Art galleries work hard to maintain their pristine white-cube image, but in New York few of them actually are. Despite Bloomberg’s clean-up regime, we still live in a dirty city with trash-filled streets and rat-filled subways. So why hide from that?
Pierre Huyghe’s Il y a opened over the weekend at the Artist’s Institute, and it makes the gallery hospitable toward some of New York’s lowliest tenants. Inside you’ll find a hole dug for a rat, as well as pheromones from a rat clitoris applied to the walls and floor. That’s meant to attract both rats and cockroaches. Cellar spiders were released into the gallery space, too.
At Friday night’s opening I didn’t see any rats or cockroaches, just two spiders scaling the walls, minding their own business. Given such a scene, I doubt that Huyghe’s plans will turn the Artist’s Institute into Joe’s Apartment; he doesn’t seem hell-bent on destroying the white cube. Instead, he’s testing for cracks in the art world’s facade, and we need more of that.