I know it’s an eternal question but it cropped up again twice this evening when I was checking through my emails. Firstly, there was a newsletter from Hyperallergic about “Greg Allen‘s new show at Apexart in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood. Titled Exhibition Space (pics), the show was a fascinating investigation into the optics of early American space travel.”
The newsletter went on “Allen had a replica of one of the many mylar balloons that the Americans planned to shoot into space as some sort of governmental PR gimmick recreated — it sits in the corner of the gallery like some glorious space marble…. You can’t help but see how Minimalism, Pop, Conceptual, and other art movements of the era must’ve been influenced by the space race and these gorgeous modern objects that were being created at the time.
“The show is a breath of fresh air, full of ideas, scientific and press photographs, and a high modernist object — you’re never quite sure if it is “art” and in many ways you don’t care.
“The show highlighted why I respect nonprofit spaces like Apexart, namely because they act like the R&D laboratories of the art world, where artists and curators can try out new risky ideas without any concern for the market. It also reminded me how I adore art that probes the forgotten corners of history, while making connections that others have long ignored.”
So basically this ‘art’ show appears to consist of a replica scientific/engineering artefact and photographs. Hmmm.
Also in my email inbox was today’s ArtDaily newsletter (to which it is worth subscribing, if you don’t already – see ArtDaily.org). While most of the articles were about exhibitions, art auctions and so on, there was a curious item headed “Amazon’s Jeff Bezos recovers Apollo 11 engines; serial numbers from the engines have been eroded“.
According to Bezos “We’ve seen an underwater wonderland — an incredible sculpture garden of twisted F-1 engines that tells the story of a fiery and violent end, one that serves testament to the Apollo program. … The objects themselves are gorgeous,” he said. “We photographed many beautiful objects in situ and have now recovered many prime pieces. Each piece we bring on deck conjures for me the thousands of engineers who worked together back then to do what for all time had been thought surely impossible. … We want the hardware to tell its true story, including its 5,000 mile per hour re-entry and subsequent impact with the ocean surface.”
I said that I thought the item was ‘curious’ but only because it was in an art newsletter. Had it been an article in my newspaper or a piece on the TV news, I wouldn’t have thought anything strange about it. But is it art?