Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Christoph Büchel vs. MassMOCA

The Artist vs. The Institution

Art and law really seem like oil and vinegar; they don’t mix well. Many of us think art is for nourishing our spirits, while law functions in the domain of unpleasant necessities, so it is strikingly newsworthy when art and law confront each other as in the malicious case of the artist: Christoph Büchel vs. the institution: MassMOCA.

Click here for a recent photo essay:

I experienced Büchel’s meaty installation Shelter II at the O.K.Centrum in Linz, Austria (their photo) in the summer of 2002 . One first had to enter a sausage stand on the sidewalk and climb into the building, passing through rooms literally and figuratively frozen in entropy. Feeling like a disembodied Alice in a dysfunctional wonderland, I was so moved by how Büchel could convey anxiety to me, the viewer, that I quickly wrote an essay about this work and sent it to him.

The moral of the story is that the relationship between an artist and an institution is a lot like a marriage: some work out well, while others really require a pre-nup agreement.

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