Nick Fudge seated before his painting postModern Eternity, 1988 Photo: Nick de Ville
June 1988. Two days before hanging the degree show. The scene: the mechanics of delay.
And suddenly the action resumes, without warning, and the same scene occurs again ... But which scene? There is a young man dragging several large canvases to a skip, though they appear presciently post-Modern it is hard to tell exactly which styles have been stolen in such dim light. It is equally impossible to say with any certainty what the following scene signifies. What is certain, on the other hand, is that he is carrying out some hasty and secret operation... tearing and smashing up canvases, or else kicking and throwing them in a frenzy of wild gesticulations into the skip, the ones he had previously been carrying which he now wanted rid of…
The violence has calmed down; all that can be heard is breathing which gradually fades into the silence of the Millard building.
Jon asks the student why he is not hanging his show, but Nick continues listening without a word, only breathing, his eyes fixed on the future immaterial beauty of Death Valley, an image from which he cannot tear his vision, in the detached expectation of what would happen next.The student makes up his mind to answer, but without taking his eyes off the future desertification of all things. The tone of his voice is that of discrete, neutral commentary, “I’m acting on my intuition” “But where are your paintings?” “They’ve been destroyed” “Destroyed? Matisse? Picasso?” “Thrown in the skip” “Pollock?” “Trashed” “You’ve thrown away a ‘first’” “I want to be free” “You’re mad.” And suddenly the action resumes, without warning, with Michael Craig-Martin’s footsteps, hurrying footsteps coming closer and closer, faster and faster, nearer and nearer, until he is right there in the room, and at this moment a loud noise of broken glass gives them a start. They turn their heads in the same movement in the direction of the American west...But it is only the sound of a passing truck bouncing over a bump in the road...
Nick Fudge photographed wearing Braque's military uniform while working for The London Underground, 1988 Photo: Nick Fudge
In conclusion, I hope that this mediocrity, conditioned by too many factors foreign to art per se, will this time bring a revolution on the ascetic level, of which the general public will not even be aware and which only a few initiates will develop on the fringe of a world blinded by economic fireworks. The artists of tomorrow will go underground*
* Marcel Duchamp Address to a symposium at the Philadelphia Museum College of Art,March 1961