Art or Offensive? You Decide

October 9, 2012 | By | 5 Comments

ConcordiaArtExhibit
Standing before Thomas Hirschhorn’s “Concordia, Concordia” exhibition, at the Gladstone Gallery in New York City, it’s easy to feel a little off-balance.
The Swiss artist’s gargantuan spectacle, a roughly 25-foot-by-32-foot-by-52-foot recreation of Costa Concordia’s casino after the ship listed, is on display through Oct. 20.
Concordia struck a rock off the coast of Giglio, a small Italian island, on January 13, 2012, and consequently listed. An evacuation was required, and 32 people died. The ship remains partially submerged, and removal efforts will get underway in 2013.
Hirschhorn’s piece depicts a slanted room in which wall is floor and floor is wall; chairs, lifejackets, dishes and decorations come cascading to your feet from a mountain of debris. A grand piano juts out from the side, bolted to what was the floor.

In an artist’s statement that accompanies the exhibition, Hirschhorn said he was inspired by photos of the inside of the wrecked ship, which he believed showed its “cumbersome inutility.”
“I was struck by this apocalyptic upside-down vision of the banal and cheap ‘nice, fake and cozy’ interior of the overturned ship,” Hirschhorn said.
Liz Armstrong, a Hirschhorn fan who came with two friends to see the exhibit, said she was impressed by the piece’s size and attention to detail.
“You feel like you’re on the boat,” Armstrong said. “You feel tilted.”
Among the debris: two televisions with flashing images of newscasts — the exhibition’s only moving pieces — and scattered pages of an English translation of Marx’s “Das Kapital.”
Armstrong said she wasn’t surprised by the political message.
“Hirschhorn always has a lot of politics and government tied into what he does,” she said.
In his artist’s statement, Hirschhorn referenced the 2008 financial bailout of American banks.
“I want to do a Big work to show that the saying ‘Too Big to Fail’ no longer makes any sense. On the contrary, when something is Too Big, it must Fail – this is what I want to give Form to,” Hirschhorn wrote.
As she walked out of the gallery, tourist Sherry Nathan said the political commentary was confusing.
“It’s cool to see a piece of art that’s that big, but I’m not sure I get the point,” Nathan said.
No matter one’s feelings about the work, everyone seemed struck by its size.
“It’s tremendous,” said Glori Cohen, a New York City-based art advisor. “You can’t forget it.”
What do you think? Is this art? Does it straddle the line between highbrow and lowbrow? Leave your comments below.
Read more about the Concordia disaster here.
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    Comments

    5 Responses to “Art or Offensive? You Decide”

    1. Kate B in AZ
      October 9th, 2012 @ 4:43 pm

      It looks like a big tacky mess.

    2. Laurie Willits
      October 9th, 2012 @ 5:18 pm

      Why make art out of something so devastating to so many of us! I am offended!!!! The artist wasn’t there, he didn’t experience what we experienced! What a sad spectacle he has created!

    3. Jean
      October 9th, 2012 @ 5:46 pm

      Offensive and insensitive!!!

    4. Art Nerd
      October 13th, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

      “art” and “offensive,” are not mutually exclusive. in fact, they are often mutually inclusive, if that’s a thing.

      Anyway – his whole “too big to fail” statement is contrived. It is – at best – silly to compare a literal sinking ship from real life – a real and recent tragedy, to the metaphorical sinking ship of the world economy. The very fact of building a replica of the Concordia, however, is not any more offensive than making a painting of the Titanic, or a film about the Civil War. I suppose you could say “too soon,” though.

      It is art, and it is highbrow.

      Most importantly, nice writing, great article!

    5. Diana
      October 14th, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

      A real work of art is a thing of beauty and symmetry. This is “work” is a joke, and is insulting to many.

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