Saturday, November 13, 2004

"Anyway, why can't we race for real? Why all this phony grimace stuff?"

The roughewn vagabond is speaking to the press. He was hired off the street by a visiting art consortium, Institut d'Art, to ride a bicycle around a tight course of city streets. Various painters and portraitists sat along the way and worked on images from the circuit.

The Institut d'Art had great success in Paris and Brussels and London, but were running into trouble in Dallas. The press was on the trail, and controversy as always followed. Some of the participants were quite willing to oblige the news industry. Yes, yes, they understood the message, we are sorely abused by these foreigners.

The press agent for the Institute protested, `But it was never meant to be a race. It is theatre, it is a means of capturing expression on the fly. We make use of the outcasts of a community in order to display certain emotions the normal social constraints forbid to citizens within the pyramid.'

`Look, we take these rabble out of the gutter. We dry them out, fit them with shiny new bike togs, and teach them to ride. All they do for their twelve dollars an hour is ride those bikes in a circle. We ask them to conceive of their lot in life, their grievances, and the artists attempt to capture that at game speed. That is all. There have been very well-attended showings all over Europe, accompanied by the raves of famed art critics...'

`Yes, but why do you not allow them to race for real? Are you not making fools of these unfortunates? Isn't it a lot like dressing senile old men in childish paper hats for birthday celebrations at the nursing home?'

The show was closed down in Texas, and the rest of the tour canceled. The Institut d'Art still operates in Europe, and has moved to Tokyo and Istanbul, with very favorable results. There is a showing now in the Prada.

There are no plans for another American tour.

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