Max Neuhaus - untitled
  Year :   1979
  Location :   USA
  Worktype :   Installation
  Info :   Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art

  Work Details  
  The space at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art was a big column of air. The stairway itself, which sort of floated in the space without touching the walls, made a three-dimensional pathway through it. I wanted to be able to activate the column from any point within it; so I said, we build this speaker system of thirty channels that goes from the floor to the ceiling, we build it into the corner, and we build a thirty-channel amplifier a thirty-channel amplifier! The contradiction within this work was amazing [untitled, 1979-89]. It was quite loud, but many people could walk through it and not realize it was there. When it was finished the museum's board of directors was outraged. They said, we paid fifty thousand dollars for this sound piece and we got another twenty-five thousand dollars' worth of loudspeakers donated (they had to use three different airplanes to transport them because the magnetism was too much for the navigation system of just one) and nothing is here! It's the emperor's new clothes! People are like that in Chicago. But John Neff, the director of the museum then, was completely behind the work; he fought them well and won. He first came to me and said, I know that we have this agreement that once the work was inaugurated it would never be turned off again, but I want to ask you this one favor one evening I would like to bring the whole board into the space and turn it off for exactly thirty seconds. I was curious, but I just said, OK. So one evening all these people were ushered into the work. He asked them all to be quiet for one minute, and then he gave the signal to the engineer to turn it off. The space just imploded, the bottom dropped out of it, it left them in a void. And then he put it back on again and walked out of the room. They never forgave us neither him, me nor the work. Accessed 12.08.2009 from