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Over the next few weeks, Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate” — more commonly known as “The Bean” — will be cleaned, baked, turned into coffee, anthropomorphized with googly eyes, and transformed in a whole variety of ways. At least, this is according to Facebook, where an absurd series of Bean-centric public events have emerged over the last few days in a bizarre show of community affection (or something?) for the city’s most famous work of public art.
On Halloween, for instance, hundreds of people may gather in Millennium Park to mansplain to The Bean. The day after, people will bake The Bean in a giant oven. Kapoor’s sculpture will then get re-fried on November 11, then deep-fried on November 23, when participants will finally get to eat it — but not until a crowd pours spaghetti sauce all over it, and cover The Bean with canned beans, which is an event happening on November 20.
How did we end up in this rabbit hole of Bean fantasies? It all began with the launch of an event to “Windex The Bean” on November 15, to which about 2,500 users have RSVP’ed, while over 20,000 have expressed interest in attending. And why should the public windex the Bean? As the event’s organizer simply puts it, in the page’s description, “The Bean is dirty.” This must be true: according to a poll created by WGN9 in response to the event, people are pretty adamant that the bean is in need of a good streak-free shine. Anyway, this must be a serious event because its organizers are creating official “I cleaned The Bean” T-shirts that depict The Bean next to a bottle of Windex.
Perhaps inevitably, the Windex event quickly morphed into a meme, inspiring the proliferation of outlandish Facebook events often illustrated with impressive and not-so-impressive photoshopped renditions of The Bean. Someone created an event to paint The Bean black to block the Windex effort — notably, using one of Hyperallergic’s illustrations, although it’s unspecified if the painters will use Vantablack — which provoked a counter effort to pour paint thinner over the black surface to again enable a Windex job. Other ideas include liberating The Bean by dumping it into Lake Michigan, replacing The Bean with Mr. Bean, taking The Bean apart “to see how it ticks” and — one I can personally relate to as temperatures fall in Chicago — giving The Bean a blanket “Cuz It’s TOO COLD.”
Only time will tell if any of these Bean antics will actually occur. I, for one, plan to be there on November 23, when living legend Guy Fieri is allegedly scheduled to cook the bean.