“‘This makes me embarrassed to be an American,’ the megacurator of an extremely well-known U.S. art museum groaned to me. We were standing in front of what was truly a spectacle of American proportions. Directly in front of the American Pavilion in the beautiful Giardini, main site of the Venice Biennale — which opens on Saturday — the artists Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla have placed a 60-ton Army tank. It’s a real one, shipped from England at who knows what expense, turned upside-fucking-down, turret and gun barrel on the ground, steel treads to the sky. Atop this warlord wedding cake, they’ve installed a treadmill where a world-class runner works out for fifteen minutes of every hour. It’s the health club from Hell, Afghanistan in Venice, and it makes a humongous racket that can be heard all around the Giardini. I looked back at the curator and said, “I think being embarrassed to be an American is partly what this is about.”
I wouldn’t describe myself as the Saltz’s greatest fan, but the phrase “warlord wedding cake” is pretty fantastic.