The Peace Tower

At this year's Whitney Biennial, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Mark di Suvero are remounting a 1966 project called "Artists' Tower Against the War in Vietnam," which was designed by di Suvero and erected in Los Angeles. Participating artists ranged from Leon Golub and Ad Reinhart to Judy Chicago and Elaine de Kooning. The 2006 Peace Tower, on view March 2 through May 28, features 2x2-foot panels designed by 180 artists including Carl Andre, John Baldessari, Matthew Barney, Dara Birnbaum, John Bock, Chakaia Booker, E.V. Day, Tacita Dean, Sam Durant, Olafur Eliasson, Joseph Grigely, Hans Haacke, Pierre Huyghe, Sol Lewitt, Robert Mangold, Jonas Mekas, Yoko Ono, Irving Petlin (an originator of the 1966 project), James Rosenquist (one of the original contributors), Martha Rosler, Dread Scott, Kiki Smith, Yutaka Sone, Nancy Spero, Fred Tomaselli, Lawrence Weiner, and Andrea Zittel.

"The Peace Tower is a powerful statement of protest," said Biennial curators Chrissie Iles and Philippe Vergne. "By constructing it outside the museum’s entrance for all to see, Mark and Rirkrit remain true to the spirit of the original. The tower gives us a chorus of strong artists’ voices in a very public reminder that art is being made in a world that is, in the words of Antonin Artaud, 'a theatre of cruelty.'"

[Image: The 1966 Peace Tower. Via NEWSgrist, the blog of participating Tower artist Joy Garnett.]


Paul Schmelzer said...

Apologies to whoever left a long comment here this morning; I accidentally erased it. As comments are so few and far between, please repost it! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I recently attended a panel discussion by Mark di Suvero, Chrissie Iles and Philippe Vergne at the Whitney. I attended to learn about the present tower because I had only vague memories of the original 1966 “Artists' Tower”. I have many “thoughts” and fewer “feelings” about the war in Iraq and President Bush. My “thoughts”, though not important to your blog, are far more nuanced than my “feelings” on this subject. I think the times call for thoughtfulness (and debate) on everyone’s part. Not emotionalism.

I was struck by the anger of the panelists and the mediocrity of the tower. The artists and panelists often made reference to the power of Picasso’s “Guernica” as effective symbol of anti war sentiment. It was powerful because it was great art which spoke of the inhumanity, terror, and brutality of all war.

Unlike Guernica, the Tower is bad art. It looks like a chrome clothes line with 2x2 foot bad art hung up to dry. Furthermore, as I recall the original tower was in a park and became a spontaneous place of protest. This tower is in front of a museum in one of the busiest upscale shopping districts in New York. Not exactly a prime rallying spot for anti war activists. The whole thing was kind of pathetic. I think this was more about Mark di Suvero’s ego than peace.

That being said, I like your Blog.

Paul Schmelzer said...

Thanks for reposting. I agree with you to a certain extent (although I haven't seen either the original or the version at the Whitney): visually, the tower itself doesn't do much for me. Artforum has some writings by di Suvero, Tiravanija and Irving Petlin (who spearheaded the original tower) in the new issue. Sounds like the first one was pretty powerful: residents of Watts had to guard the tower from vandals day and night, artists were beaten by police and counter-protesters, and lots of headlines were generated. To hope to match that kind of energy in a remounting of the tower seems unrealistic, especially in the Whitney's plaza. While di Suvero's ego might've been there, it's worth noting that the tower was Rirkrit's idea, and he said he'd only do it if di Suvero was involved.

Anonymous said...

For anyone interested, our publication recently published an editorial piece on the new Peace Tower. The full essay can be found here. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

i personally have met di suvero and found him to be very superficial
his art has suffered lately and he now has a reputation of slapping things together
his latest show at millenium park in chicago is lame and very bad, in my and many others opinion
i have heard that he tries to keep the good artists from suceeding and touts those who are no threat to him
it is truly sad to see such a past master stoop to this level, but i was told by people that have known him for 30 years that he is not the sculptor he used to be
his large pieces have lost thier zing and he is just going through the motions now
i hear there is an unauthorized book coming out about him and the way he has treated so many young sculptors
he has a reputation of helping young artists but i was told that the really good ones are disregarded by him
truly a sad state of affairs
maybe his ego has gotten the better of him