Brutal Art With The Desired Impact
After being stowed away in the storage somewhere in Japan for nearly 40 years, Ed Kienholz’s Five Car Stud (1969-72) this dark installation of a vicious racist attack has now seen light of day. This fabulous work of art was acquired by the Fondazione Prada and was assigned for restoration to Nancy Reddin Keinholz who is not only the artist’s collaborator, but also was his collaborator. It is now open to public viewing at Fondazione Prada right after the restoration was conducted.
This installation is seen as a terrifying depiction of the paradoxes and ironies in the society which advocates equality and freedom while rejecting the whole concept altogether at the same time. Through this dark and jolting piece of art, the artist Kienholz makes a successful attempt at challenging the inevitabilities and controlled state of mind of the spectators who are experiencing the artwork. He definitively makes an effort to disrupt the emotional comfort of the audience and presents them with an opportunity to engage in a social yet noble reflection with respect to racial violence.
This controversial work of art was first shown in 1972 at Documenta 5 in Kassel. It was then restored in the year 2011 and as a part of a citywide art program Pacific Standard Time, it was showcased for the first time in US at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This work of art maybe an old one but even in this recent showing, it has made a strong impact on the viewers. Some, who were not expecting such a strong imagery are known to have felt a physical nausea and almost threw up. It is this revulsion among the viewers that was essentially the best possible homage to such an impactful work of art.
Even as she worked on restoring this impressive piece of work, Reddin Kienholz is known to have accepted it as a really difficult piece and found it really depressing to work on. This is one the rare works of Kienholz where the visitors are allowed to walk through and around the installation, so that they graduate from the role of a mere observer to an active participant. The piece of art tends to confront that walk through it and is known to cause a discomfort in each one of its viewers. Reddin Kienholz is known to have called it scary even though she may be used to it now.
Twenty five different works of repute that were created between 1959 and 1994 are being brought together as an exhibition at Fondazione Prada where the Five Car Stud is the centerpiece. Some other such powerful pieces that would be a part of this show are The Caddy Court (1986-87) which depicts a morbid vision of the US judiciary where a visitor walks through a police car to see a bench populated by judges with stuffed animal heads, and Jody, Jody, Jody (1994), a glaring depiction of child abuse and neglect which took inspiration from a real life incident where a girl was found abandoned by her father on a highway in California.
Celant, who is organizing this show recently said in a press release. “Kienholz does not tend to sublimate the lowness and tragedy of life, the conditions of solitude and triviality, but rather uses them as tools that can highlight the low, popular universe, a place where the emaciated and filthy, the perverse and lurid, represent a new, surprising beauty.“