many museums have established virtual tours of their holdings. it's a great way to spend a few hours, together with a good cup of coffee. the impetus for gaping, all schmaltzy-like, at art in the wee hours of a saturday morning? an article in Rue89 about the chinese artist zhang daqian. the emphasis was on what the art market is willing to bear, in terms of price, and how shocking that zhang daqian outsells picasso, gasp!
the art market is, of course, complicated -- just check out the information about auction results and other indices over at artprice.com.
were i a bit more evil, i bet i could turn art prices and some prefab notion of a free art market economy into frothing fodder for the GOP presidential aspirants, what with their errant attention spans, an opportunity to use the word "inflation," and crippling xenophobia. with a tweak here, and a tweak there, i can have the value of zhang daqian's work intimately entwined with foreign policy and the imperative to reduce the national debt.
just look at this swirling loveliness! now try to turn your facile and waffling take on free trade agreements and illegal immigration into some sort of china policy that covers the art work of a master forger. ah, the twist, the rub!
i miss the heady days of the early republican debates, when the ideas for maintaining a strong national artistic border came down to having boots on the ground and electric charges in the fence.
|boots with laces, 1886|
From the dark opening of the worn inside of the shoes the toilsome tread of the worker stares forth. In the stiffly rugged heaviness of the shoes there is the accumulated tenacity of her slow trudge through the far-spreading ever-uniform furrows of the field swept by a raw wind. On the leather lie the dampness and richness of the soil. Under the soles slides the loneliness of the field-path as evening falls...
-- Martin Heidegger
The Origin of the Work of Art
|Jason Ferguson | Koe | custom circular ditch, water, electric fence, & live cow|
Eastern Michigan University Art Department
i found a small spiral notebook stuck in a plastic bag full of bills. in an attempt to keep track of goings-on in the hospital, i'd jotted down notes as reminders and testaments.
one day, two women from environmental services dominated several pages.
this hospital has a pilot program whereby mentally retarded [i really don't want to run a marathon on the euphemism treadmill this morning, so make whatever politically correct changes you deem necessary] workers work as nurse's aides, food service delivery folk, and ward minions. one such employee was named annie, and she worked for environmental services, cleaning patients' rooms.
"Knock, knock. My name is Miss Annie from Environmental Services. I am here to clean and freshen your room. May I come in?"
it's a very nice introduction, and it made me smile, usually.
i wasted a fair amount of time interrogating visitors as to their identities.
for instance -- imagine that you are half-napping. you jolt upward into complete awareness when the smiling, well-groomed woman in spotless blue scrubs -- under a knee-length white lab coat without embroidered identification or departmental badge swinging on a lanyard -- proffers a tiny, fake cough. she calls your name and then asks, as if asking this were a perfectly natural beginning to a conversation -- "so... what happened, darling?"
tell me that you would not, at that precise point, ask her who the hell she was, being careful to add "sweetcheeks" as an endearment.
so, yes, i liked miss annie. i liked that she told me what department she represented and that she warned me, up front, about what she was gonna do.
miss annie was huge. her voice was even larger than her actual frame. sometimes it shocked me so that i feared being stuck on the ceiling. even so, we developed a fondness for one another, even though we never much talked beyond her vibrant announcement and my "thank you, miss annie."
twice, though, i upset miss annie's world. once, i was in so much pain that i needed to be left alone, isolated, packed away. it came out as a cruel and strident "no, miss annie, you may not come in now... please come back later." it rocked her world and she could only repeat her lines, a little louder, with a few shifts in emphasis:
"Knock, knock. My name is Miss Annie from Environmental Services, God damn it. I am here, right now, right here in the here and now, to clean and freshen your your God damned room. May I come in? Let me in, God damn it."
i acquiesced but spent the whole 10 minutes of her merciful mission sighing and swiping at my angry tears. i also insisted that she wipe down the trapeze bars and help me find the two pens and a pencil that i'd dropped on the floor.
the next day, miss annie was back, didn't miss a beat. and when "please, not now" became necessary once again, we conversed seamlessly, as friends. well, no, not as friends. as environmental services rep and patient.
when miss annie was not there, another woman took her place, and announced her name and job. she lacked miss annie's style and overall panache. she was adequate.
one of my last days there, she arrived while i was writhing about in full spasm, trying not to claim a number on the pain scale that was above its limit of ten. as i have many times maintained, calling out a 10+ rating just renders the whole silly effort to quantify pain... sillier.
i made an effort when she first came in, smiling, joking, even. but then the spasms got serious and i dissolved into tears. the next thing i knew, she was bent over me, yelling:
"do you know my face? do you know my face?"
i don't know how i answered her, but i think i repeated this: "what? what?"
then, crafty devil that she was, she shifted verbiage, now demanding:
"do you know who i am with? do you know who i am with?"
this was becoming pretty scary to me, i admit. my nurse came into the room with some medication and was probably shocked by my happiness to see her. before i could speak, though, miss annie's replacement gave report:
this lady started out okay, nurse, but then she went rotten with pain. she didn't know who i was. she didn't know environmental services, and her eyes won't focus.
and so, dear readers, this is what i wrote during the night. odd and disjointed, it; odd and disjointed, me.
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