Contemporary artist Gregory Green had an amazing 2011 and we thought we would share a great article featured in the Huffington Post with you.
He is perhaps best known for displaying bombs in galleries since 1992. The FBI has a file on hand for each of his bombs, so that agents do not confuse his artist’s models, lacking in dynamite or plutonium, with the real thing. Several times galleries have had to contend with the law, his devices frazzling the contours of power. This put Green in the odd position of becoming a spokesperson for terrorism, to the extent that when asked if the World Trade Center might become a serious target, Green could not deny it’s symbolic value and likely fall. After 9/11 this made the artist untouchable. Recently, however, Gregory Green has noticed a thaw – exhibition spaces are becoming a little bolder and don’t fear losing their funding base because of it.
Through the Night Softly was made before Occupy Wall Street began and as a commemoration of 9/11 by the artist who had predicted it. It consists of 2,552 metal tire spikes, each one crafted by the artist in honor of the lives lost on that day. Tire spikes, known variously as horse cripplers, road stars, or caltrops, are the device of a military strategy known to be in use at least since the 4th century BC, in order to protect the perimeter of a defined space. For the artist tire spikes represent not only the lives lost on 9/11 but the transitional authorities that have become increasingly present in sites of conflict, be they the United Nations, the United States, or local military police.
Scattered across the floor of the gallery the sharply beveled edges of Green’s tire spikes in Through the Night Softly glint in the halogen light from the gallery ceiling tracks, as though caught in a spotlight at night. They evoke the more abstract scatter pieces of Robert Morris or Carl Andre, but in this glinting of light are closer to Robert Smithson’s Map of Atlantis and the work from which Gregory Green has borrowed the title, Chris Burden’s video performance, Through the Night Softly. Where Chris Burden’s own body cuts through the screen of the television monitor, Gregory Green’s tire spikes pierce into the actual space of the gallery. It is the kind of move that has parody swinging over into allegory’s broader and more scattered, range of effects.
Chris Burden – Through The Night Softly (1973)
Shown on television after the 10:00 news, Burden’s piece was made at the height of the Vietnam War.
First published by Catherine Spaeth at Huffpost Arts & Culture, December 2011, on the occasion of Greens exhibition at Anna Kustera Gallery, New York City, together with Andrew Cornell Robinson
Catherine Spaeth is an art historian and critic currently lecturing at Purchase College and the Pratt Institute.