The Golden Plates

still from Maurizio Cattelan’s Sunday, 2024, installation video, via gagosian

In his Brooklyn Rail review of Maurizio Cattelan’s Sunday, Andrew Paul Woolbright makes an observation that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere else, but which feels like it is central, even foundational, to the work:

Composed of gold plates perforated by bullet holes, Sunday’s surfaces seem to swell, making them formally strange—somehow both ballooned-up and torn-through. Their self-violation as a luxury surface is produced by an uncanny shockwave of physics. Freud defined humor as an important act of transgression, and it is the separation of the audience from what went into making the sixty-four gold-plated panels that is transgressive: in a top-secret invite-only warehouse in Queens, through trick doors and passcodes, Catellan led a group of collectors and art-world VIP’s into an underground shooting range where marksmen fired on the gold plates, an act that detourned the process of violence by making it into an exclusive event.

If he hadn’t made a solid gold toilet named America, I might not have believed it, but I think Cattelan’s project was over months ago.

And so the gold-plated, bullet-riddled wall is just the morning-after detritus of a happening where people thrilled to be party to the spectacle of violence.