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Haven’t you heard of that mad curator who made an appearance at the last Art Basel preview, sipping and splashing champagne in the bright morning hours? He crept into the gallery passing the guest list at the door, and cried incessantly: “I seek the Work of Art! I seek the Work of Art!” As many of those who came to see the announced performance were standing around just then, he provoked much participation. “Did it get stolen?”, asked one. “Could it be already sold?”, asked another. Are you in the right venue? What is said in the press release? Is it a painting you are searching for? a sculpture? mixed media? Thus they participated and targeted their smartphones in his direction (some even moved closer to make a better shot).

 

The mad curator leaned on the gallery wall and browsed them with his eyes. “Where is the Work of Art?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed it — you and I. All of us are its murderers. But how did we do this? How could we sell millions of tickets before an exhibition opening? Who gave us the Tilt Brush? What were we doing when we applied our filters to their images? Where is the original moving now? Where are we moving? Away from all originals? Are we not re-posting continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any inside or outside? Are we not straying, as through a self-generating multiplicity? Do we not feel the breath of empty signifiers? Has it not become crowded? Is not self-reference continually closing in on us? Do we not need to waste ourselves with champagne in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of technician’s drill who is installing the Work of Art in the lobbies of business centres? Do we twitter nothing as yet of the creative de-individualisation? Works of Art, too, de-individualise. The Work of Art is dead. The Work of Art remains dead. And we have killed it.”

 

Here the mad curator fell silent and looked at his smartphone; and the smartphone, too, was silent — but apparently the Uber had arrived. At last he finished his champagne and threw the glass on the ground, and it broke into pieces (some even moved closer to make a better shot). The cleaning lady was instructed to leave it there by now. "I have come too early," he said then; "my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of the guest list crowd. To make it from degree shows to museum collections require time; the attention of celebrities requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than the most distant new big thing at the art schools — and yet they have done it themselves.”

 

It has been related further that on the same day the mad curator forced his way into several webpages of contemporary art centres worldwide (apparently, he used a secured IP address) and there struck up his requiem to the eternal rest for the Work of Art on the comments page. Identified and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: "What after all are these art centres and #stayhomemuseums now if they are not for copies and simulacra of the Work of Art?" 

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