Tuesday, July 19, 2005

future, perfect

A hot summer's day spent in the artificial cool of a museum. I walk beside you, half listening to your vapid ruminations, tired assessments, and wanton suppositions. I've heard it all before - different pieces, same blathering. My mind pays closer attention to the clicking of heels on the marble floor, finding patterns where there aren't any. It's pretty bad when randomness makes more sense than you do. I smile, taking a sip of inferior champagne from a little plastic flute.

A piece catches my eye from across the room, and I tug at the sleeve of your jacket, steering you in the direction of my choosing. We arrive at a seemingly solid block of clay, about eight feet high, and three feet square, its surface marred by a variety of unsure wounds from indeterminate sources. For a moment you're speechless - the first time in a couple of decades, at least. Composing yourself, you quickly don your mask of schooled contempt.

"It's meaningless, with just a touch of the ludicrous," you begin. "Like an immoral man questioning the morality of another, an unjust man seeking to dispense justice, a dead man telling the living how to live, this thing, this non-art, aims to teach us about beauty?"

Your rhetoric is predictable, to say the very least, but I can't just let it go this time. I answer your question with a question.

"Can not art, also, teach us about the possible? This thing embodies rawness, the unformed, the potential for order in an orderless mass. See, there, where the artist began to carve away that corner, but stopped? Perhaps that could be the most realistic ear ever fashioned by human hands. Notice the abandoned kneading in the centre? That might have been the face of a woman so beautiful, men of flesh and blood would have lined up around the block to plant a kiss on her cold, but perfect, lips. Those abrasions on the bottom half? The legs of a goddess, certainly, they would have implied fluid motion even in their motionless state."

"But what's to say that the artist is even capable of such work?"

"What's to say she's not?"

"So, is it art, then?"

"It could be - but you have to look at it with your mind open. Come, let's find the guy with the champagne."

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