Diller Scofidio + Renfro‘s ‘Bubble’ project (featured here) has recently come under fire by critics for its “ballooning” cost. Meant to be a seasonally inflated, temporary structure at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC., the Bubble’s original price-tag ($5 million) has now inflated to $15.5 million. The federally-funded price tag would be less relevant if the project were universally accepted, but many feel that the “Bubble” represents a misguided attempt to get into the spectacle game.
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Critics also argue that the Bubble would further limit the space devoted to contemporary art in Washington. The interior of the cylindrical donut would be a no-man’s land for the purposes of showing art, for the most part, and it could preclude the use of the museum patio, which was has been used so effectively to display the stellar series of Zodiac heads by Ai Weiwei. An artist could potentially devise a use for the Bubble, but that appears to be neither a plan nor a promise associated with the pavilion—and it is hard to conceive such a project that couldn’t happen on the patio as is. In the end, while the neat-o factor for the Bubble is substantial, critics argue that it is neither cost nor mission efficient.
Of course, the Hirshhorn needn’t shy away from spectacle-size artistic endeavors entirely. The enthusiastic success of Doug Aitken’s “SONG1,” a video installation projected onto the concrete exterior of the cylindrical museum last spring and summer, speaks to that. But it doesn’t sound like art has anything to do with the Bubble—except insofar as it’s in keeping with recent art-world trends. That bubble in the contemporary-art world is one that’s bound to burst—and one that the Hirshhorn would do best to avoid.
Courtesy of The New Republic