Modern Art

Monday, May 23, 2011

D’s littlest brother visited us this weekend (I say little but he actually just graduated college - yeah!) – he took this last opportunity to hang out with us in DC before we head south of the border! 

We did a lot of the touristy stuff – walked way too much, enjoyed the monuments, and hit up a Smithsonian.  Because that is what you do in DC! 

We went to the Hirshhorn Museum (the circle building next to the castle).  D and I had actually never been to this Smithsonian. Inside there were some pretty intriguing, colourful, and head tilting pieces.  The museum's spacious exhibits and vibrant art were all truly interesting, and it was a refreshing change to see ‘modern art’ focusing on the post WWII period.  

Overall… I’d go back – and kind of wish I knew about this museum sooner!

But there is one installment that stood out the most – I’m not sure if it was because of the ‘work of art’ itself but because of another passerby’s enthusiasm and our bewilderment. 

Let me introduce you to it…


First off, you are quite welcome for expanding your horizons and enlightening your existence with this modern marvel.

What?  You think this picture was taking from the wrong angle.  Oh no my friend… This is not a pedestal for a MIA piece of art.  But this is a cube, a cube with condensation in it. 

I understand. You need a minute to take it all in.  I did too.  So while you do that let me get you up to speed. 

Haacke’s goal with this piece was to show a physical occurrence [cough*fancy termforcondensation*cough] in real time. Actually, his early installations were all about real time phenomena.  (Maybe one day I will be so lucky to see his wind installment – the blue sail moved by a fan.)  I enjoy modern art, heck D and I were married at an art museum, but this piece wasn’t quite doing it for me.  All joking aside, I have since done some research and actually, his later works do get a bit more interesting, less natural occurrences and more commentary on political and social systems.

So, back to this cube.  D, his brother, and I are all standing around it, confused. The security guard starts telling us how he has heard that there is some mold growing in it and it needs to be cleaned out, so we all peer into it to look for the mold (ohhhhhahhhhhmold)– no such luck.  At that point a passing by art enthusiast lays eyes on the cube. 

Art Lover: Oh my, this is amazing.
Security Guard: Yeah, it’s interesting.
Art Lover: This is spectacular. 
Security Guard: Yeah, and the condensation looks a bit different every day.
Art Lover: Absolutely remarkable. 

At this point Art Lover's jaw has dropped and she has already walked around the cube about three times – and she wasn’t just staring at the cube to look for mold - like us.

I slowly back away – partially frightened that we have stumbled on and subsequently had been unimpressed by a revered installation.  I didn’t want to upset the condensation gods anymore.

So, Art Lover likes condensation. Good for her.  But, I wonder how much my kindergarten life science lesson would have changed her [or Haacke's] world. 

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