If your are looking to get a great deal of publicity, just stick a half-naked zombie man statue on your lawn, especially if that lawn happens to belong to a prestigious women's college near Boston. Forget flamingos.
To promote the Davis Museum's new exhibit New Gravity by artist Tony Matelli, Wellesley College curators decided to place one of Matelli's life-like pieces on the lawn.
Photo Credit: David L. Ryan/Boston Globe
The uproar over the statue was enough to wake the dead. When interviewed by the Boston Globe, Matelli said, "The sculpture is of a man who is hopelessly lost and out of place." Matelli's metaphor, however, seems to have been lost in the clamor.
It's easy to see how such an image could make some people uncomfortable. At the same time, art is meant to confront our sensibilities and make us think. Maybe there is no such thing as "deeper" meaning in this and that the art is just another shameless assault on the dignity of all men and women.
There's a reason Matelli created "The Sleepwalker" and it's a pretty safe bet to say that he wasn't out to offend women. If anything, the statue seems to be waking a few people up to the fact that the relationship between life and art is relevant to the way we experience the world the today.
Like Andres Serrano's 1987 "Piss Christ", showing a cruxifix submerged in urine, it's important to treat "The Sleepwalker" with reason. Art helps us to negotiate the various realms of meaning in art and in life.
As C.J. Ducase observes, we must think of interpretation as a kind of mental event -- an activity in which consciousness something causes us to become conscious of something else.