Negative Art: Not At This Library December 9, 2009 – Tags: Douglas Gordon, Libraries, Public Art, Scotland, University of Edinburgh Library
Well, not so fast. Gordon had proposed to inscribe a wall of the library with gold lettering reading: “Every time you turn a page, it dies a little.” But as Andrew Patrizio, a member of the university’s advisory panel, told the London Times: “Several people felt the wording was not celebratory enough, even though the artist had not been briefed to create a ‘positive’ commission. Though one could read it negatively, it is important to stress that nobody had ever asked the artist for something celebratory.” What we have here is a failure to communicate. And so, at the last possible minute, the entire project was cancelled, leaving Gordon fuming, and more than willing to share his indignation with the press.
It remains to be seen what, if anything, will end up being the University of Edinburgh Library’s “celebratory” work of art. But here’s a piece of advice to anyone considering giving a commission to an artist: Take a good, long, hard look at the artist’s work before you hire him. That way, when you see his creation, you’ll know it’s art.