[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]Motionless Calders

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[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]Motionless Calders

Last week my wife viewed the Alexander Calder exhibition currently running at Seoul’s Kukje Gallery, and came home raving about how delightful it was to see his imaginative works turning and casting continuously changing shadows.
She promptly wrote a note to the parents of her 400 elementary school art students, strongly recommending that they visit the exhibit. (She teaches her students about Calder in the second, third and fifth grades.) I planned to send out my own e-mail to publicize the exhibition.
Today she took a Korean friend and me to see the Calder show. Imagine our shock (and disgust) when the young woman attendant in the first room admonished us not to blow on the mobiles. Several frustrating conversations with various gallery staffers elicited the explanation that there had been an “accident” the previous day which nearly damaged one of the works, and the gallery staff “had no choice” but to forbid blowing on the mobiles. My wife’s immediate analogy was banning automobiles after a traffic accident. A young Korean woman, who was even more irate than I, mocked the name Kukje(“international” in Korean), calling the gallery’s reaction “far from international.”
The exhibit includes an excellent film on Calder which opens with the scene of a woman blowing on a Calder mobile, and later shows the artist himself doing the same. Consider the word “mobile.” The whole point of Calder’s work is for things to move. The gallery even named the exhibition “Poetry in Motion.”
Not anymore.

by Ken Kaliher
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