June 18, 2010
I don't know whether to cal this independent investigative journalism or pure self indulgence, but I have noticed an interesting discrepancy in the reporting of a local story, and as I possess additional relevant evidence (which the local authorities probably wouldn't appreciate), I don't know what to do with it other than to put it here.
Last week, a local Ann Arbor newspaper ran a story headlined "Stolen artwork found in Huron River" which claims that stolen art ended up weighted down in the Huron River in Ann Arbor:
Authorities from multiple police jurisdictions are investigating how art sculptures ended up weighted down in the Huron River in Ann Arbor last week.My immediate reaction was that this was not theft at all, but vandalism. The art has been controversial. A number of locals are nature lovers, and think the art (wire mesh sculpture in shapes like light bulbs) is tacky, and it would be quite easy for someone to either wade into the river there or hook the piece up to a boat and drag them to deeper water.
By way of background, the installation artist is from Finland, and was brought to Ann Arbor by the University of Michigan, which appointed him a Visiting Artist in Residence at the School of Art & Design. (Those who are really interested in such things can read his "Artist's Statement.")
While it is not the purpose of this post to engage in art criticism, I do think that a good argument can be made that installation art in a popular scenic river site in a town like Ann Arbor might not be a wise move, for a variety of reasons. As things are now, it's probably costing the taxpayers a bundle. (Unless the University is paying for the County Dive Team to perform underwater salvage operations on Sundays. But even then, isn't the University using taxpayers' money.)
What is not at all clear (and hence this post) is what happened. The story seems to have been changed, and unless my suspicions are wrong, there is -- as of right now -- a concerted effort to spin this as an act of God as opposed to an act of vandalism. From an article headlined "Huron River sculptures partial casualties of recent thunderstorms":
Visitors to Gallup Park hoping to see "Valence," the sculpture placed in the Huron River by University of Michigan visiting artist William Dennisuk, will walk away disappointed over the next few days.The article has this picture of the Valance sculpture, captioned "The Valence sculpture, in better days."
Not only have they had to send in a dive team to retrieve it, they're going to have to reinstall it. Pity, because the Resident Artist is already back in Finland!
Pulse is still in the Huron, turned on its side. But Valence has been pulled from the river for the time being. It will be reinstalled shortly, just as the piece in the Arb will be stood upright, Hamilton said. The staffer who will do that job is out of town, but will be back soon.OK, now it just so happens that I have this picture, which was taken on Sunday, June 6, 2010, at 12:45 p.m.
And here's a closeup of the sign:
The fact is, both the sculpture and the sign were intact at 12:45 p.m. and the above photographs prove it conclusively. (The camera's date and time settings are correct and the original SD memory stick is intact. I would not entrust it to the Ann Arbor police, though.....)
The point is that the storm had long passed when the pictures were taken, so I don't understand the claim that the sculptures were moved underwater by an earlier storm. I was here the whole weekend, and yes, the storm was so severe that I blogged about it at 11:10 a.m. While I expected more rain, it didn't materialize, and in fact, when I went to the Nichols Arboretum later that afternoon, I was told that because they didn't expect more rain, they were planning an outdoor performance of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream later Sunday evening. Because I thought it might rain, this struck me as possibly wishful thinking, but the producers turned out to be right. It did not rain that evening.
So, the bottom line is that the "Valence" sculpture in the above photograph was not moved during the previous night's storm.
Unless the river bed had been eroded in the earlier storm and somehow caused the sculpture to move much later, it is safe to say that what happened was not an act of
Something does not make sense.
MORE: To get an idea of how local Ann Arborites feel about placing sculptures in their river, read the comments here.
MORE: A more recent photo of the sculpture is dated June 16 and described here as
Valence River Sculture. Tangled amongst the flotsam, down from its moored site, lies the sculpture in the Huron.
Which is odd, because the dive team was supposed to have saved it.
posted by Eric on 06.18.10 at 11:44 AM
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