Art is hard to define, so the boundaries of art keep expanding in every direction. With so many experimental projects on public display, it’s no surprise that occasionally they go bad in a big way. South Korean artist Lee Bul exhibited her work Majestic Splendor at the Museum of Modern Art in 1997, and they made her take it down. Why? Because the work consisted of rotting fish and sequins in plastic bags. The smell drove patrons away.
So not exactly the best start. Undaunted, Lee later brought her fishy opus back to the public’s nostrils in 2018 with an appearance at the Hayward Gallery in London, this time with an odor-reducing chemical included in the bags to help mitigate things. There was just one problem: That chemical was volatile, and could explode when mixed with the kind of organic compounds that might come from, say, a piece of rotting fish. Luckily, Lee’s artwork didn’t involve any dead fi- whoops.
Sure enough, right before the exhibition’s return to public glory, a bag of fish exploded while being moved, starting a fire in the gallery. Firefighters were called to put out the blaze, and a security guard required treatment for possibly the grossest kind of smoke inhalation. On the other hand, Bul’s exhibition did go off with a bang. We’ll see ourselves out.
That’s just one of 6 stories of art gone wrong at Cracked. There are not as many deaths as the title might imply, but plenty of injuries and destruction.
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