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Thieves Steal Ei Arakawa Work at Skulptur Projekte Münster

Only one week after the opening of the decennial, outdoor Skulptur Projekte Münster 2017, unknown perpetrators have damaged and stolen parts of Japanese-American artist Ei Arakawa’s installation Harsh Citation, Harsh Pastoral, Harsh Münster.

Located on a meadow in front of Haus Kump, which houses part of the city’s Chamber of Crafts, Arakawa’s installation consists of seven digital paintings. The screened LED panels, on hand-dyed fabric, depict works by Joan Mitchell, Atsuko Tananka, Gustave Courbet, Nikolas Gambaroff, Amy Sillman, Reena Spaulings, and Jutta Koether. The piece also includes an audio component—songs, composed by two of the artist’s friends—that plays throughout the day. “They are texts about the public and the private space,” Arakawa explained, “whoever is listening to them in this rural environment experiences the meditation between the public and private and feels what this means for our time.”

A statement on the exhibition’s website reads: “One of seven LED panels for Ei Arakawa’s Harsh Citation, Harsh Pastoral, Harsh Münster, was stolen on June 17. The artist is working on the replacement, and it might take until the beginning of July. Six other LED panels and all seven sound components are working normally, so please visit. The best viewing time for LED is on the cloudy day or closer to sunset time.”

According to police, the perpetrators opened one of the installation’s glass vitrines, severed the power cords, and stole the LED painting of the Jutta Koether work. Since the demand for Arakawa works on the art market has been steadily increasing, the exhibition’s organizers expressed confusion by the thieves’ motivation since they stole only the one painting. The authorities also pointed out the degree of professionalism of the crime, as the burglars “were particularly careful to not damage the work.”

Staged every ten years, Skulptur-Projekte Münster displays works by thirty-five international artists, presented throughout the city. This year’s edition was organized by artistic director Kasper König, exhibition designer Britta Peters, and curator Marianne Wagner. To learn more about the exhibition, read contributor Alex Fialho’s account of his trip to Münster here.