Hans Haackeâ€™s Gift Horse (2014) in London.
COURTESY CITY OF LONDON
On Thursday, October 24, the New Museum in New York will open a hotly anticipated retrospective for artist Hans Haacke, who has devoted his career to piquant critiques of how the art worldâ€”and the world at largeâ€”operates. I canâ€™t wait. Until then, I am getting by with the showâ€™s catalogue, which includes a wide-ranging interview with Haacke by the showâ€™s curators, Massimiliano Gioni and Gary Carrion-Murayari. Unsurprisingly, the artist pulls no punches.
At one point, Carrion-Murayari asks about the moment in 2014 when U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson (mayor of London at the time) unveiled Haackeâ€™sÂ Gift HorseÂ as a Fourth Plinth commission for Trafalgar Square. About that work, a skeleton of a horse with a bow on its front leg that displays a digital readout of stock market prices, Johnson offeredÂ the following remarks: â€œThere will be those who say that this undeniably underfed beast â€¦ is a symbol of the excessive pursuit of austerity. â€¦ But I say absolutely not.â€ Instead, he proposed that, in the animalâ€™s bones, â€œyou will see symbolized the vital infrastructureâ€”the tube that must run beneath the surface of any great and beautiful city. The tubular structures that have received such fantastic investment thanks to our chancellor.â€
Haacke recalls the scene in the catalogue: â€œPeople were rolling their eyes. I was standing behind him when he was spouting these lines and took a close-up photograph of his hair. The Brexiteerâ€™s hair matches that of Donald Trump.â€
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