Art Detroit Now: Copernicus vs. Al-Tusi Staring Contest
Friday October 10, 2009
Detroit Institute of Art
Twelve Hour Stare Down
Art Detroit Now
Staring Contest, Chido Johnson and collaborator, Robert Andersen, 2009
Two men peer through clusters of trees at each other across the dividing border of Woodward Avenue, to realize an implicit mirror. In the “west,” we have the Polish Roman Catholic astronomer, Nicolas Copernicus, on the Detroit Public Library grounds; and in the “east” we have the Persian Muslim scholar, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, on the lawn of the Detroit Institute of Art. Copernicus’ research would not have developed without the work of his predecessor, al-Tusi, 272 years earlier. Copernicus’s advanced the theory that the planets orbited around the sun based on the work of al-Tusi, who chartered planetary movement. Separated nationalistically, ideologically, and culturally; these two astronomers in the woods mirror each other, caught in wonder, gazing into space, fixed in a staring contest.