Vandal Thought a Seattle Sound Installation by Robb Kunz Was a Submarine

Seattle's Duwamish River. Photo: Instagram/@lechatbon.
Photo: Instagram/@portofseattle

Photo: Instagram/@portofseattle.

A Seattle sound installation painstakingly erected as part of an art project named “Duwamish Revealed” has been vandalized to the point that it no longer functions, according to Jen Graves at the Stranger.

Created by kinetic sound artist Robb Kunz and composed by Joshua Kohl, Under Pier Pressure is an eight channel composition that emanates from beneath a pier on the Duwamish River, recalling maritime themes so uncannily that one passerby called the police to investigate whether there was a submarine in the waters below.

Kunz was unavailable for immediate comment when contacted by artnet News, and the nature of the vandalism remains unknown.

The act of vandalism is the latest in a series of snags the artist has experienced since installing the piece earlier this year. While on a canoe in the river, attempting to install the eight speakers and 350 feet of cables necessary to make the work function properly, a bystander allegedly reported Kunz to the police for suspicious behavior.

“It was a major pain in the ass to install and took 5 different attempts by various small watercraft at optimal tidal conditions,” Kunz writes in the accompanying text for a video of the installation. “No thank you to the jerk who called out a dozen cops on us.”

Seattle's Duwamish River.  Photo: Instagram/@lechatbon.

Seattle’s Duwamish River.
Photo: Instagram/@lechatbon.

Eerily, Kunz seems to have predicted the vandalism prior to the act, writing on his website: “Days left in Duwamish Revealed program for you to enjoy the work – 93. Odds I give it will survive the elements and acts of vandalism – 50/50 (ha ha).”

He was obviously right to be suspicious, and he’s certainly not the first artist to see his work harmed or destroyed at the hands of a vandal this summer.

Two outdoor artworks were destroyed at Documenta in July, and Anish Kapoor’s massive Versailles sculpture was defaced with spray paint in June.

Last October, a Paul McCarthy sculpture in Paris that was said to resemble a butt plug was deflated and the artist was attacked by an unknown assailant near the Place Vendôme. And last summer, the Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney was famously vandalized.

These are, of course, just a few examples of a disturbing trend of destruction that appears to be on the rise, particularly with regard to art that openly addresses controversial subject matter. Under Pier Pressure doesn’t appear to fall into this category, making the thoughtless actions of its vandals even more confusing. However, never underestimate the power of sound. When “Prostitution” show ran at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1976, “it generated media hysteria and moral panic,” Jörg Heiser writes in a 2006 interview with Genesis BREYER P-ORRIDGE in Frieze.


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