Thomas Hirschhorn at Gladstone

Bullet Shih Oct, 2012 2
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Thomas Hirschhorn at GladstoneThe past decade has been wrought with the theme of human displacement both as the result of financial hardship such as the foreclosures during the housing bust and those caused by force majeures such as the Iraqi and Afghani wars, the floods in Thailand, and the Japanese tsunami and Fukishimi disaster. Last week I wrote about other concommitant exhibitions in Chelsea such as Mr. at Lehmann Maupin and Ahmed Alsoudani at Haunch of Venison, even referencing Hirschhorn and how they differed from his approach.  Unlike the other two artists, I argued that Hirschhorn has traditionally focused his exhibition installations on the modern corporate structures and blatant consumerism often is a somewhat banal nature.  Well, in his show Concordia, Concordia at Gladstone, Hirschhorn does an about face and represents a world literally turned on its head due to a catastrophe.  Based on the sinking of the largest Italian cruise ship ever commissioned, the Costa Concordia, which sank off the western coast of Italy in January 2012, the installation is meant to evoke the associated jetsam and disorientation of the tragedy which coast the lives of 32 passengers.  The press release states,

As many people, I saw the pictures showing the inside of the sunken cruise ship Costa Concordia after the wreck. The floor emerging upright had become a wall, the wall was turned into a ceiling and the ceiling into the opposite wall. Every non-attached thing was floating in water, like a barricade in movement. A barricade made of all that points out the impassable and cumbersome inutility. I was struck by this apocalyptic upside down vision of the banal and cheap “nice, fake, and cozy” interior of the overturned ship. This pictures the uncertainty and precariousness of the past, of the present moment, and of the future. I saw it as an amusing and disturbing but nevertheless logical and convincing form. This must be the form of our contemporary disaster. This must be the ultimate expression of the precarious, which nobody wants to confront. “Get back on board, captain!” shouted the coast guard officer to the already safely landed captain of the Costa Concordia who refused to go back to his vessel. “Get back on board!” means there is definitely no escape – we have to confront the self-produced disaster in its incredible normality – there is no way out, there is no place to flee, there is no safe land anymore! This is the starting point that made me think of and start out to conceive the work “Concordia, Concordia.”
Thomas Hirschhorn Concordia, Concordia 2012 September 14 – October 20 at Gladstone

Photos: Sujin Lee


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