Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Art Attacks

Yesterday was news of art being attacked, today, the art is the one wreaking havoc. (But vandalism still plays a part).

Now artist Maurice Agis can join the likes of Richard Serra in the most exclusive art club in the world, the killer art club. There is nothing more serious than death in art, especially when people actually die as a result of viewing it. Via Artforum, via The Independent, we learn of a disaster in Durham County England.

Reading the descriptions it is apparent that what happened to the victims of the accident is quite brutal, as several were wounded with neck injuries, broken bones and punctured lungs.

The sculpture called Dreamspace is a multicolored bouncy castle type network of rooms where visitors pay 5 quid (ten bucks) to put on a cape and wander around listening to music in an experience described as "very womb-like and trippy. It's dreamy, a really nice vibe" (Source: The Independent)

Just a day after opening, disaster struck, the huge structure was caught by a gust of wind and blown away with people inside. It flew through the air, 70ft high, until it was stopped by colliding with the pole supporting a closed circuit surveillance camera. 13 people, many children, were injured. Sadly two women died as well.

Agis has been showing variations of the piece all over the world since 1996 and this is the first such incident. But of course: “Last month, while [Dreamspace was] in Liverpool, knife-wielding vandals slashed three of the PVC pods.” (Source: The Independent)

Workers fold up Dreamspace in an image from Agis' website
detailing how the work is de/installed.

You have to love the language news media uses:
“The end of a dream: Dreamspace turns into a nightmare
When Maurice Agis created his inflatable installation, little did he suspect that making art more accessible might have fatal consequences”

(The headline from another Independent article)

Some quotes pulled from The Independent:
    Chloe Wilson, a seven-year-old girl who witnessed the inflatable soar into the air, returned to the scene yesterday to lay flowers. She said: "There were loads of people running about and we tried to run towards it after it came down on the ground. Lots of people were trying to rip it open with their hands and little knives and I was asking if I could help," she said.

    "It was very scary and people were screaming. I saw a lady clinging on and then falling out and she was lying on the ground with people around her. I think she died. I really wanted to come here today and put some flowers down."


    After the accident, Mr Wright dashed to the scene to discover what he described as a "disaster zone" with "bodies everywhere".
People's descriptions of what happened call to mind the Hindenburg crash. The Dreamspace piece sounds like it would be pretty cool to see, and fun to walk through. It is unfortunate that such a popular, whimsical and interesting work has led to such real disaster. Perhaps one of the worst details is that the artist was there when it all happened. It is impossible to imagine what it feels like for someone in a situation like Agis.

The artist’s somewhat cheesy website is HERE

• Also on The Guardian Two women killed after inflatable artwork lifts off

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