THE BIENNIAL PROJECT AWAKES TO FIND THAT WE HAVE ATTRACTED THE ATTENTION OF A MAJOR CURATOR:
Dear Mr Hess, Ms Rollins and Ms Salmeron,
I'm writing to you in connection to photographs on your Facebook page - namely Nos 18 and 19 from "Shit we liked at The Venice Biennale 54".
Corban and I would be grateful if you could remove these, as permission to stage/use these photographs was not obtained from us and the images present the artist, his work and the Pavilion in a less than favourable light. Also we find the captions rather derogatory, in particular:
- It is deeply offensive to refer to Corban as "a little person from Ireland"
- Despite your claims he is not married
- You comment about "Irish Slaves" is rather crass
Whilst we fully respect your artistic intention, we don't feel these photographs project a positive image about your work or that of a fellow practitioner.
I look forward to you response.
Irish Pavilion @ Venice Biennale
Dearest Mr. Maxwell:
First and foremost, let us say how deeply honored we are to have received this notice from you. Finally, The Art World is paying attention to us.
Secondly, we would point out that putting one's work in the rather public forum of the Venice Biennale unfortunately does open one up to the possibility of being responded to by others in a less than a "positive image".
Thirdly, upon reflection, the "little person" reference was perhaps not our very finest moment. The artists of The Biennial Project are passionately committed to complete and total human and political rights for all of society's oppressed minorities, and this of course includes the height-challenged. Our comment was made in the context of praising Mr Corbin's work, and we thought that it was clear that we were poking fun at a stereotype rather than reinforcing it.
Which brings us to Fourthly - taking offense to the "Irish Slaves" reference. Really? Have you no sense of humor whatsoever?
We're from BOSTON for Christ's sake - we get the history of the Irish.
We arethe history of the Irish, a part of that history anyway."Irish Slaves" built this town, swim deep in our personal gene pools, and have given Boston so very much of what we hold near and dear about our little seaside village.
We're the ones after all who were insulted when Jack Nicholson did his usual crazy shtick while wearing a "kiss me I'm Irish" t-shirt in The Departed.
And way back when there were politics in the world, we're the ones who went to fundraisers in Dorchester for Noraid. (When the U.S. government bombed Afghanistan on the pretext of wanting to root out support for al-Qaeda, Noam Chomsky said it that was like the English government bombing Boston to defeat the IRA.) Hey there FBI agents reading this - finally something you can nail us with!
Not to mention that The Biennial Project usually plays well in Ireland - our website gets more hits from Irish users of the internet than any other country per capita. We have always attributed that to the Irish having a more developed ability to comprehend irony than most.
Apparently there are exceptions to every rule. And because we know that manners apply even to those one believes to be misguided, we will take down the offending pics of Corbin.
More's the pity, we really do like his work.
The Biennial Project
A CURATOR FRIEND OF OURS ALSO REPLIES:
I am writing as a fan and supporter of the conceptual artist group known as “The Biennial Project.” As attendees at the opening reception for the Venice Biennial (with legitimate press credentials I might add) they took photos and published an edgy and satirical entry on the Biennial Project blog aptly titled “Shit we like…”
As luck would have it, The Biennial Project had stumbled upon the Irish Pavilion. They really enjoyed the work presented there and loved chatting with the exceptionally friendly staff. When it came time for them to write a witty and sarcastic blog entry, they couldn’t help but to express sympathy and solidarity for these lovely ladies (and all behind-the-scenes art worker bees) by referring to them as Irish slaves. Perhaps it would have been more accurate to say (as they usually do in their writing) “gallery slaves”, but they were so excited to share with the world what they had seen that they couldn’t resist hitting the send button before the editor arrived.
And yes of course, they couldn’t let well enough alone and decided to have a bit of fun with Corban Walker by referring to him as a “little person” in their post. I will admit it: they and I love his work and are extremely jealous. We may be physically taller, but he is “culturally” taller than we’ll ever be.
In light of the above, The Biennial Project artists and their fan base were quite surprised to receive a “friendly” note from the curator of the Irish Pavilion which essentially represented a “cease and desist” order r/t the blog post referred to above. Apparently, as press-pass carrying visitors to the Biennial, they are not allowed to take pictures of the Irish Pavilion and present them in a way which didn’t show the artist and his work in a pre-approved light.
But wait a minute! Aren’t we talking about Corban, the self-same artist who consistently references his bodily dimensions in sculptural work? Aren’t we talking about the fun-loving Corban who posed with Shaq in a picture which is readily available on the internet?
Yes all supporters of The Biennial Project were tickled. Yes we felt very important. Believe it or not, they don’t hear from upper-echelon international curators every day! But ultimately we were sad. If freedom of speech and expression didn’t exist, Corban would not be having his 15 minutes…and neither would anyone interesting.
Truly in Art,
WE ARE SAD:
BUT AFTER A SUITABLE MOURNING PERIOD WE GET OVER IT:
TEXT AND PHOTOS FROM THE CORBAN WALKER LIMITED EDITION ARTIST TRADING CARD THAT WE PRODUCED FOR THE 2011 VENICE BIENNALE:
Ireland Corban Walker
Born, June 23 1967 Cancer in Dublin (Baile Átha Cliath) (IE)
Lives and Works In New York
Parents were architect Robin Walker and the art critic Dorothy Walker,
Mr. Walker, 43 years old, is a minimalist sculptor and installation artist known for layering and stacking industrial materials like glass, steel and LED lights into precarious arrangements.
Mr. Walker's work plays with mathematical rules of order and scale, yet he occasionally adds a distinctive twist by making pieces that stand around his own height of 1.2 meters.
He has his own App for The Venice Biennale