Kofi Annan (far left) with Kathy Halbreich (far right) and Walker board vice
president Nazie Eftekhari (second from right) in the Walker galleries.
Photo: Art Hughes
When UN Secretary General Kofi Annan came to the Twin Cities this weekend to help launch the Institute for Global Citizenship at his alma mater, Macalester College, he also worked in a trip to the Walker. Director Kathy Halbreich, who joined Annan for a private tour of the exhibition Kiki Smith: A Gathering, 1980–2005, says Annan was “interested, astute, and an elegant delight.” Of the nearly one-hour tour, which was scheduled to run 20 to 30 minutes, she shares:
When we were looking at Kiki’s work, [exhibition curator] Siri [Engberg] mentioned one of the wax sculptures was of the Virgin Mary. I said, “It’s odd, but nothing stirs people more than a naked body…not issues of race, murder or mayhem.” To which he replied: Maybe that’s because everyone can identify with a body; it’s me or it’s not.
I then mentioned how I found Kiki’s work, rather than dealing with issues of sexuality, revealed how fragile we were as human beings, how our mortality was present everyday.” Kofi then turned to one of his colleagues and introduced him, saying: He’s a Muslim and they deal with death so much better than we do.