Today has been a typical Monday in my life. I opened the dryer and discovered I had washed a holy card with the underwear. If the image of the blessed Mother appears on Tim’s underwear, I am building a shrine in my laundry room and I will have pilgrims visiting before I know it. We will sell underwear souvenirs under the marketing label “Fruit of the Womb”….ok, ok, so I stole that joke. Fine, it’s hard to be creative on Monday. I really did wash a Holy Card though and I hope that isn’t some sort of mortal sin. I guess I better go to confession
John ambled through the room and I asked him how he was doing. He sort of grunted, so I asked again, always vigilant for signs of drug abuse (inhaling the Right Guard), depression or anger. He stared at me musingly for a minute and then said “Well, I took a big poop a little while ago and it was kind of runny, but I feel pretty good now.” I’m so sorry I asked. Go back and inhale your deodorant son.
This afternoon, I took him to Art’s Music shop for a music lesson. He is learning how to play French Horn now. While I was waiting, I picked up a copy of the Wall Street Journal dated May 16th. Next time I’ll bring more current reading material.
Now most people read the Wall Street Journal for financial news or investment advice. I, of course, was immediately immersed in an article about how difficult it is to preserve and/or insure works of contemporary art. This might sound fairly innocuous to you, but it’s a very vexing and complex problem.
I know nothing about art. I have no personal taste at all and I might as well be color blind for all the sense I can make out of paintings. If there is a distinguishing feature in the painting, like a cow or a rock, I can appreciate it. If, however, it is a melange of abstract shapes and violent colors, I am scratching my head trying to understand what I am supposed to be seeing.
Contemporary art really puzzles me. So why is it that one person can take a used tissue, glue it to a coaster, sprinkle it liberally with fingernail clippings and call it “The Human Condition” and be celebrated as an artist? These are the sorts of works that insurers are declining to insure due to their transient nature. After all, fingernail clippings will eventually deteriorate. And although they are certainly a renewable resource, one has to question the integrity of the work if the artist’s fingernail clippings are replaced with clippings from, say, that dude who came and pumped out the septic tank this morning. Is it still the property of the artist, or does the septic tank dude have some claim on the piece now?
Well, I’m rambling like this because there were two specific works cited that are composed of organic matter and are therefore prone to the vagaries of time and deterioration. One is a giant topiary puppy composed of fresh flowers. Now even a three year old knows that once you pick a flower, it’s gonna die. And no matter what you spray it with, eventually it’s going to decompose.
But my favorite is a work by Damien Hirst entitled “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”, which is a 14 foot tiger shark suspended in a tank of formaldehyde. It is considered “the seminal work of the Young British Artists movement.” You gotta love those Brits; put a big, dead shark in a tank and it’s art!!! Now who’s buying the next pint? Laugh if you will, but the dude sold it for…..are you ready……over 8 million dollars!!!!!!
I’m telling you right now, I will no longer be flushing goldfish down the toilet. Hell no, I’m gonna mount those suckers and sell them as art!! Why did I let the girls entomb Stripes the Turtle? I could have made a killing off of his corpse!! I could have placed his little body in a Gladware container filled with foramaldehyde and called my work “The Impossible Transience of Amphibians As Cared For by Six Year Olds”. My genius would have been heralded throughout the world!!
Well, back to the shark. Unfortunately for the purchaser, the shark began “rotting from the inside out, causing it to take on a withered appearance and clouding the fluid in the tank.” Um, sir, was this piece of art covered by the Good Housekeeping seal of Approval? Because what’s the point of having a dead shark suspended in a tank if no one can see it through the cloudy fluid? And he’s hardly going to inspire shock and awe in someone if he looks more like George Burns than Jaws!
Well, the artist was kind enough to replace the shark with another one, at the expense of the purchaser of course. So that ups the purchaser’s total cost to $8,100,000 for a big, stinky dead shark in an aquarium. Obviously, I am totally in the wrong profession here. I am going to go outside, scoop up that dead opossum on the main road and see what I can make of him. I will make sure I post the details of my exhibit opening here on the blog!!