Jumat, 12 Agustus 2005

How difficult is beauty?

This wheelchair is made of cardboard. It was made by Chris Gilmore. When I first saw it, I thought it was brilliant, extremely powerful. The object of fragility, but which at the same time to many people signifies strength, and ability, here is useless, and (therefore?) meaningful. It is a simulacrum, an image of itself, a fake that is the thing itself - as a disabled person may seem (often to himself) the other version of himself. The perfection of the work makes it all the deeper, all the more painful.
The work is part of the exhibition Beauty So Difficult at the Fondazione Stelline in Milan. A review of the show is called Beauty Not So Difficult. In it, critic Rebecca Robecchi explains the "easy" enchantment of art. She also explains that Chris Gilmore makes things out of cardboard. Many things. Cars, type-writers, scooters (, cows).
And that's when I start to have a problem. I feel cheated, betrayed. The cardboard works for the wheelchair, but why the hell a scooter? If the idea is that the entire world can be made of cardboard, I get it, and it doesn't appeal to me any more than any other model maniac. Yes, it's pretty, and I appreciate the skill, but, well, I think, is this all you've got? Is beauty that easy? You need the skill to make a cow out of cardboard, and then it all works fine? It's pretty? And it's art, as in, valuable art, as in, I am to value it? This seems strangely close to juggling. You can juggle any object you want, but isn't it still juggling?
And damn it, I still like the wheelchair.

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