Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Wisecracks (UPDATED)

In this morning's New York Times, Sarah Lyall has some fun with Doris Salcedo's "Shibboleth," "the giant crack in the floor at the Tate Modern" which, as I noted here, has led to a reported 15 (minor) injuries since it opened in October:

"'How dim would you have to be?' Mark Knight, a 41-year-old nurse from Ipswich, asked rhetorically the other day. '"Oh, no, I wasn’t expecting the crack to be there,"' Mr. Knight whined, imagining the inner monologue of an injured party. 'There’s a crack there, but hey, when I put my foot in there, I didn’t expect to trip in it.'"

Lyall writes that, when she was there, "visitors seemed filled with wonder, not only at the artwork’s grand gesture but also at the mildness of the hazard it represents":

"The first thing you see when you enter the [gallery] are signs saying, 'Warning: Danger of Falling,' illustrated with a picture of a stick figure who has tripped on something and is about to fall down. Also, the crack is hard to miss, there on its own in the middle of the floor, surrounded by people taking pictures of it, peering down into it, stepping across it and walking alongside it. 'The exhibit is all about the crack,' said Peter Girard, 38, an American tourist. 'It’s a really big crack. What are you looking at if you’re not looking at the crack?' ... Two visitors from the Netherlands, Manon Straatman and her husband, Victor, were equally mystified by the perils of 'Shibboleth.' 'Maybe someone walks into the museum and isn’t interested in what’s in the museum,' Mrs. Straatman mused. Mr. Straatman said the crack was modest in its width and depth, hardly the sort of gaping abyss into which you might plummet to your doom."

But wouldn't you know it . . . as they are talking, someone nearly plummets to her doom:

"'Oh look, there’s someone falling now,' [Mr. Straatman] said suddenly. Indeed there was: A woman nearby had caught her foot in the crack and pitched awkwardly forward, ending up sprawled on the floor. The woman, who later identified herself as Anne McNicholas, a 51-year-old medical researcher from New Zealand, said she had arranged to meet some friends in the gallery and had not been looking where she was going. 'I just didn’t see it,' she said. She was not impressed by the exhibit, particularly in light of her injuries: a nasty scrape-cum-bruise on her right knee and an even nastier one on her left shin. 'I don’t think it should be there at all.' she said. 'It’s not America,' she added pointedly, 'so I won’t sue.'"

The last word is given to Uros Vasiljevic, a 29-year-old businessman visiting from Serbia: "Art is dangerous sometimes."

UPDATE: Richard Lacayo gets to thinking about some really dangerous art.