Saturday, July 15, 2006

Deborah Butterfield horse suffers acute attack of agoraphobia at MMOCA

As predicted in an earlier post, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's 1983 Deborah Butterfield horse suffered an acute attack of agoraphobia over the weekend. Agoraphobia is a Greek word that literally means "fear of the marketplace." The attack was brought on by a marketplace overdose, with Maxwell Street Days -- especially Fontana's bargain racks and the crowds they drew -- surging right up to the glass wall of MMOCA.

The sculpture is expected to recover fully once the shopping frenzy abates.

1 comment:

Nadine said...

"It seems very pretty," she said when she had finished it, but it's rather hard to understand!" (You see she didn't like to confess, even to herself, that she couldn't make it out at all.) "Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas--only I don't know exactly what they are!"

Here's a view from the other side of the [Looking] glass:

Friday evening (7/14), as I was walking down State Street to attend the Ivory Consort's concert at Mills Hall, I paused to watch several women who had stopped to take photos of the Deborah Butterfield horse. It occured to me that I should snap a photo of them to add to my still small, but growing, collection of photographs of people taking photos. But before I could remove the lens cover from my camera, the women were already stalking their next quarry: one of the painted fiberglass cows occupying sidewalk space in front of the Overture Center.

The horse's placement does not protect it from the marketplace, it thrusts it into the marketplace. Walk by, snap a photo. Been there, done that. Now let's check out the cows, or the gift shop, or the restaurant on the roof. It seems to me that by placing the Butterfield horse in that wedge of glass, MMOCA is making a statement that the horse, like art, is there to be consumed, not contemplated. After all, it's all about shopping, isn't it?