Letter: Well played, Heidi

What delightful impertinence by Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson in her ironic use of desert tortoises to mock the very donors from whom she collects the very big bucks. Clearly she and the artist have collaborated in a Marxist statement that cleverly performs how murderous capital — represented by the iPads with their ghost towns, a parody of the deadness at the heart of Aspen’s uber-rich community — has been built on the backs of the working class — represented by the tortoises forced to carry this weight. Doubly clever in that it concurrently demonstrates how capital blatantly enjoys the destruction of the natural environment.

The artist, Cai Guo-Qaing, does not neglect to show that as in foot-binding, the mutilation of the natural by culture can result in objects of veneration. Zuckerman Jacobson, who at the Aspen Ideas conference spoke of her desire not to have a place of learning for the young but rather to promote a frisson (see for an excellent critique of the museum), has certainly performed well; her frisson — her little shudder — no doubt has an exciting sadistic quality, both toward her unsuspecting donors and the equally naive tortoises.

Frisson has at its root the Latin word frigere, “to be cold,” and only someone very cold could carry this off so beautifully. Congratulations.

Joan Harvey