July 15, 2016

"If the museum didn’t want people to follow the artist’s instructions, they should put up a sign to make that clear, she told police."

A 91-year-old woman inked words into "Reading-work-piece," which basically looks like a crossword puzzle. The sign next to it read "Insert words."

Somehow this piece has been around, unmarked, since 1977.
Eva Kraus, the museum director,  said the damage was not permanent and would probably be relatively easy to repair. "We do realize that the old lady didn’t mean any harm," she said. "Nevertheless, as a state museum couldn’t avoid making a criminal complaint. Also for insurance reasons we had to report the incident to the police.... We will let the lady know that the collector took the damage to the work in good humour, so she doesn’t have a sleepless night," Ms Kraus said.

The museum said that in future it would alter the label for the work to make it clear visitors were not permitted to fill in the blanks.
Doesn't that wreck the work of art? It's conceptual art, a Fluxus movement thing.



Based on that I say: Screw the collector. What was the artist, Arthur Köpcke, doing and what the woman's act mean to him? His Wikipedia page is not in English, but here's something:
In the mid-1960s Arthur Köpcke worked on a series of works that he called Reading-Work-Pieces. The individual ”pieces” consist of a wide range of materials, including picture puzzles, tests used within perception psychology, long philosophical texts, crosswords, and instructions for perfectly simple everyday actions. He painted the pieces in oil on canvas, adding cuttings from newspapers or magazines.

With his reading and training pieces, the artist wished to increase the spectators’ awareness of the systems, actions, and rituals that we persist in and carry out every day without reflecting on them. Behind the seemingly disparate and random materials, the cryptic statements, the subtly humorous tasks, and the banal pictures lies a deep interest in the functions and meanings of signs and sign systems....
So can we go for some depth here? 

20 comments:

buwaya puti said...

That manifesto inspires me to jail the manifestee.
For his own good probably.

rhhardin said...

Abbie Hoffman "Steal This Book"

Sebastian said...

"So can we go for some depth here?" No, uh-uh. That's no way to "promote non art reality." Which we all know is superficial. Depth is such a romantic, bourgeois concept. Another thing that's outdated, as I'm sure RBG would agree.

rehajm said...

One or two more old lady defacings and we can qualify them as an original artistic movement...

Ann Althouse said...

"Abbie Hoffman "Steal This Book""

Yes, I thought about that as I was writing the post. Everyone was supposed to know not to actually steal the book. But did anyone get caught stealing?

rehajm said...

The Dementiaists

Ann Althouse said...

"One or two more old lady defacings and we can qualify them as an original artistic movement."

That's referred to at the link (along with a few other things). The 2 incidents are very different. In one, the woman believed she could do restoration on an old painting that had, without the artist intending it, degraded to the point of needing restoration. In this one, the woman encountered a work that had been given an ambiguous conceptual-art presentation and understood it as the artist's intention that the viewer actually do something. It is even arguable that she is the first one to understand the art, and the artist may have intended us to discuss that!

Rob said...

"The old lady" seems pretty ageist. Even "lady" seems reductionist.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I'm guessing there's no sculpture out there with a sign next to it that reads "Insert erection."

Fernandinande said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tim in vermont said...

I guess there is no end to the fun some people have with the fact that human language is not bound to reality, like maybe a machine language might be, so you can say things that are true and not true mixed and unmixed.

It's really deep man...

PB said...

I hope the insurance company denies the claim and the museum has to pay the restoration costs. Putting "Insert words" next to it instead of the proper title can only be considered by a reasonable person to be an invitation to interact with the art. Of course the meaning of "reasonable person" has been somewhat tarnished lately.

Fernandinande said...

"Reading-work-piece", a 1977 work by Arthur Köpcke of the Fluxus movement, essentially looks like an empty crossword puzzle.

That's not art. Pretending it is art is a form of virtue-signaling.

Teen-aged-girl style "manifesto" says: "Purge the world of Europanism."

Peter said...

Didn't Orwell identify this sort of speech in 1984 as "duckspeak"?

(Insert something here about yellow running-dog imperialists?)

damikesc said...

She's proof positive that nothing can be made idiot-proof. Idiots are a remarkably ingenius lot.

Abbie Hoffman "Steal This Book"

Did he refuse the money from the book?

Expat(ish) said...

I actually did steal that book, from a five and dime, back when drugstores had a spinning rack for books.

I still have my copy. But I have never made sandals from old tires.

-XC

Smilin' Jack said...

With his reading and training pieces, the artist wished to increase the spectators’ awareness of the systems, actions, and rituals that we persist in and carry out every day without reflecting on them. Behind the seemingly disparate and random materials, the cryptic statements, the subtly humorous tasks, and the banal pictures lies a deep interest in the functions and meanings of signs and sign systems....

So can we go for some depth here?


Sounds like a quarter-inch would do it. So put up a warning sign: "No Diving."

mikee said...

The Baltimore Museum of Art has a outdoor sculpture garden which includes a nude female figure of amazing vitality. When I took my toddlers to the museum, I always told them that their mother was the model for that beautiful statue. After a few trips, they automatically ran up to the statue, wrapping their arms around its legs, screaming out a joyous "MOMMY!"

This disconcerted the other museum patrons, and got me some odd looks, but the real payoff occurred when my wife was finally able to join us on a museum trip and wondered what the heck her kids were thinking. I didn't tell her until the kids were both gone for college.

dustbunny said...

What kind of museum has no guards or cameras? I can't think of a museum I've been to that didn't have a guard to warn patrons from getting too close to the art much less having time to fill in a puzzle without setting off alarms.

Joe said...

Thanks, mikee, you made me laugh. Major thumbs up!