WTF Wednesday: Felix Gonzalez-Torres at the MoMA

Posted on
Mar 28, 2012

You are never gonna believe what this is.

Rand and I walked through the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, holding hands. It was early winter, and he was neglecting his work in order to enjoy the art.

This happens approximately never, so I was making good use of the time by squeezing his hand really tightly.

“Ouch.”

Love hurts, babe. Get used to it.

We strolled through the galleries, and in one room, encountered a field of silver candies. I stared, taking it in. I love works that fill up in an entire room. It reminded me a little bit of the Ai Wei Wei installation I saw at the Tate a while back. When I first saw that piece in London, I had an overwhelming temptation to jump in (which would have been awesome, but not worth the lifetime ban).

I felt that temptation again in New York. How much fun would it be to pluck one of the silver candies from the pile, unwrap it, and start noshing?

And then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone doing just that.

I stood, mouth agape, wondering if my eyes had deceived me. And then it happened again. And again. People kept walking up and grabbing candies. I looked at the security guard near by. I expected him to go full-River-Tam on the people touching the art, but he did not. Instead, he merely smiled, and seemed to nod.

He was encouraging them to EAT the installation. WTF, MoMA? Had the world gone mad?

I grabbed Rand’s arm. Perhaps a bit too tightly.

“Ouch.”

“What the HELL is going on?” I hissed. “People are eating the exhibits.”

“Yeah,” he said, gesturing to a sign on the wall. “They’re supposed to.”

The field of candies installation was by Felix Gonzalez-Torres. The piece, Untitled”  (Placebo), was created by Gonzalez-Torres after his long-time partner died from complications due to AIDS. Many of his works are similarly interactive – he often uses everyday objects (frequently candies) that are removed by some means. Over the course of an installation, the piece will slowly become smaller and smaller and eventually disappears.

Viewers can literally take a piece of the art with them. In the process of enjoying the work – of savoring and ingesting it, of making it a part of themselves – they destroy it. It’s a profound statement to the ephemeral nature of art. It is a powerful commentary on the relationship between a viewer and a piece of work.

But more importantly IT IS AN ENTIRE FIELD OF CANDIES THAT YOU CAN EAT. Which obviously makes it the best exhibit I’ve seen, ever.

Sweets and my sweet.

There was only one problem, really. The candies weren’t terribly good. They were all pineapple flavored. Every last one of them. It’s like giving a child a bag full of black jelly beans (which I happen to like, but we’ve established that I’m bonkers). You almost got it right, but not quite.

An entire field of candies that I was allowed to eat, but had no desire to. It was actually painful to think about.

“Ouch,” I may have mumbled under my breath.

“What was that?” Rand asked.

“Oh, nothing,” I replied. And I took his hand again, and we continued on our way.

—————

Note: “Untitled” (Placebo) is currently on display at the MoMA but I’m not sure for how much longer it will last (in every sense).

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