After years of wavering commitment to presenting thought-provoking, creative exhibits, the Wenigma Artspace announced this Monday that it has officially abandoned any further efforts in this direction.
“Fuck this,” exclaimed gallery founder and executor Gord Portnoy, speaking at a press conference given from the flatbed of his recently-acquired Ford F-350. Portnoy, formerly known as, simply, Lightbulb, explained his decision as the end result of a gradual disillusionment with the contemporary artistic community and corpus.
“First we had the exhibit where someone wrote the book of Genesis with their own hair trimmings. That was okay. Then, the next month, they came back with the lyrics to I Can’t Dance done in toenail clippings. That’s probably where the scale began to tip.”
According to Portnoy, at this point the general ethos of submitted work began to drift from socially, emotionally or intellectually relevant creations to “practical jokes, audience insults, locking patrons in the bathroom, and kinda just being assholes to everyone. That drove away a lot of the visitors, but the real diehards hung in there, drawn closer by the belief that they really got it on some deeper understanding. Or maybe they were just trying to have sex with the artist – you know, for a class project or something.”
Portnoy’s slight apprehension about this new, edgy ‘Eat Shit’ movement was ultimately to become amplified by the last major work in the genre (presented in Portnoy’s gallery, no less): Eat My Shit, which lured viewers into a room with the promise of a painting, yet contained only a bucket of the artist’s feces placed on top of the door.
“I admit, at first I was into it. When I first heard that it was okay to make works with your own shit, I was thrilled. I could double my output on any given day, and it cut down my water bill. The thing that no one predicted was that people didn’t want to spend time in a gallery that’s got pounds and pounds of shit smeared on everything.”
Portnoy’s distaste with Eat My Shit and the ensuing Bowel movement only grew over time, and the sour taste had yet to leave his mouth when subsequent movements arose, building on the lingering issues left in its wake.
“Jesus, that’s when it really started to suck. First, they dredged up every bodily fluid they could. Then, they dredged up every meaning they could find for them – every saying, every axiom, every play on words that they could find, they used. It’s almost admirable how much they got out of sputum.”
His disillusionment grew with each arriving movement, from “eating paint and shitting it onto canvas” to “celebrity statues” to “real dogs humping plaster cats” to “art about art about art for art’s sake”, until one event finally caused him to cease caring.
“I’d made a series of installation pieces about the habit of billionaires buying famous pieces to impress people – nothing special, just some cave art made out of money – when my gallery was robbed the night before the series’ unveiling. Everyone showed up to an empty gallery, and I got the best reviews of my career.”
Portnoy then closed the Artspace and entered what he dubs his “Binge Drinking” period, and promptly exhausted his funds. He has recently decided to reopen the gallery and take a new direction with his works, in order to finance his interests in alcohol.
“Since artistic appreciation has been entirely eclipsed by self-aggrandizing masturbation, I’m instituting a strictly bring-your-own-art policy. I can guarantee that there is absolutely nothing of any artistic merit in this gallery, and place any meaningful thought entirely in your stupid, stupid hands.
“I’ve got some ham radios going, I found some old posters in the trash, and I spilled some juice on the wall, so that should be good for now, but you might want more. So, if you’ve got some old shit you don’t need, just dump it down here. Old mattresses, paint cans, phone books – anything that’ll meet health codes, really. If you need some time away from the kids, drop ‘em off and we’ll keep them busy as an exhibit or something. If you need pot or shrooms, my cousin Josh should be back here from Vermont soon.”
Other artists are critical of Portnoy’s scepticism. FLOG, performance artist and long-time acquaintance of Portnoy, claims his change in attitude is the result of “piercing too far into the maddening depths of, and losing his intellectual bearing in, the whirl of ars universalis.” Portnoy responded to this claim by simply making reference to FLOG’s latest work, “Chuckie Qi”, wherein he manipulates marionette-styled Ken dolls engaging in sexually explicit actions on top of an Arby’s placemat.
Billionaire record producer and art collector David Geffen is more sympathetic to Portnoy’s iconoclastic take on today’s art. “We’ve argued the artist out of existence, we’ve argued the art out of existence, the only thing left is the wank, and there’s good money in that. More power to him.” Geffen, a frequent visitor to Portnoy’s gallery, has expressed interest in acquiring many of its new exhibits.
When asked about the directions he sees his gallery heading in the coming months and years, Portnoy is uncertain. “Probably a year or so of general disdain from the general public, yet endless praise from critics who refer to themselves in the fifth person. Then, after slowly filtering down through the subcultural hierarchy of college kids, I make it to small-share radio. Then, after some derogatory publicity in a national newspaper, the big time: MTV. Two months of flash-in-the-pan coolness, then I’m history, replaced with either a crasser British ripoff, or a more pleasant Canadian ripoff.”
“This, of course, is just speculation on my part,” concludes Portnoy. “If it goes how I’d like, I should have drunk myself into the pantheon of greats before the juice even stains the wall.”