Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Butt-Fugly Public Art of the Week-- November 8th

Wave Forms by Dennis Oppenheim

Corner of 34th and Chestnut Streets

Ah jeez.
                    What the fuck!?!??! This garbage is some of the newest public art in Philadelphia and it looks like a dead dogs' dick. Its called Wave Forms but most people know it as Those Stupid Fucking Bells. That gas meter box thingy in the corner of the picture is better looking art than this shit.
                   First of all, Philly already is inundated with enough bell-related crap. Everywhere you go in the city has Liberty Bell-related imagery all over the place. You'd think that this artist, who's other work is actually pretty good, would have seen enough already. Oh wait, the artist for this, Dennis Oppenheim, doesn't know shit about Philadelphia. He's from California!! Why the fuck is so much of the public art in this city done by artists that aren't located here? This city has artists coming out of it's ears... use one of them once in awhile, assholes!!!
                 It all started with that Domus apartment project you see in the background of the picture above. They needed to satisfy the Percent for Art requirement and it seems that they misread it as Percent for Shit. They got 1.2 million dollars from the Hanover Company, whatever the fuck that is, to throw up some kind of public art that would compliment the plaza in front of their ugly-ass building.
                 Enter Dennis Oppenheim. Here's the shit he proposed:

Actually, several different configurations were proposed, none of which look like the final product.
                     The renderings for the stupid bells were put on display in 2006 at the Slought Foundation, in their own pretentious words, "a non-profit organization that engages the public in dialogue about cultural and socio-political change." (barf). Oppenheim came up with all kinds of goofy explanations to justify his dumbass design. He said the bells would "disturb the association of the bell as ‘object’ to bell as ‘dwelling’ ”. YOU go live in them, asshole. As with all art and design, the more you have to explain it, the more it sucks.
                     By December 2007, the stupid bells were installed (by a California company, of course), looking much different than the renderings, and with some colored granite squiggles between them that are supposed to represent sound waves made by bells. Dumb. There's six in all, 20 feet tall made of aluminum tubing. What a wasted opportunity. 1.2 million dollars to play with and this is all we get? Oooh, you can walk through them. WHO FUCKING CARES?!?!
Here's the other three bells. From philart.net.
                    One of the kissing-ass articles that came out when this thing was installed says, "...Oppenheim reinvented the iconic symbol with inserted architectural elements including windows, promoting transparency." He put windows in it. WOW, what a genius!!!!! To promote TRANSPARENCY, you see. Was transparency getting a bad rap somewhere? Is transparency something that needs to be promoted? Promoted to what? Vice President of the Pretentious-ass Art Corporation? Feh.


  1. Please note that Domus also has no bike racks. So if you bike to Domus you have to climb up all over the fancy plantings and chain your bike to the side of the bell without being caught be the security guards who run out and tell you not to go near the bells. Could have gone for a 1,198,000 sculpture and some bike racks.

  2. I used to walk past these nearly every day. I always had a burning suspicion they were way more money than they should have been. Such absurdity is reminiscent of the $15 million concrete pi on the waterfront... No but really, did Oppenheim pay some metalshop guys (from California) to build this crap for $20 and then pocket the other $1,197,980?

  3. you're right. his other stuff is much better than these.


  4. Can't we go back to building badass statues? Just look at the center of Eakins Oval and tell me we shouldn't have more of that. You can't.

  5. I thought their whole point was to be a trellis, you mean they're not going to let the vines grow over them?