In April, Christopher Knight via the L.A. Times CultureMonster blog tossed some criticism toward the Washington City Paper (specifically Kriston Capps, Jeffry Cudlin, and I), for an article that made fun of an unsuccessful attack on a Gauguin painting. (Unfortunately we couldn't become web-famous for a day, because he didn't mention us by name... he did call us dumb.) The biggest offense in our blog post was not that we pretended there were other works of art we'd destroy first, but that I claimed to defacing a Sol LeWitt wall drawing weekly. (Which is ludicrous on many levels.) Several other art blogs were upset at us because they expected better. Perhaps they were right. (Though, in our defense, I still maintain that we wrote the piece for the blog of a weekly tabloid four days after April Fool's Day, and that the tabloid gets a large sum of revenue from "adult" shops. The New York Times the Washington City Paper is not.)
Christopher Knight might be tickled pink to learn that Karma has turned its ugly head.
Friday, a group of MoMA Young Associates came down to see the WPA's Options 2011, amongst a few other stops. They toured the exhibition and listened to some of the artists discuss their works. When it was my turn to speak, I stopped mid-sentence and noticed that someone had amended my installation.
My past couple of blog posts have mentioned this work. It's a series of collaborations with day laborers, whom I hired for 30 minutes to complete an hour of labor, and to discuss their experiences. Most of the laborers are immigrants, and some I learned are illegal. We've discussed labor issues, abusive treatment, sneaking into the country, being unable to sneak out as easily, and personal stories about family, lost love, and politics. I've been fairly fortunate that my work in the exhibition has received some mention in The Washington Post and on Pink Line Project.
The work in the show is an installation of completed projects - documentation, if you will. On the wall behind the saw horses, lumber, fasteners, and tools, are accounts of my conversations with these men. One of the men told me a story about the woman he intended to marry upon his return to Mexico. He hoped to return to Mexico a year after he left. He's been stuck in the States for four years, and she has since married and had a child. He called her Ani, and he wrote her name on a board in nails. As I began to talk about the projects to the MoMA Young Associates I looked down. Some ass hole added a series of nails in the shape of a triangle.
I've worked as a carpenter's assistant. I know it's not uncommon for crews to "correct" the work of a "Mexican" (as some of these men are called by passersby - a lot of them are not from Mexico). This was not work that needed correction. Alas, it is now a part of the piece.
Considering the work is conceptual, and that the story is the more profound piece of art, I don't really think of the work as getting defaced. And, considering the climate of hostility toward illegal immigrants, I think its addition is fitting. I'm still peeved, though.