Who Knew Construction Workers Look Kinda Like Performance Artists?

I love my job. I am an artist (I hope up and coming) who works in a fine arts gallery where all kinds of interesting things happen. You never know what to expect from day to day. Artists come in toting their new work in the hopes of getting interest in a show. Patrons love to see the new art and discussions with them are always interesting. We talk about collecting and what motivates a particular purchase. Some people stick with paintings, others with works on paper. Still more three-dimensional objects. They show me photos of their homes and offices in the hope that I will comment positively. I would never be negative and deter a client from making a new acquisition. I don’t always love everything on display, but as far as sales go, everything is wonderful. There is an art to selling art to put it mildly. I am not trying to be funny. I want to get better at it so I can expand my current duties at the gallery which entail computer documentation, mounting shows, and processing mail.

One of the discussions that I have with clients from time to time is how you cannot collect or even capture performance art. This kind of art is ephemeral. Something occurs for one moment only. The artist conceives of the art work as more of a process than something tangible. Only photographs can document what happens. It is hard for some collectors to get into this experience but more and more people are coming to understand it. You can be very surprised what is appropriately called performance art. A famous artist long ago shot himself in the arm to make a political statement about weapons. Another wraps buildings and fences. The covering is only there for a short time and thus the work is a statement about time and change. I am fascinated by this kind of vision that is rather philosophical.

Feeling this way about performance art, you can imagine what I was thinking when I entered the gallery one day and found a few “artists” using an air compressor. What a great idea for performance art, I thought. This is really something different. Boy was I wrong. In front of me were two construction workers making some repairs to the space. I had mistaken them for performance artists. It just goes to show you that anything goes in the contemporary art world. My boss, the gallery director, had mentioned upgrades or that anyone would be coming. I had fooled myself which was rather embarrassing, but fortunately I hadn’t mentioned by misassumption to anyone else. They would have had a good laugh, unless they were caught in the same dilemma.

Let’s hear it for performance art as a viable modern form of expression. Let’s welcome new artists, but let’s also be sure of their status. I won’t be caught unaware the next time around.