pigment, 101×43.1×63.5cm, Edition of 3 + AP, Monnaie de Paris, Paris, France, 2016

Maurizio Cattelan - Him
Maurizio CattelanHim, 2001, wax, human hair, suit, polyester resin and pigment, 101×43.1×63.5cm, Edition of 3 + AP


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The Obscenity, Profanity and Heartache in Neon

The Obscenity, Profanity and Heartache in Neon

Tracey Emin at Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, 2014

Tracey Emin at Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, 2014
Tracey EminTrust Yourself, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Miami, USA, 2014

Neon lights are commonly used to make attractive business signs and are mostly preferred for outdoor use especially at night. The colorful array of neon light options makes it a creative marketing tool since lights are used to illuminate an underlying text message or image. There is no limit to what medium an artist can use to express themselves and for Tracey Emin (b.1963), it has been over 26 years of using neon consistently as a creative medium. The process of creating an art piece for her often begins with coming up with a message, usually a thought or a feeling. This is then followed by bending light tubes to assume the curves and profile of what has been written. Many artists have used neon lights as a medium since the 1960s but while many preferred to use molded letters and neutral writing, Tracey Emin stands out because she has chosen to use her own handwriting. Art critics will admit that using one’s own handwriting is rather daring but also a way to stamp personality and individuality in all pieces created.

It is ironic how the artist uses simple every day phrases to provoke feelings and thoughts in the audience. By expressing her own emotions, thoughts, and aspirations, she connects to the soul of the observers. This is the role that art should play in people’s lives and finding the best medium to achieve it is the greatest hurdle for many. By incorporating poetry, mystery, color and light into an art piece, the artist immortalizes herself in the work she does.

Tracey Emin at Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, 2014
Tracey EminTrust Yourself, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Miami, USA, 2014

Tracey Emin at Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, 2014
Tracey EminTrust Yourself, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Miami, USA, 2014

Tracey Emin at Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, 2014
Tracey EminTrust Yourself, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Miami, USA, 2014

Tracey Emin at Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, 2014
Tracey EminTrust Yourself, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Miami, USA, 2014
Tracey Emin - Be Faithful to Your Dreams, 1998, blue neon on plexiglas, 40.5 x 223.5 x 7.5 cm
Tracey EminFaithful to Your Dreams, 1998, blue neon on plexiglas, 40.5 x 223.5 x 7.5 cm

Tracey Emin - For You, 2008, neon, 186 x 174 cmTracey EminFor You, 2008, neon, 186 x 174 cm

Tracey Emin - Her Soft Lips Touched Mine and Every Thing Became Hard, 2008, neon, 99.7 x 213.8 cm
Tracey EminHer Soft Lips Touched Mine and Every Thing Became Hard, 2008, neon, 99.7 x 213.8 cm

Tracey Emin - I Cried Because I Love You, 2015
Tracey EminI Cried Because I Love You, 2015

Tracey Emin - I Kiss You, 2004
Tracey EminI Kiss You, 2004

Tracey Emin - I Listen to The Ocean And All I Hear is You, 2011, Neon, 91 x 211 cm
Tracey EminI Listen to The Ocean And All I Hear is You, 2011, Neon, 91 x 211 cm

Tracey Emin - I Loved You More Than I Can Love, 2009, Neon, 76.2 × 191.7 cm
Tracey EminI Loved You More Than I Can Love, 2009, Neon, 76.2 × 191.7 cm

Tracey Emin - I promise to Love You, 2010, Neon, 145.8 x 143 cm
Tracey EminI promise to Love You, 2010, Neon, 145.8 x 143 cm

Tracey Emin - Is Legal Sex Anal?, 1998, pink neon, 34 x 148 cm
Tracey EminIs Legal Sex Anal?, 1998, pink neon, 34 x 148 cm

Tracey Emin - Meet me in Heaven I will wait For You, 2004, Blue neon, 32.5 x 164.1 cm
Tracey EminMeet me in Heaven I will wait For You, 2004, Blue neon, 32.5 x 164.1 cm

Tracey Emin - Meet Me In Heaven I Will Wait For You, 2016, 110 x 359 cm
Tracey EminMeet Me In Heaven I Will Wait For You, 2016, 110 x 359 cm

Tracey Emin - People Like You Need To Fuck People Like Me, 2007, Neon, 45 x 72.01 in
Tracey EminPeople Like You Need To Fuck People Like Me, 2007, Neon, 45 x 72.01 in

Tracey Emin - She Lay down Deep Beneath The Sea, 2012
Tracey EminShe Lay down Deep Beneath The Sea, 2012

Tracey Emin - The Kiss Was Beautiful, 2012, Neon 135 x 120 cm
Tracey EminThe Kiss Was Beautiful, 2012, Neon 135 x 120 cm

Tracey Emin - Trust Yourself, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Miami, USA
Tracey EminTrust Yourself, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Miami, USA, 2014

Tracey Emin - With You I Want To Live, 2008, neon, 76.2 x 99.1 x 5.7 cm
Tracey EminWith You I Want To Live, 2008, neon, 76.2 x 99.1 x 5.7 cm

Tracey Emin - You Loved Me Like A Distant Star, 2016
Tracey EminYou Loved Me Like A Distant Star, 2016

Tracey Emin - Your Lips Moved Across My Face, 2015
Tracey EminYour Lips Moved Across My Face, 2015

Tracey Emin - Your Name Try Cunt International, 2004
Tracey EminYour Name Try Cunt International, 2004

Tracey Emin - My Heart is With You Always, 2014, laser animation, The Peninsula, Hong Kong, China
Tracey EminMy Heart is With You Always, 2014, laser animation, The Peninsula, Hong Kong, China


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20 tons of incense ash to create 5m statue

20 tons of incense ash to create 5m statue

Zhang Huan - Sydney Buddha, 2015, aluminum, 5m height, Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia

Zhang Huan - Sydney Buddha, 2015, aluminum, 5m height, Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia 1
Zhang HuanSydney Buddha, left: Aluminium Buddha, 370x290x260cm, right: Ash Buddha, 350x480x290cm, Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia, 2015

Zhang Huan, born in 1965, started out his career as a painter and then moved to performance art and then resorted back to painting. He is also a sculptor and photographer, but his main focus is being a performance artist. Throughout his career, he has made extensive use of ash, and even built a few sculptures with it. Zhang says that he considers ash to be symbolic as it represents the hopes and the prayers of those who usually burn the incense. To him, the ash sculptures represent collective blessing, memory, and soul of the Chinese people. The ash is collected from various temples in Shanghai, a time-consuming process that involves many hands.

When making such sculptures, the ash is compacted into the mold for a number of days, and then the aluminum sculpture is removed and reassembled facing the ash sculpture. Eventually, the ash sculpture will start trampling down after sometime, while the aluminum sculpture remains intact.

In 2015, Zhang created the Sydney Buddha, one headless metal statue, and another one made from over 20 tons of incense ash, crumbling gradually. It was named Sydney Buddha for purposes of its presentation in Australia. Initially, it was known as Taiwan Buddha. The Sydney Buddha is a meditation on the briefness of life and the various cycles that facilitate the renewal and destruction of life. This piece is made using two parts: the main sculpture made of aluminum and the incense-ash casting as the interior. These pieces are placed facing each other, and as time elapses, one of them depreciates. The Berlin Buddha is another monumental ash sculpture of Buddha, made from 6 tons of ash from burned incense. This ash has been poured into an aluminum mold that stands at 4 meters tall.

Zhang believes that each ash Buddha represents the prayers, thoughts, and hopes of mankind, which eventually collapse. This is the cycle of life and the taking action when there should be no action taken, upsets nature, in a way.

Zhang Huan - Sydney Buddha, 2015, aluminum, 5m height, Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia
Zhang HuanSydney Buddha, Ash Buddha, 350x480x290cm, Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia, 2015

Zhang Huan - Sydney Buddha, 2015, aluminum, 5m height, Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia
Zhang HuanSydney Buddha, Aluminium Buddha, 370x290x260cm, Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia, 2015

Zhang Huan - Sydney Buddha, 2015, aluminum, 5m height, Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia
Zhang HuanSydney Buddha, left: Aluminium Buddha, 370x290x260cm, right: Ash Buddha, 350x480x290cm, Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia, 2015

Zhang Huan - Sydney Buddha, 2015, aluminum, 5m height, Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia 10
Zhang HuanSydney Buddha, Ash Buddha, 350x480x290cm, Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia, 2015

Zhang Huan - Sydney Buddha, 2015, aluminum, 5m height, Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia 10c
Zhang HuanSydney Buddha, Ash Buddha, 350x480x290cm, Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia, 2015

Zhang Huan - Sydney Buddha, 2015, aluminum, 5m height, Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia, Photo Michael Young
Zhang HuanSydney Buddha, Aluminium Buddha, 370x290x260cm, Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia, 2015

Zhang Huan - Sydney Buddha, 2015, aluminum, 5m height, Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia 7d
Zhang HuanSydney Buddha, Aluminium Buddha, 370x290x260cm, Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia, 2015

Zhang Huan - Sydney Buddha, 2015, aluminum, 5m height, Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia 7b
Zhang HuanSydney Buddha, Aluminium Buddha (detail), 370x290x260cm, Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia, 2015

Zhang Huan - Berlin Buddha - Art Stage Singapore, 2013
Zhang HuanBerlin Buddha, Art Stage Singapore, Singapore, 2013

Zhang Huan - Berlin Buddha - Museum of Old and New Art, 2014
Zhang HuanBerlin Buddha, Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 2014

Zhang Huan - Berlin Buddha - Museum of Old and New Art, 2014 3
Zhang HuanBerlin Buddha, Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 2014

Zhang Huan - Berlin Buddha - Museum of Old and New Art, 2014 2
Zhang HuanBerlin Buddha, Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 2014

Zhang Huan - Berlin Buddha (Preparatory Drawing) 4, 2007, ink on paper, 82.5 x 102cm
Zhang HuanBerlin Buddha (Preparatory Drawing) 4, 2007, ink on paper, 82.5 x 102cm

Zhang Huan - Berlin Buddha (Preparatory Drawing) 5, 2007, ink on paper, 82.5 x 102cm
Zhang HuanBerlin Buddha (Preparatory Drawing) 5, 2007, ink on paper, 82.5 x 102cm

Zhang Huan - Berlin Buddha (Preparatory Drawing) 7, 2007, ink on paper, 82.5 x 102cm
Zhang HuanBerlin Buddha (Preparatory Drawing) 7, 2007, ink on paper, 82.5 x 102cm

Zhang Huan - Berlin Buddha (Preparatory Drawing) 9, 2007, ink on paper, 82.5 x 102cm
Zhang HuanBerlin Buddha (Preparatory Drawing) 9, 2007, ink on paper, 82.5 x 102cm

Zhang Huan - Berlin Buddha (Preparatory Drawing), 2007, ink on paper, 82.5 x 102cm
Zhang HuanBerlin Buddha (Preparatory Drawing), 2007, ink on paper, 82.5 x 102cm

Zhang Huan - Berlin Buddha (Preparatory Drawing), 2007, ink and soya sauce on paper, 82.5 x 102cm
Zhang HuanBerlin Buddha (Preparatory Drawing), 2007, ink and soya sauce on paper, 82.5 x 102cm


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Colorful life-sized recreation of entire apartment

Colorful life-sized recreation of entire apartment

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, Apartment A, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011, USA, at MOCA Cleveland, 2015, Photo Jerry Birchfield 2
Do Ho SuhNew York City Apartment, Apartment A, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011, USA, MOCA Cleveland, 2015
Photo: Jerry Birchfield

South Korean artist Do Ho Suh created an installation based on his New York home. It serves to highlight the permeable margins that are said to disconnect private and public in addition to the normalized concepts global identity, space and place, diasporic movement, memory, and displacement. Do Ho Su’s biography is the inspiration of the architectural settings and abstracted figures.

New York City Apartment is a piece that is cognizant of the artists individual lived experiences, significantly lamp lighting his move from South Korea to the United States, in addition to the places he has called home such as his childhood home (a traditional hanok-style Korean house), the house in Rhode Island where he once lived as a student, and his current apartment in New York City.

His work invokes transparency, gradating space and intermediate areas in Korean architecture, and has been taken various physical forms such as the recapitulations of large-scale house sculptures, identifying the ostinatos of his past and present family homes, intersected in a way that makes the interiors visible. Do’s use of monochrome polyester transparent structures are luminous, architectural, and fleeting, allowing audiences to roam through the disorienting interior passageways.

The main installation seems to represent almost any and every single bedroom apartment in New York with its one living room, bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom. Each piece of the home-like installation hanging in apparent stability, however, with the lack of foundation alerts audiences to the precarious fragility of the polyester home. Even the items featured that your mind wants you to think are hard, a toilet made of solid porcelain, a heater, a light switch embedded into a wall is truly soft and material that is hardly there- leading many viewers to question if the solid objects that these translucent representations epitomize are any less precarious than the monochrome polyester. Is home, the thing we feel is most stable, truly something forever, or something that delicately hangs in the balance and can change?

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, Apartment A, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011, USA, at MOCA Cleveland, 2015, Photo Jerry Birchfield 1
Do Ho SuhNew York City Apartment, Apartment A, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011, USA, MOCA Cleveland, 2015
Photo: Jerry Birchfield

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, MOCA Cleveland, Photo Jerry Birchfield 1
Do Ho SuhNew York City Apartment, MOCA Cleveland, 2015
Photo: Jerry Birchfield

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, MOCA Cleveland, Photo Jerry Birchfield 2
Do Ho SuhNew York City Apartment, MOCA Cleveland, 2015
Photo: Jerry Birchfield

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, MOCA Cleveland, Photo Jerry Birchfield 3
Do Ho SuhNew York City Apartment, MOCA Cleveland, 2015
Photo: Jerry Birchfield

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, MOCA Cleveland, Photo Jerry Birchfield 4
Do Ho SuhNew York City Apartment, MOCA Cleveland, 2015
Photo: Jerry Birchfield

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, MOCA Cleveland, Photo Jerry Birchfield 6

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, MOCA Cleveland, Photo Jerry Birchfield 7
Do Ho SuhNew York City Apartment, MOCA Cleveland, 2015
Photo: Jerry Birchfield

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, MOCA Cleveland, Photo Jerry Birchfield 8
Do Ho SuhNew York City Apartment, MOCA Cleveland, 2015
Photo: Jerry Birchfield

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, MOCA Cleveland, Photo Jerry Birchfield 9
Do Ho SuhNew York City Apartment, MOCA Cleveland, 2015
Photo: Jerry Birchfield

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, MOCA Cleveland, Photo Jerry Birchfield 10
Do Ho SuhNew York City Apartment, MOCA Cleveland, 2015
Photo: Jerry Birchfield

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center 2
Do Ho SuhNew York City Apartment, Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center 1
Do Ho SuhNew York City Apartment, Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, The Contemporary Austin, Photo by Brian Fitzsimmons
Do Ho SuhNew York City Apartment, The Contemporary Austin
Photo: Brian Fitzsimmons

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, The Contemporary Austin 1
Do Ho SuhNew York City Apartment, The Contemporary Austin
Photo: Brian Fitzsimmons

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, Apartment A, Unit 2, Corridor and Staircase, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY, 10011, USA. 2011–2014 (detail), The Contemporary Austin, Photo Brian Fitzsimmons 4
Do Ho SuhNew York City Apartment, Apartment A, Unit 2, Corridor and Staircase, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY, 10011, USA. 2011–2014 (detail), The Contemporary Austin
Photo: Brian Fitzsimmons

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, Apartment A, Unit 2, Corridor and Staircase, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY, 10011, USA. 2011–2014, The Contemporary Austin, Photo Brian Fitzsimmons 2
Do Ho SuhNew York City Apartment, Apartment A, Unit 2, Corridor and Staircase, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY, 10011, USA. 2011–2014 (detail), The Contemporary Austin
Photo: Brian Fitzsimmons

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, Apartment A, Unit 2, Corridor and Staircase, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY, 10011, USA. 2011–2014 (detail), The Contemporary Austin, Photo Brian Fitzsimmons 3
Do Ho SuhNew York City Apartment, Apartment A, Unit 2, Corridor and Staircase, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY, 10011, USA. 2011–2014 (detail), The Contemporary Austin
Photo: Brian Fitzsimmons

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, Corridor : Ground Floor Plus Staircase, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, 2015
Do Ho SuhNew York City Apartment, Corridor : Ground Floor Plus Staircase (detail), Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, 2015

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, 2015
Do Ho SuhNew York City Apartment, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, 2015

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, Corridor : Ground Floor Plus Staircase, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, 2015 2
Do Ho SuhNew York City Apartment, Corridor : Ground Floor Plus Staircase, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, 2015

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, Staircase detail, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, 2015
Do Ho SuhNew York City Apartment, Staircase (detail), Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, 2015

Do Ho Suh - New York City Apartment, Corridor : Ground Floor Plus Staircase, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, 2015 3
Do Ho SuhNew York City Apartment, Corridor : Ground Floor Plus Staircase, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, 2015


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“Hunger King” is artist’s fast food reply to social inequality and homelessness

“Hunger King” is artist’s fast food reply to social inequality and homelessness

Jani Leinonen - Hunger King, 2014, Hungary, Budapest 1
Jani LeinonenHunger King, 2014, Hungary, Budapest

Located behind a resplendent Opera House in Budapest on the same road as Louis Vuitton, sits Hunger King, a place that seems to be just like any other burger joint, however, it is anything but. Hunger King is a regular fast food outlet that is pushed onto the masses; Hunger King is a critical sociopolitical art installation serving to highlight Hungary’s significant crises of social inequality and homelessness.

The sign at Hunger King directs customers who identify as “rich” onto a red carpet, which leads them to the entrance, while the succession of “poor”, many of which are homeless takes them around the side of the building.

The sign that features a crown and burger logo is given a representational twist as it is given a new name, as it references the 3.7 million Hungarians living below the breadline. During the three-week long installation individuals who are in financial need have the ability to wait in the succession around the building for six hours and in turn will receive 3,400 forints (around £9 or $13.60 US) in a burger box for their trouble. This would be the same amount of money they would have made by working a minimum wage job in Hungary. All while, those who self-identify as rich can skip the line, walk up the red carpet cardboard burgers for 600,000 forints (£1,560 or $2357.39 US).

This three-week installation served as a critical response to a law that allows Hungarian councils to ban homeless people from sleeping in public areas, basically dispossessing the dispossessed. Those who are homeless and have little or nothing can be fined or even sent to jail for being out on the streets. Jani Leinonen’s work protests the “criminalization of homelessness” and somehow making the lives of those who have little stability even more precarious.

Jani Leinonen - Hunger King, 2014, Hungary, Budapest 2
Jani LeinonenHunger King, 2014, Hungary, Budapest

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Free candy in a museum

Free candy in a museum

Felix Gonzalez-Torres - "Untitled" (Portrait of Ross in L.A.), 1991, The Art Institute of Chicago
Felix Gonzalez-TorresUntitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.), 1991, Candies individually wrapped in multicolor cellophane, endless supply. Dimensions vary with installation; ideal weight 175 lbs. At The Art Institute of Chicago
(Photo mark6mauno Flickr)

Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ piece “Untitled” (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) is one of his nineteen candy pieces and featured in many museums around the world. The work targets the topic of a serious nature, one that is still unfortunately often taboo in mainstream society. It takes the topic from the shadows, where individuals still cringe and avert their eyes, and lays it on the table for discussion and contemplation.

The approximate 175 pounds of candy that make up the work resemble the 175-pound body of Ross Laycock, the artists’ boyfriend who died of AIDS in 1991. As each person takes a piece of candy, they in turn act as the AIDS virus depleting Ross’ body, piece be piece taking it away until there is nothing left. Felix Gonzalez-Torres, who dedicated his artwork to the one he love and lost, died in 1996 of AIDS.

His work doesn’t only represent the disease and its depletion on the body, but it represents the love between the person who is suffering from the disease and the person who is there to support them and suffer with them. The sweet candy, in and of itself, is a representation of love. If you think about giving candy to a loved one on valentine’s day, sweets in a box with flowers on mother’s day, candy has long been tied to affection and love. While the candy is eaten, while the body begins to disappear, the love remains.

While there has been much development and change since the 80’s and 90’s, there has been no cure and there has remained a stigma attached to the disease. Treatment allows individuals with HIV to live long and fairly normal lives, however there is still much more work needed in the area, and there is need for unstigmatized conversation.

This work of art says so much and is absolutely just as important today as it was in the 90’s. If you ever have the chance, this is a piece you must see.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres - "Untitled" (Portrait of Ross in L.A.), 1991, The Art Institute of Chicago
Felix Gonzalez-TorresUntitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.), 1991, Candies individually wrapped in multicolor cellophane, endless supply. Dimensions vary with installation; ideal weight 175 lbs. At The Art Institute of Chicago

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Nude Venus inspects a rag of clothes (sfw)

Nude Venus inspects a rag of clothes (sfw)

Michelangelo Pistoletto - Venus of the Rags, 1967, 1974
Michelangelo PistolettoVenus of the Rags, 1967, 1974, Marble and textiles, 2120 x 3400 x 1100 mm

Michelangelo Pistoletto’s (b. 1933) Venus of the Rags contrasts the life-sized statue of the Roman goddess of love, beauty and fertility. Pistoletto’s depiction stands with a large pile of vibrantly colored and discarded clothes that are mounded on the ground, positioned with her back to the viewers, her face and body rest against the pile of fabrics that upsurges before her, so her face is ultimately veiled.

Venus acts as a renowned idea of the principle of Western art, invoking Italy’s cultural history in a paradoxical and sort of tongue in cheek way. Through the combination of a classical statue with a mountain of rags the artist proclaims a series of binaries: hard vs. soft, colorless vs. vivid colors and much more. These binaries lay unmediated before the audience’s eyes, the contrast between the classical and contemporary is not lost on us. The rags demonstrate an amount of profane that can only come with the everyday, with the discarded, and with the unrecognized beauty of what we already possess.

Venus of the Rags remarks on successions of consumption, while possessing its own history of change through the making of the newer versions of the work, which involved modifications to the piles of rags, using the original rags or changing them. Think of an item of clothing that you loved once then discarded, think of its beauty and what attracted you to it. Venus of the Rags with the discarded rumpled cloths in an array of colors invokes that memory of something that was once beautiful and once loved, but now is little more than beautiful waste. Something that once held meaning of love and transformed unknowingly into meaning of loss. Maybe, that is why it is so easy for all of us to connect to this piece- the fact that we all face the mound of rags and the mound of altered meaning.

Michelangelo Pistoletto - Venus of the Rags, 1967, 1974
Michelangelo PistolettoVenus of the Rags, 1967, 1974

Michelangelo Pistoletto - Venus of the Rags, 1967, 1974
Michelangelo PistolettoVenus of the Rags, 1967, 1974, Marble and textiles, 2120 x 3400 x 1100 mm

Michelangelo Pistoletto - Venus of the Rags, 1967, 1974
Michelangelo PistolettoVenus of the Rags, 1967, 1974, Plast gold, rags, 2120 x 3400 x 1100 mm
At Dallas Museum of Art

Michelangelo Pistoletto - Venus of the Rags (1964–2016), Photo- Tom Lindboe. Courtesy of the Blenheim Art Foundation
Michelangelo PistolettoVenus of the Rags, 1964–2016, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, England
Courtesy of the Blenheim Art Foundation, Photo: Tom Lindboe


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