Wednesday, June 14, 2006

You call that art? I say, call PETA.


Killed by art! Specifically, dead birds killed by having smashed to their death into a transparent piece of glass erected on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Chinese contemporary artist, Cai Guo-Qiang: the aptly titled, Transparent Monument. Add to that, a couple of ersatz crocodiles impaled by hundreds of jackknives, nail clippers, nose-hair trimmers and sewing scissors (all of them confiscated at airport security checkpoints)...and you have all of the makings of one outraged Yoga Chickie.

Actually, we were all of us outraged, all of us in our little party of museum-goers yesterday evening at New York's biggest block party, the Museum evening where approximately one mile of Fifth Avenue in NYC is closed off to vehicular traffic so that people, children and dogs alike can mill about, see street performers juggling and swallowing fire, draw with colored chalk on the ashpalt and attend exhibits at any number of famous museums (the Guggenheim, the Met, among others), all of which are open all evening, with free admission to boot.

As we entered the rooftop, we looked with awe and admiration at this incredibly arresting piece of glass cutting an angle through the sky and soaring towards the clouds, revealing the city's jagged skyline through its transparency. Oh, lovely city! Oh, lovely museum! Oh, breathtaking dichotomy between the smooth, transparency of the glass and the rough, opacity of the buildings seen through the glass! My mind was ecstatically spinning poetic analysis of this modern-day monolith when I saw the dead birds laying at its feet. With a mixture of shame, fear and anger, my heart leapt into my throat. I felt duped. Here I was admiring the beauty of what turned out to be deadly that sang a siren song of death to innocent birds. Or worse, birds carrying disease: "NO!!!!" I screamed to my children, "Step away from the art..dead birds!!!"

I must admit, it did strike me as a bit odd that amid the throngs on the Met rooftop, I was the only one seeming to be having this reaction. Didn't anyone other than me see the dead birds? Hello? Wasn't anyone else upset by the notion that bird-homicide was being tolerated as a by-product of so-called art? As I looked around the roof, I only became more agitated to see the violence being carried out upon crocodiles, albeit clay ones.

The kids were, of course, intrigued. So intrigued, in fact, that it was hard to keep them away. It was Adam who poked at one of the dead birds just enough to (a) attract the attention of one of the museum guards and (b) ascertain that the whole thing was a fake....the birds were merely paper maiche, wire and feathers.

But this, more than anything else I have ever seen in a museum, was art. It made us react. It made us feel. It made us think about the consequences OF art, even if those consequences were, as it turned out, purely fictional.



Yogamum said...

I think they put the papier mache birds out there just to make you *think* no birds were killed in the making of this art. The real dead birds just blend in, see?

Philip, Tallahassee, FL said...

You know those black bird silohettes that they put on large panes of glass so birds do not fly into the glass. Well anyway, they are way tacky looking, despite their function. If you want to get back at this artist, tape some of these guys up on the glass. Anyway, why should all the other panes of glass have to suffer, and this one not!

Peter Matthes said...

There is a very fine line between art and stupid.

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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