Todd Pavlisko: Crown
An unusual museum installation is sparking a firestorm in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Art Museum
Through June 15
An unusual museum installation is sparking a firestorm in Cincinnati, said Janelle Gelfand in The Cincinnati Enquirer. More than a year ago, conceptual artist Todd Pavlisko enlisted a Navy sharpshooter to set up inside the city’s oldest art museum and fire 19 times at a 36-inch brass cube set at the far side of a central gallery. The cube now sits in the museum’s Great Hall near eight video monitors that replay in slow motion the bullets’ flight past 18 of the institution’s most valuable art holdings. Not surprisingly, the work “is proving to be generally unpopular,” said Kate Haveles in ArtLog.com. Critics are complaining that Pavlisko’s Crown glorifies gun violence and that the vibrations from the shooter’s rifle may have damaged the surrounding art in ways that will only be visible years from now. “Offensive and lacking true artistic technique, or innovative and thought-provoking?” The jury’s still out.
Those who seek to interpret Crown as a commentary about guns miss the point, said Maria Seda-Reeder in Cincinnati CityBeat. Pavlisko, a 39-year-old Ohio native, was using the rifle as an image-making tool, and the high-speed “drawing” he created focuses attention on the museum’s ability to collapse centuries of art history into a single space. The work “asks us to take a voyage back to the past” before we regard the “crown,” or entry mark, that each bullet made in the brass cube, said Leah Zipperstein in ISpyCincy.com. Crown is thus all about the “plasticity of time,” how it is “simultaneously infinite and finite, elusive and identifiable.” Whatever one may make of the cube itself, “the power of great art is the power to provoke thought and bind mediums,” and Pavlisko has easily met that standard.