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Maurizio Cattelan


by Charlie Finch
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After first criticizing and then filming segments for a documentary on Maurizio Cattelan's "All," the dangling assemblage of his life's work now drawing record crowds at the Guggenheim, I found myself surrounded by dangling Cattelans when a freak Halloween storm hit most of Westchester and Connecticut, knocking out power for six days at my two acres above the Croton Reservoir, for example.

Since the leaves were still on the trees, the accumulating weight of an early snow, spread across the leaves, weakened a number of large  branches, especially on the soft-wooded maples, so that they cracked, and, when the sun returned, left dangling yellow-leaved branches all over the sky.

The sadness of this sight increased when the branches, eight to ten feet long and weighing an average of 50 pounds, began to fall. They did not fall all at once: every night I would hear one or two bomb crashes in the back and front yards here on the hill, as tree shrapnel hit planet earth, a total of 73 large branches over a six week period. I still have three humongous ones dangling like large skirted flying witches over the back fence, ready to tumble.

So each day, I walked out in my work clothes with axe, clippers and saw to dispose of what once dangled, hearing the cackle of a vengeful Cattelan in my ear. The weakest branches, which fell, were all shaped like a kid's slingshot, the split branch being the most vulnerable and what looks so ethereal reaching through the sky is simply dead heavy on the ground.

I began to think exclusively of dangling things as I worked, the briny dead ducks in the windows of Chinatown stores which freaked me out as child, fuzzy dice above the dashboard of the car service vehicles in Brooklyn, even what's between this old man's legs typing this bit of whimsy pantsless at dawn.

So Maurizio Cattelan's allover argument that everything exists in a temporary state of suspended animation has been forcefully suspended over me. We are all dangling and for us, the future fallen, what lies beneath ain't pretty. I'm glad he can joke about it.

CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).