Waterboard Thrill Ride

above photo from Fox News.

Sorry for the posting hiatus! It’s been a long time since I’ve gone half a week without blogging… There’s just nothing much going on in New York right now, and I’m trying to get a couple of writing projects done before the fall is officially underway.

Anyway, this post is about a piece of installation art that I didn’t actually get to see, but just read about via Claudia’s latest Culturist post. Apparently, artist Steve Powers had a small exhibit, called Waterboard Thrill Ride, out on the Coney Island boardwalk, among all the amusement rides and hot dog and cotton candy stalls. Like a peep show, you put a dollar into a slot and peeked through a small window covered with bars to see a couple of hooded “interrogator” robots perform waterboard torture to a robot dressed in orange prisoner garb, in imitation of a Guantanamo Bay detainee. The interrogators pour water onto the prisoner’s head for a number of seconds while his body convulses and he yells out things like, “I think I’m dying.” On the outer wall of the exhibit is a cartoon of Sponge Bob having water poured onto his head saying, “it don’t Gitmo better.” Powers said he created the installation in part to make people aware of the controversial form of torture currently used by our military. The writer of this NYTimes article went out to Coney Island on the day the installation premiered and describes onlooker response.

Most annoying thing to me is that it only seemed to be up — by design not because of public response — for one week, from August 6-15. On the 15th, apparently Powers and a couple of lawyer friends subjected themselves to waterboard torture conducted by actual trained officers, in front of the exhibit. This is just the kind of thing I would love to have seen — both in terms of the art itself, how it makes its presentation, how it questions, how it fits within its surroundings — particularly these surroundings — and how the public reacts. It’s now moved to the Park Avenue Armory on the upper east-side, a private museum and collection of antiques that you need an appointment to visit. Seems kind of ridiculous to have a public art exhibit in a private collection, but apparently it is to be part of a larger exhibition at the Armory called Democracy in America, sponsored by the public art fund Creative Time, which will take place September 21-27. Go here for deets. Unfortunately, I likely won’t be in town that week. So, looks like I’m going to miss out. But if anyone goes, or if anyone saw it on Coney Island, please give your thoughts!

How I managed to miss the exhibit while it was here is another issue, for which I’m royally pissed at myself. I have GOT to stop relying on blogs and websites for all my info; I must return to good old fashion newspapers and magazines… And I mean hard copy. You don’t always see everything on the website; you’ve got to make sure you click on every heading, every subheading, every little box. It’s just not the same as flipping through actual, physical pages.

Comments are closed.

Comments are closed