Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Suspicious Package Destroyed by Iowa City Bomb Squad was Actually an Art Sculpture

You may remember that the Johnson County Bomb Squad was summoned to downtown Iowa City this past Sunday evening to destroy a suspicious package. Turns out that the would-be bomb was actually an art sculpture created by local poet and artist Russell Jaffe.

Someone had bought the sculpture and an accompanying poem from Jaffe early this year. This weekend, the person who purchased the sculpture left the sculpture in a newspaper vending machine. People use this particular vending machine to informally exchange items with others. Kind of like a "Little Library." You take stuff left by others and you leave stuff that others might enjoy.

Apparently, a private security guard saw the sculpture and alerted the police. They in turn contacted the bomb squad and the poor sculpture was destroyed. Somehow the artist and the person who'd left behind the offending sculpture have been in contact with the police and everyone is apparently sufficiently convinced that this was all a big mistake.

Here is an explanation of what happened directly from Jaffe's Facebook page:
ANNOUCEMENT Nø. 1: There was a bomb scare in Iowa City over the weekend, and I was indirectly responsible. You see, in January I did an art show of mixed media sculptures, HELL-Ø-SCAPES, comprised of painted-on and smashed-up electronics. The walls of local gallery PSz, were painted black and covered in scrawls of abstract pop-culture/boyesque/jaunty confessional poetry. I auctioned off all the artwork for cheap at the end of the closing reception. One woman, an exceedingly nice local kooky lady, bought a small portable TV for $2 and insisted that I write some of the wall poetry in her notebook. Within the 2 pages I gave her were poems like, “IT IS YØU MAKING A HUGE MISTAKE,” “YØLØ,” and “XØXØ, I REALLY MISS YØU/NØ ARCHITECTURE.” Flash forward 6 months and this Iowa City art-loving lady left my artwork and poems in the STRANGE TRACTOR newspaper stand on the corner of Washington and Dubuque during Arts Fest. Apparently people use that box as a kind of off-grid arts freeshare; you leave something and take whatever has been left in kind. Well, someone saw a gold-spraypaint-and-painted-blood-stained antenna poking out of the box and called the police, who called the bomb squad. O brothers, sisters, lovers, friends!; it was super fun to be driving home from my tour (I was out of town for all of this) and have my landlord call me to tell me the cops were looking for me. But not only were the cops super cool, they have gotten a huge kick out of this story. It’s a big hit at the station. One of them told me it’s “a fucking awesome story, totally hilarious, I wish I was writing for the college paper so I could cover it” today on the phone. I am glad no one was killed, and having my art and poetry eviscerated by a bomb-destroying robot is the thing I realized I never knew I always wanted.
You can see a close-up picture of the sculpture taken by the police in the top corner of this blog entry. Another pic of the sculpture, taken by Jaffe is immediately below. Check it out:

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