Letters In September, the artists Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla unveiled Puerto Rican Light (Cueva Vientos). The work, commissioned by the Dia Art Foundation in New York, consists of an original 1965 light sculpture by Dan Flavin from the Dia collection, which the artists have installed in a monumental cave in Puerto Rico. The work will remain on display until September 2017.
Allora and Calzadilla’s installation is an abuse of Dan Flavin’s work That an explanation is necessary of what is objectionable about the abuse of Dan Flavin’s art by the artists Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla is stunning. However, this seems to be the case.
That a work of art by one artist may be taken from an institution’s collection and used to satisfy a gesture of ego by another artist (or artists) is objectionable.
That this work of art should be placed in a context that is completely alien to the original artist’s concept, with complete and utter disregard for that concept, is objectionable.
That this placement requires an enclosure to prevent bat excrement from accumulating on it, and that this enclosure alters the physical shape of the original work, is objectionable.
That this abuse of the actual work of art, and therefore the work itself as a component of its own abuse, may be claimed to be the art of another artist with a new title to reinforce this claim is
That a “tribute” to the original artist may be gleaned from the following initial description of this installation is perplexing: “The work’s methodology of inversion, dependency, power and distancing will certainly reverberate with the history of uneven exchanges between the United States and Puerto Rico.” (The artists seem to have abandoned this more political stance as objections to the project were raised.)
That this is the third iteration of this abuse, and that the current iteration will be allowed to carry on for two years, and had been considered for permanent installation, is objectionable.
That institutions charged with the support and care of works of art would allow and facilitate this abuse, by providing an actual work of art from their collection as a plaything for another artist, and by providing space in which this abuse may take place, is objectionable.
That this abuse may be rationalised with high-minded arguments in its favour, under the ambiguous concept of “appropriation”, is objectionable.
This installation bears no relation to the work of Dan Flavin. It ignores his own concepts of composition and architectural context, which were key components of his fluorescent light installations. And it initially seemed to be the wish of the artists to make a political statement on what they felt to be the cultural inequities between the United States and Puerto Rico, an issue in which Dan Flavin played no role. As well, it is troubling that the artists felt comfortable laying claim to this installation (and the preceding ones) as their own art, and not as simply a curatorial effort.
What is to become of an artist’s work after it has been used as the work of another? What is to become of an institution’s collection once it has opened it up to be used as material for the art of others? It is unfortunate that these objections and considerations are not glaringly obvious to many people participating in the making and support of art.
Let the rationalisations carry forth.
Stephen Flavin, Dan Flavin Estate, Garrison,
Goldsmiths college does not offer any online fine art courses Goldsmiths College Department of Art does not offer online art courses of any kind, contrary to what you claimed in your story “Art schools offer online tuition for all” (The Art Newspaper, December 2015, p7). Such courses would run counter to our pedagogical ethos, which involves an active and sympathetic engagement with students and their work in the studios we provide for them. At Goldsmiths, the students’ work constitutes 75% of the curriculum, so they have to make work in situ and be able to talk about it with their tutors and their fellow students.
In addition, all serious art schools in the UK should be opposed to online courses, because of their potential to undermine our excellent system of further education foundation courses. The suggestion that online courses could replace foundation courses is a travesty but will add fuel to the current government’s attack on the whole further education sector, and fine art foundation courses in particular.
Art schools and art foundation courses add enormous cultural and financial value to Britain; we should be supporting them, not deracinating them by turning them into web-based products.
Richard Noble, head, department of art, Goldsmiths, University of London
Corrections • In our article about the removal of a mural by the London street artist Stik from a community
project in Gdansk, Poland, and the subsequent consignment of the work to a London gallery (“Row erupts after Gdansk street art goes on sale”, November 2015, p9), we reported that the artist
had threatened legal action against the Lazania Centre for Contemporary Art, which commissioned the mural. Stik has asked us to clarify that he
was, in fact, only considering and not threatening legal action.
• In our article “At home with female Arab muralists” (December 2015, p3), we misspelled the name of the UK artist and Edge of Arabia co-founder Stephen Stapleton. We apologise for the error.
• In our article “Gilded Age or gilded cage? The struggle of private museums” (December, pp17-18), we incorrectly stated the name of the founder of the Barnes Foundation. It is Albert Barnes, not Alfred Barnes. (We did know, really.)
• In our Year in Review article “How was 2015 for you?” (December, p50), we printed an incorrect photo credit. The photo of Lauren Haynes was taken by Julie Quon, not Julie Kwon.
• In our article about Gary Hume leaving White Cube (The Art Newspaper 2, December, p3), we stated that Sprüth Magers gallery continues to represent the artist in Germany. The gallery has clarified that its relationship with Hume is not regional.
• In our article “Gallery ‘will stand by results’ of tests on works by Pollock” (The Art Newspaper 2, November, p4), we reported on a group of six paintings from a collection of 30 said to be by Jackson Pollock, which have been analysed by Art Access & Research.
We wrote that Johnessco Rodriguez, the director of the Art Monaco fair, had seen a video testimony by the art historian and physicist Richard Taylor in which, Rodriguez told us, Taylor said that he “had never seen such a perfect match” [to accepted works by Jackson Pollock] in relation to the paintings at the fair. Taylor contacted us to clarify that this was not what he said. Meanwhile, Rodriguez says that there has been a misunderstanding, as the proof provided to him was in relation to the collection as a whole, and not exclusively for works shown at the fair.