19th – Post-Sandy, What always survives?

Matthew Marks – Tearing out the bottom level of flood-damaged drywall.
All photos courtesy Michael Neff

My best wishes for a quick recovery go out to those who have lost and continue to lose their businesses and homes.  After Sandy there are inconveniences, and then there are losses.  HyperallergicArtInfo, the NY Times have all done their part to tell the tale of Chelsea and in some cases, Brooklyn spaces that have been damaged and destroyed.

My hope is that those who were just working back towards solvency after the Great Recession will be able to continue on.  Still, I am more concerned for the artists whose work was destroyed.  Wet drywall can always be ripped out and replaced.  I had hoped to see Eliasson at Bonakdar and Kate Levant at Feuer, but that won’t happen, at least not in the same way.

Zach Feuer Gallery
All photos courtesy Michael Neff

Still, we march on.  Art fairs, openings, museum shows are pumped out, dried off and prepared for public viewing.  All of this got me thinking about what will always survive.  Pompeii was waiting to be dug up, only now to be returned to ruin again.  What DNA will they extract from the amber encased mosquitos of our art world to create the Jurassic Park of the Future MoMA?  Rather, what could be left behind after fire and flood, wind and rain, earthquake and all the gods unspeakable wrath rains unholy crap on us.  Can Mel Bochner, Lawrence Weiner and Sol LeWitt’s plans for wall drawings and text be stored, saved and reproduced when all the walls fall down?  Should we repaint Henri Matisse‘s La Danse at The Barnes Foundation where it was before it left it’s home?  The Simon Cowell of art criticism, Jerry Saltz, has commissioned the creation of Richter and Ryman look-alikes for his home (or has made the request, I have no proof of their existence).  And why not?  Eric Doeringer makes and Raymond Pettibone has made their miniature masterworks.  It’s art about art, but can it just be art renewed?  Forgeries without the plagiarism, aesthetic value without a copyright?  Can we remake, spoof, and find deep meaning in a reproduction that specifically exists because the original ceases to?

Andrea Zittel Fluid Panel State at Andrea Rosen Gallery
All Photos courtesy Michael Neff

Sadly, I am better at asking questions than answering them.  People will always see the angles and play them and we will get bad copies in fine art galleries and good copies in framing shops.  I hope we never need one, but our art memory may need one of those caves where all the important people can live and breed and keep civilization moving forward.  What do we save and how?  When the world ends up, not so ironically, as the “Cat’s Cradle” and “Dr. Strangelove” version of itself lets hope someone grabs something other than a Jeff Koons shiny object for long term preservation.
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Note: While finishing this post, I clicked over to Tyler Green’s Modern Art Notes and read Destroy this memory; archive the art digitally.  He is asking some of the same questions as they relate to Robyn O’Neil.  It’s worth the read.

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