Sunday, September 22, 2013


I went to experience the James Turrell exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum yesterday. I couldn’t believe how badly this show was botched - the wonder and awe and majesty sucked out of this magnificent art by a wrong headed presentation of the work. I understand that this may not be the fault of the museum, the curators, or any of those who likely worked very hard preparing the show; but having seen Turrell’s work twice before under better circumstances, I felt really bad for James (and the folks who were there to experience his work for the first time). It is the discovery and the transcendent quality of this work that makes it such a powerful experience. This was made all but inaccessible at the Guggenheim show, in multiple instances forcing one to experience the work solely through the description of museum guards rather than through one’s own individual exploration. After waiting close to an hour in an interior line (after waiting as long outside the museum) we were allowed a minute or two to view the last piece before the guard explained to us that Turrell was an “illusionist,” explained to us what we were supposed to see (and not see), and why we could not approach the piece ourselves - because someone had gotten hurt falling through an opening in a piece in another show…

The piece in the rotunda (Aten Reign - one of only five light pieces in the show) was gorgeous, but even there we were told to get up off the floor (“on the mat or on the benches only”). Thank goodness they are keeping us safe from James Turrell.

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