Working closely with museum director Charles Stainback and curator Ian Berry, Kobuskie gauges how many crew-hours will be needed to properly install the hundred or so artworks per exhibition. It takes exquisite care to move each piece from shipping crate to gallery. You pace yourself, wear white gloves, and arrange cushioned surfaces beneath every piece, he says.
The challenges can seem daunting. For instance, a delicate hanging called The Praying Wall was made of human hair, white glue, and twine; its display at the Tang measured an imposing 20 by 25 feet. But it wasnt as difficult as you would think, grins Kobuskie. It came in four-by-six-foot sections that we laid out on brown paper. We handed sections up to two people in the scissors-lift, who nailed them up with finish nails, boom-boom-boom. Took one day.
At the other end of the scale, a cute little number like Rebecca Horns Oysters Piano was a major headache. Composed of a delicate set of levers, each ending with an oyster shell holding a pearl-like marble, it ran on a tiny electric motor. We went through four motors before we determined that crossed wiring was burning them out, says Kobuskie.
Over the short course of his Tang career, Kobuskie has installed a fog machine, tanks of live frogs, a 200-pound Roy Lichtenstein painting, and a glittering Native American boutique, complete with disco lights and music. Its all part of my jobfrom ordering lightbulbs to handling $100,000 artworks, he says.
As an artist himself, Kobuskie has his favorites in each show, but as a preparator, I sometimes just think, Boy, that piece was hard to install! But Oysters Piano was, after all, really a joy. When the keys went up and down and the marbles moved on the shells, they made a little clinking noise that was very lovely. BAM