Chapter the Second: Art is Dead
“What do you find beautiful?” the creep asked in a hypnotic yet unnerving voice. Sven thought that voice sounded way too patronizing and coercive. Like the voice of a child molester stalking his pray. Can you meet me at the mall? Oh and wear your school uniform, okay? Plus, there was a strange quality to it brought by an accent that Sven couldn’t quite place.
But a patron was a patron, and from what Sven could tell, this guy was loaded. He inferred this from the Armani suits, the immaculately manicured nails, and of coarse, the private gallery which Sven was now auditioning to be featured in. Initialy, Sven had met this patron (soon to be known as “the creep” when Sven thought of him) at a party among the social elite. The who’s-who of the local art scene. Everyone seemed familiar with the creep. Whether it was his wealth or his intense, youthful looks that drew people to the creep Sven wasn’t sure. One thing was for sure, this guy was like a primal, preternatural force, and it unnerved Sven so bad he almost hadn’t bothered to show up for this interview, which had been arranged by the creep out of the blue after just a few minutes of cocktail-party conversation. Sven was gonna milk the creep for all he was worth and maybe put the weirdo in his place while he was at it. “Beauty? Beauty is irrelevant. I have transcended such base concepts. I make art.”
“Oh? Beauty is irrelevant?“ The creep’s thick eyebrows arched in mock surprise. He sighed. “Well… you might as well show me your work.”
“Okay.” Sven flicked on the projector. Somehow, the lights dimmed on their own. Sven figured that the creep probably had someone working in another room, looking through the security cameras and waiting for cues. This guy was definitely loaded.
“I’m waiting,” said the creep in a sickly-sweet tone.
“Ahem. Right.” Sven clicked in the first slide. This is untitled number 25. It’s a piece about the banality of--”
“Stop.” The creep had switched to a very severe tone. “Are you telling me the title is ‘untitled’?”
“Um, yeah. Untitled number 25.”
“You know, I have seen a lot of art over the years. More than you can imagine. I can’t recall exactly who started this trend of calling works of art ‘untitled’ or ‘untitled in blue’ or --saints preserve us-- ‘untitled number 25,’ but it has never sat well with me on many levels. What does it say about your faith in a work to not give it the dignity of a title?”
“Uh, well, the post-modernists--”
“And isn’t it ultimately a contradiction in terms? ‘Untitled is still a title, is it not?” The creep jumped up from his chair and was in front of the screen with an alacrity that confused Sven. The creep continued, “Perhaps it is supposed to be clever? And speaking of the pretentious, let’s talk about what I see on the screen here.”
Sven had had enough of this prick. This commission obviously wasn’t going to happen, so he decided to at least give a good insult while he had a chance. “Hey fu--” But his mouth was stilled by an unknown force. The creep now had his back to Sven and was a dark form studying the picture, which showed an instillation mainly consisting of black and red paint, with doll-parts liberally sprinkled in for good measure.
“You will not be speaking anymore,” said the now cool voice in response to Sven’s unvoiced question. All the seductiveness was gone. The creep was no longer that sleazy-type of guy that unnerved with his otherworldly qualities and familiar tones, he was just plain scary now. “I didn’t invite you to my gallery to show me your work anyways. I have only cursory interest in it. I could tell, from the way that you walked and talked the night I met you, that you were a poseur.
“It makes me feel better though, to confirm that stopping you from producing further art will not be any great loss. Look at this composition. Why, it is not a composition at all! Black and red? Tell me, did you wet the bed until you were twelve? I don’t doubt that you did. How droll. And the doll parts? It’s been done so many times I can hardly count. In fact, there is not one original aspect to your work at all. More to the point, there is no beauty.”
The creep turned around, his, pale skin flush with rage. And those eyes of his, once a beautiful and alluring almond brown, now yellow, and seeming to glowing with an inner fire. Combined with his curly auburn hair and the halo of light churned forth from the projector, the creep’s features made him resemble at this moment an angel of death out of a William Blake print. Sven wanted to go ape and scamper out of here if he had to knock over his own grandma to do it. But he could not move. Sweat started to trickle into his eyes. He couldn’t even blink. Could not rip his pupils from this horrific figure.
“All humans are the same. You do what has been done before. You put a urinal on a pedestal, sign it, and call it art. It’s sickening. Each human thinks he is better than the last, smarter, more clever. They are not. Each human thinks that the totality of events in history has been leading to his birth; that they are the most important person to come along; that humans are the apex of evolution. Each person thinks he is the best; that he is a god among men. Well you are not. You are not what art has been leading to. You are not the first one to think of your clever little ideas. You have not made any new discoveries. You are not at the top of the food chain.”
The creep had moved faster than Sven could track again. Now the creep--what was his real name? Sven couldn’t even remember that now. --was behind him, leaning unnervingly close to Sven’s ear. When the creep spoke again, his seductive tone had returned, and he spoke in a quiet voice.
“Look at the state of you. Overcome by my simplest cantrip. Sven outdone by Svengali. You are not special. I haven’t seen a real artist in a generation. No. You are not unique. You are like all the rest of them. Cattle. Nay, less than that. Ants. I will show you beauty still exists, that you may begin to fathom your folly. Pay attention, you are to be a participant in an impromptu piece of performance art. I call it, ‘a study in sanguine humor.’ The reference will probably be lost on you, but I digress. Shall we begin?”
That said, the creep bit into Sven’s neck. All Sven could manage was a squeak. The creep lifted his now-bloodied face for a moment. “Pay attention to this moment. Listen to the song of your little heart beating frantically. Feel the sensation of your life leaving you. That is art.” Thus said, the monster went back to tearing at Sven’s neck with preternaturally sharp canines.