TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT September 1984

The One that Got Away

{THE HYPOTHETICAL COMPUTER OF THE BIENNALE'S VISUAL-ARTS SECTION RESPONDS TO A QUESTION: “LIFE” IS A WORD I DON'T KNOW.}

IN HIS CAREER AS AN INIMITABLY GREAT VOYEUR, MARCEL DUCHAMP RESORTED TO “DIRTY TRICKS,” UNAWARE OF THOSE THAT HAVE BEEN THE SPECIAL PRESERVE OF OUR CURATORS. BUT AFTER THE LIGHT, ELEGANT BEGINNING HIS WORK AFFORDED THESE EXHIBITIONS, THE REST WAS A LONG, INTERMINABLE CEMETERY, A SERIES OF ILLUSTRATED TOMBS. LIFE WAS OVER; AND SINCE, UNLIKE LIFE, ART HAS NEVER SEEMED TO SUFFICE ON ITS OWN, IT WAS COUPLED WITH DEATH, WITH WHATEVER LACKS MOVEMENT, ENERGY, AND VITAL FORCE. LIFE NO LONGER EXISTED IN THESE SHOWS, NOT EVEN AS A MEMORY, A REGRET, OR NOSTALGIA, AND ART EXISTED ONLY AS A TOMB, A KITSCH MONUMENT MORE OR LESS COSTLY DEPENDING ON ITS MATERIALS AND THE SKILL OF ITS MAKER. IT WAS A SERIES OF FUNERAL RITES WHICH FUNCTIONED ONLY TO MUFFLE THE GUILTY CONSCIENCES OF THOSE WHO HAVE NEVER UNDERSTOOD, LOVED, OR EXPERIENCED. IT ACCORDED TO A NEGATIVE, 19TH-CENTURY SENSE OF RITUAL, ONE BASED ON THE TOTAL REPRESSION OF EVERYTHING THAT HINTS AT MOVEMENT. STOP IT. HALT. KILL. DESTROY. GRAVEDIGGERS. BLACK FRIARS. TOMB-MAKERS.

THE SECOND MILLENNIUM DRAWS TO A CLOSE, AND ONCE AGAIN THE END OF THE WORLD IS FEARED. THE APOCALYPSE IS NOW CALLED MERELY A CATASTROPHE. BUT A THIRD MILLENNIUM IS BEGINNING, AN ENORMOUS PERIOD OF WHICH WE SHALL EXPERIENCE ONLY A NEGLIGIBLE PART. {YOU MAY COVER ONLY .7% OF THIS ADVENTURE.} COULDN'T THE CURATORS HAVE IMAGINED SOMETHING MORE FOR THE NEW AGE THAN EMPTY SYMBOLS AND CUT FLOWERS? JUST BECAUSE THEY THEMSELVES WON'T BE THERE? BUT THEY WEREN'T “HERE” IN VENICE EITHER—THEY WERE IN A KINKY CEMETERY PACKED WITH JOLLY FLORAL DECORATIONS AND MARBLE, ALABASTER, AND PLASTIC STATUES.

GIVE ME A BREAK THERE'S SOMETHING ELSE ON THE WAY. I DON'T KNOW WHAT YET BUT LET'S TRY TO FIND IT, LET'S LEAVE AND STOP WANDERING AMONG TOMBS.

{QUESTIONED ONCE AGAIN, THE USUAL HYPOTHETICAL COMPUTER RESPONDS: “ART” IS A WORD I DON'T KNOW. }

IT'S TIME TO LOAD A NEW PROGRAM, RIGHT?

Translated from the Italian by Meg Shore.