Studio. Goldsmiths’ College.
All the same I was ill at ease: I avoid looking at the freshly primed canvas. I look above, below, right and left: but the canvas itself I don’t want to see. And I know very well that the students around me can’t help me in any way: it is too late, and I can no longer take refuge among them. They would come and slap me on the back and say to me: ‘Well, what’s special about that canvas?’ It’s just like all the others. It’s flat, and it has a brownish fibrous surface and is coated with rabbit skin glue, and it has been stretched across a wooden support. I know all that, but there’s something else. Almost nothing. But I can no longer explain what I see. To anybody.
I am beginning to believe that nothing can ever be painted. Not a single glimmer comes from the canon’s direction. Slow, lazy, sulky, the images adapt themselves at a pinch to the order I wish to give them, but they remain fake. I have the impression of the canon as a construct of pure imagination. And even so, I am certain that using soap as a ground would appear more realistic, or in any case would be more amusing. There it is: I am gently slipping into the water’s depths.
Two days before hanging the Goldsmiths' College undergraduate degree show.
The scene: 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”
“You’ve thrown away a ‘first’”
“I want to be free”
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 East Coast... but it is only the sound of a passing truck bouncing over a bump in the road.