“Centuries before the first speakers and subwoofers,” writes Ker Than, “ancient Americans—intentionally or not—may have been turning buildings into giant sound amplifiers and distorters to enthrall or disorient audiences, archaeologists say.”
While the jab ‘intentionally or not’ gives me pause (did they accidentally build an underground rave cave with exceptional acoustics?), the thought of ancient Mayas carving out subwoofers in 600 A.D. is very 2012, very tribal guarachero. The temple ruins at Palenque in central Mexico suggests “a kind of ‘unplugged’ public-address system, projecting sound across great distances” — perfect for a post-oil dance party.
Speakers’ Corner follows a series of works in which Echakhch has examined the traditions of liberty and protest espoused in Western democracies. In La Marseillaise 2005, she fed a perforated cardboard barrel organ score of the French national anthem, with its fervent revolutionary associations, into a portable document shredder. In Untitled (11 March 2005) 2005, she filmed the cleaning crew that followed closely in the wake of a street demonstration in Paris. Fliers and other detritus left by the protestors are swept away with military efficiency so that – within a few minutes – any trace of the demonstration has been erased. Echakhch has described the work as reflecting on the ‘poor heritage’ of the French Revolution and the events of 1968 in a city where ‘there are five demonstrations a week’.
Given your censoring of David Wojnarowicz’s video of ants crawling on a plastic crucifix with a wooden human figure meant to represent Jesus Christ, a literary character penned by numerous authors over several hundred years and now worshiped as God, and your threatening the Smithsonian’s funding if it did not comply with your wishes, I would like you to know about a similar threat to decency.
Right now, during the season when many children are passing through the Metropolitan Museum of Art on their way to see the Christmas tree, there are on view numerous Greek vases that depict men with erections, many of them cavorting with one another; paintings of children standing on their mothers’ laps and urinating; multiple depictions of mothers breast-feeding infants; scores of Oceanic wooden sculptures that depict male figures with enormous multiple penises; Rene Magritte’s painting showing only pudenda covered in a damp mat of dark pubic hair; Francis Boucher’s naked woman alone in bed rubbing her vulva on the bedsheets, and another holding a dog between her legs; Picasso’s woman with her anus directly at the center of the portrait; Papua New Guinean sculptures showing full-on vaginal penetration; multiple sculptures of figures in flagrant coitus in the Indian wing; Balthus’s young girl posed so that you can see her underpants, stained with red; Roman images of bestiality; a Greek vase made in the shape of a fully erect male member complete with curly pubic hair; a headdress effigy of a female with legs spread and vulva visible; Lorenzo Lotto’s painting of an ecstatic woman caressing her own breasts, squeezing flower petals between her legs, and being urinated on by a small child. I think that any public funding to the Met should be curtailed until all of these items have been looked into and removed.