Word Choice features original works of fiction and poetry. Read a short story by Amy Benson, selected by Alexis Boehmler.
Rumors circulated. Interns quit. Depending on who you ask, the gallery was not careful with the wording or it was immaculately precise. Either way, the press release seemed to imply that the upcoming exhibit would be radioactive, with materials hot from Chernobyl. Attendants, they said, would be wearing protective suits; visitors would be asked to sign waivers.
A good deal had been written previously about the artists, mostly by critics, sometimes by journalists on the arts beat, but now they were suddenly, massively famous. Newspapers, morning shows, cable news networks, and blogs frothed over the story, leading with Has the art world gone too far? or Would you risk cancer just to see art? or While the world reels from Japan’s nuclear disaster, one Manhattan art gallery is allegedly bringing radiation to you. For a day or two, the radioactive exhibit was the dominant topic in online discussion threads and polls: Environmental art or sensationalism? Should artists who harm the viewer be prosecuted? A Court TV anchor interviewed a professor of law who said he would be within his rights to attend the gallery show because it might be radioactive and then initiate a lawsuit because it might be radioactive. “We must be protected from our curiosity,” he said.