The Maira Kalman show closed. On Sunday 67 people walked through the gallery, looked at the pictures on the walls and at the ladders and linens and language primers on the floor and tables, and walked back out. The doors locked behind them.
This morning, de-installation has begun, complex and choreographed as a ballet. Crew members, in white archival gloves like mimes, move carefully around the gallery. I ask what they are doing, and this is what I’m told: First the flatwork is taken down and leashed to the D-ring.
The “flatwork” is the pictures on the walls. Each picture has been attached to the wall with a thin metal leash to discourage theft (who knew?). Now these leashes are getting tied to fasteners on the back of the frames called “D-rings,” and then the pictures are wrapped for packing. There is a short discussion about what kind of tape to use for this, the regular blue masking tape or the white archival tape. Shannon, the head preparator, decides archival tape is best. Next, each picture will be covered with plastic and placed in a large tray with a few other pictures, foam buffering them on all sides. Illustrated labels are taped in place underneath so that, once the pictures are taken out, the next crew at the next museum (in this case the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco) will know where to put them in again. Then each tray is placed in a crate made specially for the show. The crates are a beautiful green, halfway between grass and avocado. I think Maira Kalman would like to see them lying around the gallery with all her collections. She might well start collecting the crates, which would necessitate bigger crates being built to house these crates, carefully wrapped, for some future show.
On the far side of the room Joy, from the crating company, is making careful bundles of tissue paper to support the Isaac Mizrahi jackets. She buttons the first one carefully around the tissue and lays it in a box while Robert takes a photograph, documenting the procedure. In a corner, Jacob is fitting the children’s table and chairs into a long cardboard box and wrapping them in packing blankets. Extra tape is brought in. The plastic vitrine holding the onion ring collection is taken apart, and the onion rings just lie there out in the open, next to the watches and the Prozac paperweight. I don’t know how they’re going to pack them, but I wonder if any onion rings in the history of the world have ever been handled so elaborately.
It’s getting messy in here, in what was yesterday a pristine, organized exhibition space. People are working hard to keep everything in order, but for the moment it looks like entropy is winning. Screws roll on the floor, screwdrivers lie on tables, crates and trays and cardboard boxes are placed at convenient but messy angles.
This is a transitional season, a kind of museum autumn. The beautiful garden of summer is blowing apart, littering the ground, and busy squirrels hurry about, gathering and hoarding. Soon these walls will be returned to a perfect January whiteness. The gallery will rest a while, until the cycle starts up again.
Even though the Kalman show has closed, there is lots going on at ICA this summer. Come see Queer Voice through August 1, and check out our fantastic and original Summer Studio program throughout the month of July with artist Anthony Campuzano.