As recently as 2017, the Guggenheim Museum’s then-chief curator, Nancy Spector, said she had been “hesitant at best” when Cattelan approached her about a possible sculpture of an airplane embedded in an edifice.
“The timing (and maybe the location) was off,” Spector, who has since left the museum, wrote in a forthcoming essay for the HangarBicocca catalog. “After 9/11, especially for New Yorkers, nothing felt safe.”
Even four years later, Spector, in the essay, acknowledged that, “‘Blind’ will, no doubt, elicit strong emotional responses.” But, she added: “The fact that this monolith of a sculpture will be first shown in a museum context in Milan as part of the artist’s exhibition — and not in the midst of New York City — will allow the work to breathe, as it were, and test itself publicly as an object of deep and complex meaning.”
The Guggenheim declined to comment.
Roberta Tenconi, the curator at HangarBicocca, and Vicente Todolí, the artistic director, said in an email that they “did not have any doubt” about showing “Blind.”
“Art is an expression of freedom and the role of a museum, we believe, is to be a place for sharing different voices and for generating thoughts and reflections on the world we are living in,” they wrote in a joint email.
“‘Blind’ definitely recalls a dark and tragic moment in history, and it is there to remember the fragility and the vulnerability of all human beings,” they continued. “Exhibiting the work in New York is a decision up to the cultural and art institutions there.”