Hans Haacke, Wide White Flow, 1967
Looking at Hans Haache’s Floating Sphere yesterday made me think about another work of Haacke’s that surprised me when I came across it at Paula Cooper Gallery in New York a few years ago (February 2008, fact fans). I’d gone to the show because I was in New York with students and at least one Chelsea gallery day is kind of compulsory and because I really like Hans Haacke’s work but haven’t seen nearly as much of it as I’d like in real life; as on any visit to New York, there wasn’t time to see everything I wanted to, but this was always going to be high enough on my list to make the cut. My previous knowledge of Haacke’s work was in the main of more politically driven works and of a drier, more conceptual approach.
I fully expected to be interested and absorbed. Being bowled over by the beauty of the work came as a complete surprise.
Damien Hirst, The Battle Between Good and Evil, 2007
Without wishing to seem obsessed with either Damien Hirst, the titling of work or the programme at White Cube’s Bermondsey space, having written about Hirst’s paintings (terrible) and Nauman’s films (great) the completist in me thinks it worth writing about Hirst’s installation in 9 x 9 x 9, the final gallery space in the Bermondsey building.
The work takes the form of two beach balls – one black, one white – floating above a black and white square basis, held aloft presumably by a fan within the base. This is a playful work but my enjoyment of it was offset by wondering firstly how it would look in colours that said beach ball more assertively and secondly by wondering how it would look all in white. As it happens, on both counts, Google is my friend here.
Hans Haacke, from the series A Breed Apart, 1978
Although this work has been in the back of my mind for a while, it isn’t the Hans Haacke piece I expected to write about first but somehow it seems like an appropriate way to follow on from Krzysztof Wodiczko‘s projection onto South Africa House and earlier posts about art, text and advertising.
Hans Haacke’s work most often critiques the power relationships within the art world – specifically the symbiotic relationship between museums and their corporate sponsors – but wider issues around institutional systems and corporate responsibility are also regularly subject to his critical gaze. Haacke’s commitment to exposing corruption and other dubious corporate practices is absolute and as a result his work is uncompromising even though he operates from within the art world he seeks to demystify.