By providing more information than viewers might process, the show’s dense, small-font text highlights an aesthetic challenge that confronts social practice art.
On a light gray day last October, I donned a pair of oversize galoshes and life jacket, picked up a paddle, climbed into a rowboat, and set out on Newtown Creek.
The animals have gone missing from booth 844. Framed nature prints crowd the holly walls, but the auks, cougars, wolves, and woodpeckers that were once their subjects have been cut out, leaving blank spaces behind in a sort of artistic animal Rapture.
When BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in April 2010, an estimated 172 million gallons of oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico, creating the worst petroleum-industry spill in U.S. history. The stories and images of crude oil reaching the coastlines of the Gulf States were appalling — pelicans mired in grease, local fishermen devastated, ocean water slick with oil, ecological systems threatened. But that mess is fixed now, all cleaned up by BP. The oceans are clear. Swimming is safe. And we can all happily gobble down as much Louisiana gumbo as we desire. This is what BP would have you believe.