Part 2: Looking at the art world over Adrian Ghenie’s shoulder and why I hate it or love it. Not sure.

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[Read Part 1 here.]

While this second part of my story was being written, AdicuÅ£ sold one of his latest pieces – don’t know which exactly, the nice one I guess – for a lot.

However, I have a different currency that I invented to measure his success. I count it in the amount of reporters that start asking me (of all people) for his contact details, every time he sells something way off their money-radar subjects and regular bicker-reporting of success stories, such as football transfers and celebrity divorces.

But Adicuţ doesn’t mind. He once told me he stopped taking part in this kind of intrigue shortly after his breakthrough, when he got heckled by an Orthodox priest. The guy was upset about the fact that he e-mailed for help (donating to some church he was building) and never got a reply from Adicuţ.

Romanians have a keen way of noting another Romanian’s accomplishment, be it winning the lottery, business ventures or regarding art. First of all, no Romanian is ever interested in hard working or slow growing fortunes. There’s just spite, bitterness and the occasional, very rare pride by association.

Because surely any Romanian’s achievement is a produce of all Romanians’ combined efforts of being Romanian.

This is not an example of artistic expression, Adicuţ was just holding the camera upside down.

‘An art show in London is like a wedding in Romania’

Adicuţ made this comparison trying to describe to me how he feels during an exhibition opening. You’d probably need to have a Romanian wedding with your most distant relatives in attendance to understand the reference. But it’s pretty similar to an art show in London.

After the opening event, I tried to invite myself to the after-dinner, to check that craziness out, but Adicuţ made sure to swiftly deny me access. He vaguely knows what my blog is all about and people with name tags on their seats would probably be at the dinner. He wasn’t going to take any chance of me finishing up my notebook there. Our relationship is saved for other circumstances.

So every now and then during the exhibit, Adicuţ would ask me to join him for a cigarette that he knows and doesn’t care I wouldn’t smoke. And every now and then he’d have to stop on our way out, cigarette in hand, nodding helplessly for minute after long minute of people congratulating him. All of these people were being thoroughly interested in whatever irrelevant detail of his work they somehow related to. And they were finally getting the opportunity to confront Adicuţ himself with it.

I’m not sure how much time he took nodding to questions he didn’t know were questions. These sessions lasted until his fans awkwardly moved on to conversations that would better suit his mechanic nod. His slight walleyed look he gets when he’s tired, or maybe always, never helps with him looking at least mildly focused, let alone interested. But I used this idle time when he was being trapped to stroll around the space of his expo.

Visitors were taking low quality phone pictures of the darkest places of the exhibit, sometimes with the random flash on.

I have compiled this collage in order to best illustrate this situation. I call it: A study of people taking low quality photos in poor lighting, sometimes with a flash.

The first one is a photo of people taking their photos. The second is a replica of a photo they would’ve taken. The last one is a photo freely available on the PACE Gallery page for the Golems Exhibition.

I don’t understand art. And I don’t think I should and I don’t think you can.

I’m pretty convinced people mostly prefer to think they do. They need to understand it! Just like the rest of the things we don’t, really. I’ve been fighting about this with all of my three friends that are somewhat connected to the art world.

Most things in life are crap as we well know, since we all buy them and then we are constantly unsatisfied. We demand good and then better value on what we paid for.

Except with art. It’s a paradox to me how art is transformed from feelings into conceptually valued products. Everyone around surprisingly agrees to this. Upon purchase, art is rendered currency. Sometimes its transaction is based on the transaction history itself. However everyone needs to ‘appreciate’ art, all art, hence the ultimate crap statement – there is no bad art.

Disregarding the fact that bad begets good, therefore there’s no good art. But there’s expensive art.

I appreciate artists getting paid for their work, for the feelings they trigger, for a representation or showing of their art. But you can’t buy art. When you buy a song you don’t own a song. You can listen to it. Similar to how you’d be paying to look at the painting.

Wu-Tang Clan tried to sell their new album to a sole listener for the highest bid and that sounded pretty stupid to everyone.

‘The main theme is music being accepted and respected as art and being treated as such. If something is rare, it’s rare. You cannot get another.’ (RZA of W-T C)

Now they’re waiting for someone to pay more than their current presumed offer of $5m.

To me, artistic expression is an emotional trigger. I believe it has no objective value, because there is no hierarchy of feelings, so what sense does it then make to calculate it in coin? You can’t keep art. It ends when it’s consumed by each individual it’s exposed to. It’s not getting any better. It’s not making you feel more something about it (short of selling it to the highest bidder). It’s like paying for the leftovers and wrapping in a restaurant and not for the food you ate.

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