In 2002, the Detroit Museum of New Art announced a new exhibition:
The Detroit Institute of Arts will start the next millennium with a bombshell in the form of an exhibition entitled kaBOOM! Based on the destruction of art in this century, on vandalism as a sincere form of artistic expression, viewers will be invited to destroy actual works of art. Man Ray’s Object to be Destroyed can be crushed with an over-sized hammer, you can spray paint a green dollar sign on a Malevich painting, piss in Duchamp’s Fountain, erase a Willem de Kooning drawing, stitch up a Fontana, or slash up a Barnett Newman. Flash Art (Milan): ‘kaBOOM!’, November/December.
Here’s what happened:
A museum survey examining the phenomenon of destruction in art backfired at the event’s opening when audience enthusiasm overwhelmed the exhibit. kaBOOM! began its two month run at Detroit’s Museum of New Art (MONA) last Saturday and by night’s end it was all over, literally.
“They even destroyed the pedestals and wall shelves,” one museum staffer shrugged in disbelief.
Fires were set in isolated galleries and a wrecking ball for one display had been removed from its chain and used instead as a bowling ball, taking out an installation as well as the corner of one wall.
“In a twisted way, it was a wild success,” MONA’s director Jef Bourgeau says the morning after, on a surprisingly bright note as he wades through the carnage and debris…