Installation Nation

For many homeowners, paintings, prints and sculptures are just accents to their decor. But these three will tell you: Sometimes art merits a room of its own.

John Waters


There are three "bombs" in here. One is inside a book. The other is a pipe bomb. And the other obviously is going to be mailed. There is a jacket that says Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union. Here's a peace sign. All the tools. We have garbage. We have the mad bomber's old shoes over there. His suitcase, I guess for when he's going to split town afterward. It's got the vents for the fumes to go out. And this looks like cocaine here. But it's not. I think it's some kind of powder. And this is really creepy here: It's fertilizer.

It's a bomb room, and it's by Gregory Green, the artist. I had seen one of his bomb installations at a gallery in SoHo. I really was impressed by it, because it actually looks like the room of a mad bomber; behavior that I can't understand always attracts me. I asked Gregory to do one in my house in Baltimore. When you do an installation in your house, there is a certain commitment from the collector, because you have to turn over the whole room.

I gave him the dimensions of the room and sent him pictures. Then it's up to him. He went around and bought a lot of stuff in New York. It was in my car. It was my whole car, packed. The trunk, everything. If we had been pulled over, it looked so much like the Unabomber Goes to Baltimore.

Then we got to Baltimore, and we had to go buy more stuff. We went to every hardware store buying gallons -- I mean any other person, warning signs! But since most people in the hardware stores know it's me, and I make movies, you can get away with pretty much anything.

Gregory Green just said, "Leave me alone." The only thing that I gave him as direction was that I hate sports. It's the most politically incorrect thing, to blow up the stadium in Baltimore. It's the most loved thing in Baltimore. And it's the target of the mad bomber.

This was before 9/11. I mean, there was always terrorism, but, believe me, the installation is a lot more politically incorrect these days. It's actually getting worse. It's more horrifying, since the history of terrorism has so radically changed. To have terrorism in a room in your house, you don't show it to everybody. Let me put it that way. When the phone man comes over, I don't say, "Hey, want to see my bomb room?"

It's confrontational in the best sense of the word. That's what contemporary art should be. I'm not trying to shock people. That's easy.

What's harder is to shock people and make them laugh and get their attention and change how they think about something. That's what I've always tried to do. Shock 'em to get their attention, but then, hopefully with some wit and humor, make them change the way they think about something. But if somebody ever does blow up the stadium, I'm in real trouble.


PHOTOS: David Graham

© 2007 The Washington Post Company