October 11, 2004
One of the most highly anticipated and
provocative artist exhibitions of the New York fall season
ended abruptly after its opening party got out of hand.
Eero Saarinens TWA Terminal at New Yorks JFK
Airport, closed since 2001, was transformed into an exhibition
hall for artists in a show called Terminal 5. Curated by independent
curator Rachel K. Ward, 29, the show was conceived to reflect
on the "transitory nature of travel, architecture and
contemporary art," according to Wards exhibition
The exhibition opened to a raucous party on October 1 and
was planned to have continued through January 31 with a variety
of public events and lectures. But the opening night crowd
of artists and hundreds of other revelers (enjoying complimentary
Grey Goose vodka and Pop champagne served from airplane carts),
which was much larger than anticipated, left a mess including
vomit on the floor, broken glass, graffiti on walls, and a
broken door, according to the Port Authority of New York and
New Jersey, which operates the airport. The Port Authority
claims liquor was being sold without a permit, but Ward says
she did not witness that. She prompted people to leave and
closed the party one hour early only because "the crowd
had reached a great number," she says.
The show had a number of sponsors, including the Port Authority
itself. JetBlue Airways, which plans to construct a new terminal
(designed by Gensler, another sponsor) that connects to the
Saarinen building, gave more than $100,000 in support. Gareth
Edmondson-Jones, a spokesperson for JetBlue, told RECORD that
"theres a list of violations (of the permit for
the exhibition) as long as your arm," with a mess that
included used condoms on the floor.
Ward would not confirm the damage specifics, and although
she says the terminal was adequately cleaned in the following
days, the Port Authority pulled the permit and did not allow
the exhibition to open to the public as scheduled on October
5. At press time, Ward was in negotiations with the Port Authority
to reopen the show. The terminal and exhibition had also been
planned as a highlight of the second annual openhousenewyork
weekend, October 9 and 10.
"We responded to the size of the crowd by ending the
event early, and we responded to the aftermath of the event,"
Ward told RECORD.
Ward, a New York-based freelance curator of contemporary
art, first conceived the exhibition in summer 2003. "I
began the project out of dedication to the landmark,"
Ward says. "I wanted it to be a platform respectful to
the building and the artwork. I was heartbroken that this
building was closed to the public."
Among the nearly 20 artists in the terminal 5 show, Tobias
Wong designed a new gift shop space, Jenny Holzer developed
text messages for the terminals arrivals and departures
boards, and Douglas Coupland designed imaginary machines with
shapes derived from aircraft equipment. Ryoji Ikeda, a Japanese
sound artist, developed a light-and-sound installation in
one walkway and Tom Sachs constructed a skateboard ramp in
another walkway. Other artists, whose work included installations,
music, fashion, and film, included Dan Graham, Vanessa Beecroft,
Sean Linezo, and Toland Grinnell.
Jet Blue, acting as censor, asked that two of the exhibition
pieces -- a gold-plated vibrator by Grinnell and a video called
"VB 54" by Beecroft, portraying shackled women in
Afro wigs and black body paint -- be pulled from the show
after a private Vanity Fair preview of the exhibition earlier
in the week.
German publisher Lukas & Sternberg has published a 300-page
catalogue of Terminal 5, which includes a dedication by Saarinens
daughter Susan Saarinen, photographs of the artwork and essays
about the pieces, the original Ezra Stoller photos of the
terminal, new photos of the terminal, never-before-published
architectural drawings of the terminal, and essays about Saarinen
and the terminal.
John E. Czarnecki, Assoc. AIA