The New York Amsterdam News, Thursday, August 27 - September 2, 2009
Arts & Entertainment: Life and Death at Triple Candie
By Damaso Reyes
Usually it is a particularly bad review that can be said to kill the career of an artist. The curators at Harlem's Triple Candie have taken matters into their own hands and kiled off an artist themselves - at least metaphorically speaking. Curators Shelly Bancroft and Peter Nesbett have created an insightful and humorous look at the work of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan.
The only problem is that he isn't dead.
"We see his methodology as being closely related to Triple Candie's. He is a trickster who is constantly trying to surprise and undermine the art world," Bancroft told the AmNews. The show takes the form of a timeline on the gallery's walls, which notes important moments in the life of the artist as well as press clippings and recreated (sometimes faithful, often kitschy) examples of his work. For an artist who once stole the contents of another gallery and presented ill-gotten goods as his own, this is a fascinating homage.
"We feel a certain affinity with him in doing things without seeking permission," Nesbett said in an interview. "For us, the show was a way of figuring out how we felt about him and his work."
"The more I research his work, the more neutral my feelings became about it," Bancroft added. The work has been provoking and offending for decades, and much of his work deals with the subject of death, from his famous piece of the Pope squashed by a meteorite to a taxidermy squirrel who has blown its brains out sitting at a table. The curators took the next logical step and killed the artist off, offering their own intervention.
But what did the artist think? Once can image the reaction on emight have at hearing that a couple of curators in Harlem have bumped you off.
"He did ask right off the bat why we killed him off and seemed, potentially, a little hurt," Bancroft said. "I explained to thim that the idea came directly from his work, that he had been trying to kill himself off through different characters (the squirrel, Pinocchio and the donkey), all of which he has said represent him for most of his career. We just thought we would help him along. He was silent for a minute and then said, and I am paraphrasing him now, 'That makes sense'."
This show is a great example of the provocative and thought-provoking work Triple Candie is known for. Who else in New York, let alone Harlem, would have the audacity to murder an artist and have a show about it?