An art exhibition that had been open for one day when Hurricane Sandy blew into New York, flooding the gallery and ruining a number of artworks, is set to reopen next week.
Yevgeniy Fiks' controversially titled exhibition, Homosexuality Is Stalin's Atom Bomb to Destroy America, had to close almost immediately when the Winkleman Gallery was flooded during the hurricane with water reaching 8ft and leaving the space “covered in mud” and resembling a war zone medical camp.
Gallery owner Edward Winkleman told The Independent: “Although we had prepared for the surge by placing about 80 per cent of the art up on tables and raising everything in the basement up at least 4ft -and truly thinking at the time that we had over-prepared- , we had absolutely no idea that much water coming into our space was even possible.”
He continued: “The gallery resembled an artwork MASH [Mobile Army Surgical Hospital] unit for about two weeks as we had no electricity, no heat, no lights, etc, and everything was covered in mud.”
Fortunately none of the artwork from Fiks’ exhibition was damaged but the gallery’s basement, the ground floor and some of the walls had to be ripped out, replaced and new electricity and heating systems installed. It has taken 10 weeks to make the necessary repairs.
Winkleman is in the process of talking to art restorers about the damaged pieces but says “as you might imagine all the conservators in the New York area remain very, very busy responding to the damage”.
Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, said that $42bn worth of damage had been caused across the state by “superstorm” hurricane Sandy which hit the East Coast of America in early-November. The 900-mile-wide storm was concentrated along the New Jersey coast and the five boroughs of New York leaving a death toll of over 100 people.
Fiks’ show, his third solo exhibition at the Winkleman, takes its title from a 1953 article by the Cold Warrior and pundit Arthur Guy Mathews. It explores the historical and ideological links between anti-Communism and homophobia in the United States.
Moscow-born Fiks, 40, has been living in New York since 1994.