Incident In Art Land
From the New Yorker:
"Quietly moving through the Anselm Kiefer show at the Gagosian gallery on its final afternoon were eight people wearing black T-shirts that bore the show's portentous title—“Next Year in Jerusalem”—in English, Hebrew, and Arabic. They didn't speak unless spoken to; they took pictures of themselves standing before some equally portentous works of Holocaust-evoking art. (Everyone was taking pictures; the catalogue cost a hundred dollars.)More here
Only if approached did one of the group explain that they were part of an organization called U.S. Boat to Gaza, which plans to sponsor a ship in the next flotilla to sail against the Israeli blockade. Half of the group had left, and they were reduced to four by the time that gallery representatives asked them to leave, unimpressed by their claims to be extending the discussion that Kiefer had begun. Morality. Guilt. Jewish tragedy, past and present. (“This is private property,” a gallerista in towering heels shot back. “We're here to sell art.”)
A call to the police was threatened. In response, the activists put on their jackets—covering the offending Passover phrase, even while complaining that it had not, to their knowledge, been copyrighted—and asked if they might stay. Without reply, the representatives walked away...
Ingrid Homberg had gone to Gagosian that day to lift her spirits. A delicate blonde woman in her late fifties, she grew up in Germany—she is roughly of Kiefer's generation—but never felt that she belonged there; she moved to New York with her young daughter in 1980, and the city has proved a much happier fit. In recent years, however, she has been ill (fibromyalgia, arthritis) and suffers frequent pain. Still, she was immediately buoyed by Kiefer's magisterial landscapes, in which massive wings overhead suggest the judgment of God. The gallery was filled with such disturbing images. She had earlier noticed the people in the T-shirts, and now she approached them, hoping to discuss the feelings that the artist's work provoked.
But there was no discussion. Two police officers arrived just a moment after Homberg did, and ordered the group out. Including Homberg. She said that she had no reason to leave. She asked one of the officers—“Young man,” she addressed him, and he did look very young—why they did not allow the group to speak. And that was it. His partner grabbed her by the arm and began to pull her out..."
Considering the nature of Anselm Kiefer's work and the themes of history, destruction, rembering and forgetting, societal guilt, judgement, atonement and more that run through it like strata, I find this story not only particularly ironic but also damningly telling.
I think that one phrase says it all; “This is private property... we're here to sell art"
Anselm Kiefer, Flying Fortress (2010), foreground, with Cetus (2010), in "Next Year in Jerusalem" at Gagosian Gallery