I came across an old link this week while cleaning out old emails, a Slate write-up of an exhibit of “not art:” that is to say, damaged artwork for which the cost of repair exceeds the market value of the piece. The state of “permanent devaluation” is assigned by an insurance agency, after which many pieces so designated are archived by the Salvage Art Institute. The show (at Columbia University’s Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery) exhibited work from this archive; since it wasn’t art, visitors were permitted to touch or even pick up the broken sculptures and slashed paintings. Paradoxically, the writer found that peering inside a shattered Jeff Koons sculpture ended up exposing the craft behind the work—exposing the path by which an idea became art in the first place:
…the most powerful impression was that of the presence of the artists. Through the damage, the seams of the works were opened—the rivets in the dog balloon were now visible—and a viewer had a vision of the act of creation, which is primary to art, while market-value is not.
-John Reed in Slate, This is Not an Artwork, Nov. 23, 2012