When art conservation first entered the jurisdiction of insurance companies, "totaled" works were routinely destroyed. Adjusters haven't grown less depraved of heart, but at least today they consign wrecked art to storage facilities, usually for 30 years, until a condition known as "acceptable degradation" is reached and the artwork becomes marketable as before. About two dozen such (currently) zero-value works have recently been on view at the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society Gallery during "No Longer Art," the provocatively titled exhibition of New York artist Elka Krajewska's fictional-sounding Salvage Art Institute (the show closes June 26). Donated by AXA Insurance, the ripped, torn, slashed, smeared, and moldy prints, paintings, and sculptures sat individually on white rolling carts, arranged in a sunburst ringed by trays of redacted insurance documents. Since, for Krajewska, the recovered pieces are "more like work in studio," unfinished and "not precious," visitors were invited to handle them (unmonitored!) and dared to ruin them for everyone else. Unlike the climate-controlled safety that fills most museums, the exhibit exuded a vertiginous danger, especially near its most familiar piece, a Jeff Koons red balloon dog, cracked of skull. The official cause for its demise read like a religious portent: shattered in fall.
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