Friday, May 1, 2009


I’m in Chicago, watching the sun rise over Lake Michigan, from the guest room in my friend Barbara’s apartment. It’s been a great trip, except yesterday my ex-husband had a nasty fall that landed him in the Evanston Hospital emergency room, and his wife told me that treatment was delayed (total time in hospital: 12 hours, with 45 minute to one hour waits between procedures) because the place was overrun with people worried that they had swine flu. I know the tendency to hysteria over possible disaster isn’t new to the human race, but we seem to have a collective memory that doesn’t go back even as far as three years ago, when the avian flu was going to kill us all. I remember that well because I have a friend in Paris whose girl friend is an epidemiologist, and in every other email he was urging me to stock up on quantities of Tamiflu. I preferred to keep my immune system up with a steady consumption of chocolate bars and red wine, which worked just fine. I also read Dr. Mercola, whose assessment turned out to be correct. Here’s what he has to say about swine flu.

Wednesday evening I went to the opening of the newest version of Olafur Eliasson’s survey exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art. At one point a museum video crew, collecting short interviews to use in fund-raising, approached and asked me to talk about my connection to the museum. At first I didn’t think I had anything to say, but then realized that my intense interest in Eliasson’s work began with the MCA and the Robert Irwin exhibition in 1976 that changed forever how I think about art. Irwin was Eliasson’s biggest influence as well, although I think it’s unlikely that he ever saw an actual work until fairly recently. This version of the traveling Eliasson survey show (next stop: Dallas) is the best exhibition of the many I’ve seen (I didn’t see the survey in San Francisco, however, and the curator there, Madeleine Grynstein, is now the director at the MCA). At the MCA the work has room to breathe, and I think Eliasson is at his best in vast enclosed spaces—the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern (below) being an example. I’m going back today to take pictures, which I’ll share.

Olafur Eliasson, weather project, Tate Modern, 2004.

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