Dream Exhibitions is a weekly series that asks artists, writers, curators, and other creative types what as-yet unrealized exhibition they’d like to see. Their response: just two to three sentences. Each week we publish three to five new submissions. Everyone’s invited, so dream a big dream, and send it our way (Corinna Kirsch, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Each week I ask for new submissions from readers, but this week I decided to step back and highlight a few dream-exhibition precedents. John Baldessari wants to exhibit a cadaver, Sol LeWitt some mini-art shows in matchboxes, and Gregor Schneider, well, he can never exhibit anything he wants.
John Baldessari, “Unrealised Proposal for Cadaver Piece”
In 1970 John Baldessari proposed to procure a “willing” male cadaver to be placed in a climate-controlled vitrine in a position akin to Andrea Mantegna’s painting “The Lamentation Over the Dead Christ” (c. 1500). , then viewed through a peephole, à la Marcel Duchamp’s “Étant donnés” (1946-1966). So far nobody has signed the paperwork to be transformed into Baldessari’s immortal artwork vampire.
At the 2011 Manchester International Festival, curators Klaus Biesenbach and Hans Ulrich Obrist were close to finding a cadaver for Baldessari’s exhibition; supposedly, they just didn’t have time to ship it before the exhibition’s opening. There’s always next time.
Sol LeWitt’s Mini-Art Shows in Matchboxes
Recently there has been much written about minimal art, but I have not discovered anyone who admits to doing this kind of thing … “Mini-art” is best because it reminds one of miniskirts and long-legged girls. It must refer to very small works of art. This is a very good idea. Perhaps “mini-art” shows could be sent around the country in matchboxes. Or maybe the mini-artist is a very small person; say less than five feet tall.
Robert Rauschenberg’s Cross-country Trek
Rauschenberg had a plan for what could’ve been an impossibly huge art exhibition. He wanted to “walk across the United States and photograph it inch by inch in actual size.” As for why he never did that, Rauschenberg told art historian and former MoMA curator Joachim Pissarro:
“Well, ten years later I decided I would be in a ditch in Asheville [North Carolina]. So I thought there must be a better way.”
Gregor Schnieder, “All Rheydt Kolkata, Kassel 2012”
Gregor Schneider’s CV is full of unrealized projects. Most of the time, censorship is cited as the primary cause for the stalled exhibitions. For dOCUMENTA 13, he wanted to put on an exhibition in a Kassel church, but it was closed down through alleged pressure from dOCUMENTA Director Bernd Leifeld who thought visitors might confuse Schneider’s large-scale installation with being part of dOCUMENTA. (We assume the laws of physics do not allow two exhibitions to exist at the same time; the universe simply does not know how to deal.)
At the 2005 Venice Biennale, Schneider wanted to erect a giant black cube resembling by the Ka’ba, the holiest site in Islam. They said no. He go to show it in Berlin, but only for a moment; it was soon banned.
Mierle Laderman Ukeles’s Fresh Kills Project
Since 1989, Mierle Laderman Ukeles has been the City of New York’s official “Artist of the Fresh Kills Landfill.” Her project, which she hesitates to go into detail about, has been stalled due to a variety of concerns (like an international design competition for the now-closed landfill site).
With over 20 years of fits and starts, Ukeles hasn’t given up. In 2013 she spoke to Gallerist NY’s Michael Miller about the project. “I got this commission in 1989, and I still haven’t built the goddamn thing,” she told him. “What do I have to do to keep going? I have to not go crazy.”
Louise Bourgeois, “The World is a Theater and We Each have a Role,” 1978
Bourgeois, the late sculptor of, amongst other things, scary insects, wanted to build an outdoor amphitheatre shaped like an “upside down dome,” painted blue-and-white to resemble the sky. She claimed that it was “complicated and too expensive, but never discarded.”