Tuesday, January 23, 2007

ICA Redux

(note to self: blog post on the word redux and how obnoxious it is)

Last time I visited our city's Institute of Contemporary Art, I walked away with this story, so I can place that in time as...a long time ago. It was a Yoko Ono exhibit which featured a piece which invited us (the viewers) to add a nail to a board -- thereby becoming part of the art, you see. Pete and I have laughed about this for "yeez," as we say.

In an attempt to revitalize the south waterfront, and give the art somewhere to breathe, the City has made the investment in a beautiful new ICA, full of the same ridiculous art.

SJL and I decided we had best make this pilgrimage together, since we both detest contemporary art, and we could view it openly and safely, then answer all future invitations with, "Oh, I already went. You should really go, though, it's beautiful."

I'll spare you how cold a day it was, how fiercely windy it always is on the water, and also the description of the new Courthouse subway stop, which is breathtakingly clean, and eerily empty on a Sunday. I spare you all that because we want to get right to heart of this story, and let it be a lesson to you new parents out there.

The museum used to be in a shotgun building wedged between the former police precinct turned restaurant, and a firehouse still firehouse on a busy Back Bay corner with no parking and less signage. There was barely room for the Mapplethorpe protesters! Oh, if they could see the old girl now.

In its excitement to welcome everyone to its new home, the ICA has a "Children Under 17 FREE" policy that I predict, based on what we witnessed, ends by Presidents' Day. In fact, I predict that instead of Free, they will make you leave a security deposit.

Let's pause (for dramatic effect) and wonder together why you would bring a child to view contemporary art
Exhibits A
and C

except it is free and a very cold day. And the Children's Museum is closed until April.

SLG and I enter the first gallery and begin to practice our useful phrases:
- well I could have done that.
- pffft.
- What? Oh. I get it.
- whatever

You must now study the image above, which is displayed on a platform on the floor just inside the "Permanent Collection"
Just as I am saying, "Now this is the kind of thing one can appreciate, even if you don't like it," we hear the elevator {{Ding}} and a 3 year-old boy comes tearing out, into the gallery, and right on top of the piece. This wool... sculpture (?) is 12 feet in diameter, and he is sitting right in the center square of it, proudly yelling "Mommy!"

Later, we thought, that should be a performance piece -- every half hour or so they should re-enact it, because it certainly drew a crowd. People audibly gasped, and the docent looked at S and me like it might be our child, but the pale, panic-stricken, about-to-be sick woman the child was beaming at was a dead giveaway.

She scooped him up and faded into another gallery while the docent tended to the wounded baby bird that was now Pom Pom City. (By the way, ICA, if you have not confessed this incident to the artist, she has just now googled herself and the jig is up.) He radioed the Security Guards ("we live for this!") and they quickly huddled to decide what to do.

Meanwhile, as another patron was quick to report, Boy Let Loose in Museum had already knocked this over and was running his toy car along the gallery wall.

This is what your teacher used to call "ruining it for the rest of us."

We did not actually witness the heave-ho. Not that I wish any ill will on a poor family who clearly was trying to introduce a little cultural field trip into little Nicky's repertoire . I do recommend that you try, "Nicky! Nicky, no! No-no!" in the grocery store before you expose him to an art museum.

But then, to be fair to Nicky, I might have moved this to the basement if it didn't have a gallery note.

1 comment:

  1. Little Nicky should perhaps be duct-taped to the wall. Do they have a velcro wall near the coat check, like Letterman used to have? My darling angel would NEVER behave like this, of course.


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