Flavin Fans Incensed Over Unauthorized Appropriation

Dan Flavin, Puerto Rican Light (to Jeanie Blake) (1965) Via: artnet Price Database

Controversy has erupted over the Dia Art Foundation’s plans to allow artist duo Allora and Calzadilla to use a work by celebrated minimalist Dan Flavin for an installation without the Flavin estate’s consent, reports the New York Times.

The artists, who represented the US at the Venice Biennale in 2011, intend to install Flavin’s Puerto Rican Light (to Jeanie Blake) (1965) in a cave in Puerto Rico. The installation, Puerto Rican Light (Cueva Vientos), would see Flavin’s piece powered by solar panels located outside the limestone cave’s mouth.

Dia plans to open the installation to the public on September 21 of next year. However, the paper cites unnamed Flavin “partisans,” saying that they have opposed Allora and Calzadilla’s use of the work without the permission of the artist’s estate. They claim that Flavin would not have approved of the use of his work in the artist duo’s new piece.

Responding to criticism of the planned installation, Dia curator Yasmil Raymond told the Times: “My role at Dia is to bring validity to both the present and the past. There are people who will undoubtedly see this as a provocation from the perspective of post-colonialism. But I think others will see it as a homage to Flavin and to his evocation of this island.”

On behalf of the duo, Calzadilla told the paper: “The work’s methodology of inversion, dependency, power, and distancing will certainly reverberate with the history of uneven exchanges between the United States and Puerto Rico.”

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