When is radical art not radical? When it’s a Meta-Monumental Garage Sale at MoMA. No one, including me, wants to get on Martha Rosler’s case, because her intentions are so good. She’s a feminist who’s against war and into exposing the falsities of the gallery/museum system—nothing I wouldn’t whole-heartedly agree with. Except, instead of satisfying an “enduring taste for subversion” (see the New Yorker article), Rosler’s MoMA venture (November 17-30) was just another case of bullshit masquerading as art. “Subversion” would be if I got a cart and attempted to sell used T-shirts on the sidewalk in front of MoMA or, God forbid, in the lobby—an event that would immediately reveal just how tolerant the museum really is of purveyors of second-hand shit on their premises. The only reason Rosler gets to sell stuff at MoMA and Joe Schmo doesn’t, is because she knows how to navigate the museum system—and by doing so blatantly exposes herself as a player in the exclusive milieu she’s made a career of railing against.
There's nothing about "institutional critique" that a great work of art doesn't do better. Toward that end, Olafur Eliasson's swinging fan in MoMA's atrium said it all.
Olafur Eliasson, Ventilator, 1997: Photo by C-Monster