Me and Morry: My Pretend Affair with a Publishing Legend
I’m having an affair with Morry Schwartz. A Pretend Affair. The project explores the tenuous links, the under-explored nether regions that straddle conceptual art and stalking. Part of a trilogy about power, this third, and final instalment follows previous stalking operations performed on Maurizio Cattelan 1999, and Jacques Derrida 1998. I call the work The Artist, the Philosopher and the Publisher. So Morry is in very good company when he’s with me.
I don’t know yet whether my work is channelling out of my unconscious, my sub-conscious or if it has no conscience at all. You see lately, I’ve been thinking about what constitutes an artwork and what constitutes a crime. I’ve been thinking about authority, about independence and disobedience; about hopelessness and resignation. About who always wins and who loses. And I’ve been thinking too, about how these traits play out within the established character of the Australian larrikin. About how we presume the larrikin to be a man, but larrikin women are acting out now, playing the larrikin card because it’s our’s to play. And we’ve nothing to lose.
“I do not understand laws,” Arthur Rimbaud, the first ever punk, wrote in 1873, defining the attitude of the renegade artist. “I have no moral sense. I am a brute.” See, I read that and wondered what the female word for brute is? Maybe Brutess… “Et tu Brutess?”
Look, a lot of workers within the arts community will be like: Nat is just chasing Morry because he’s rich. Nat is a relentless gold digger. And that’s all true, but it’s also sour grapes because they didn’t think of it first. Really, it’s a bit of a no-brainer, conceptually speaking: seduce the husband, I mean pretend-seduce the husband of one of Australia’s most influential art dealers who, btw, should be representing me. That’ll get Anna’s attention. She’ll want to represent me once I’ve pretend-seduced her husband. Then, I can ascend into the heavens. The Art heavens. Problems solved. Oh, and Morry is a publisher, and I write, so like, HELLO!
A long-term member of the Anna Schwartz stable once remarked, that I hadn’t been more supported within my art career because I’d always seemed so very capable. She thought that I needed to ask the right people for help. I guess that’s what Me and Morry: My Pretend Affair with a Publishing Legend is also about. It’s about asking the right people for help, albeit in a Glenn Close/Bunny Boiler/Basic Instinct kind of way. I just reckon the crazed, hysterical woman, denied her desires, pushed to the edge of sanity, doing everything in her goddammed power to succeed, is a comedically under-explored trope within popular culture. And I just love me a bit a kulture. Pop kulture. Innit!
Conservatism has us all surrounded and well, it’s stifling my creative urges. Poor Morry. Morry has got to save me and my family. I want to play some Latin music so Me and Morry, we can pretend slow dance together, a dance of embrace and pretend pretend resistance. A graceful dance, an expectant dance.
A while back I heard that music is emotion and I was so jealous of musicians, because I knew art didn’t touch the emotions nearly as well as it should. Well it didn’t, until I thought up my project Me and Morry: My Pretend Affair with a Publishing Legend. I can touch emotions in a way that should be illegal already. Why isn’t emotional art more of a thing? I blame patriarchy. Men don’t like expressing emotion, and maybe they have a point, cause once you’ve pulled that particular bunny out of your hat, it’s a difficult job to stuff her back in.
Me and Morry isn’t just about pretend sex, it speaks too to the desperate situation of most artists. Not the successful ones, the artists we’re always reading about represented by Anna Schwartz for instance, but the ones like me; flailing around, failing to trend. The artists that the creative industries exploit, with their carrot dangling. Stop dangling your carrot on my face. I’m weary of having my cultural contribution minimized, being marginalized by a lack of success. Rebelling against the established status quo is exhausting. I surrender. Now I want in. It’s time for me to share my godgiven gifts, not just with hot young musicians with perfect timing, but with rich old men with no timing.
I want a change now. I want to taste power and influence. Monopolistic power and influence. I want to be included in the cultural canon. I want to work inside the established order, not waste more time taking pot shots from the edge. I’m like totally over the art world fickleness narrative, with its Machiavellian sub-narratives, and the sense that it’s like, totally stitched up. I want to move on up. I want one of those cushy jobs lecturing art out at Monash University. And I’m pretty sure you need to be affiliated with, no, amalgamated with the Anna Schwartz Gallery to get one. I want to be a Board Member; I want to be a Trustee at one of the big, flush art galleries that all the Anna Schwartz artists sit on. That must be informative. A bit like insider trading really, getting to know what’s going to happen, before it happens, but that’s just business, I realize that now. I want to be in the Buxton Collection, I want to have a great big outdoor sculpture by the side of that highway that Transfield built. Sure, I’m a victim of my own reckless ambition. Sure, I’ve misinterpreted the self improvement books I’ve had my head stuck in these last months, the ones that help guide you to where you want to go, whatever it takes. But look, everyone is addicted to suckcess, I mean success, and if you don’t achieve success, well that’s on you, innit! I can’t be working poor no more. I want to be financially compensated for my mental energy. The trickle down isn’t trickling down. And drastic times call for drastic measures.
For it needs little skill in psychology to be sure that a highly gifted girl who had tried to use her gift for poetry would have been so thwarted and hindered by other people, so tortured and pulled asunder by her won contrary instincts, that she might have lost her health and sanity to a certainty. Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
Now I know my change my heart, my ‘I’m having a pretend affair with Morry Schwartz now, so all the doors to the kingdom have flung open to me’, will be criticised. I’ll be seen as just another dissatisfied, seething woman, switching up her political stance for self-interest, but the thing is, I’m so bored and hungry, I don’t even care. I’m unapologetic. Sorry. The days of my political naivety are behind me. I’ve finally woken up in the real world, and now I want to wrestle with the big boys. Pretend wrestle.
My female rebellion shouldn’t be perceived as occurring at the expense of my family or Morry’s family. That’s in your own head, not my crotch. Since Ashley Madison got hacked, if you’re in a cheat with someone powerful and busy, you know its best to be up front about what’s going down. Its secrecy and lies that destroy families, not honesty and discretion, like what I have in spades. It could look like a radical action, getting immersed in a pretend affair with a publishing legend, but I’m actually being well considerate. I’ve put all my cards on the table in saying what I want and why. I watched ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’, and I thought, no I don’t want to marry a millionaire, I just want to play with him a bit, like a cat with a rich mouse. Marriage is a bad deal for women.
‘Why does nat contest that it doesn’t matter what her Morry fan art actually looks like?’ you may be asking yourself. Well, like all conceptual art it doesn’t look that good, but that’s the point. It doesn’t have to. Conceptual art is a heady aphrodisiac. What will you see? An image of Morry. Young Morry from a photo taken by Carol Jerrems, sits in the foreground, his intelligent eyes meeting my, I mean our, gaze. Behind Morry is a mountain. Morry is going to take me over that Mountain. The mountain has been rendered in nail polish. Polish like I might wear to go meet Morry. It’s a dreamscape with an idealised sunset. A fantasy landscape on which our love can prosper. As I jab away with the nail polish, layer upon layer, adding the five letters of his name, just above the clouds, I inhale deeply, the pungent toner, the solvent, filling my lungs. And I hallucinate about Me and Morry, my pretend affair with a publishing legend. I trip out on my uneasy, emotional, irrational art projects.
‘Is this even art? Isn’t it more a crazy-assed story in an artists head, a crap painting, a shell covered arm stretching out to a pretend lover, and a slingshot. And the answer to this is: yes and yes. It’s art based on the highly probable possibility of failure. Then put through an irrational filter, that being the artists mind but intimately, I mean ultimately, this art addresses a very human experience. Failure.
I’ve not based my rebellion on singularly sexual terms either, my defiance is deeper than that. Because it’s a conceptual affair. I don’t really have to have an affair with Morry, I’m not Samantha off Sex and the City, I’m badder than that. This is just a pretend-invitation for Morry to join me in pretend-bed, albeit one that is fleshed out in enough detail that you, my poor Beloved Audience, may well regret being privy to. See, I’ve graduated myself into an exciting new phase within my creative life, it’s one I refer to as LaLa Land.
I’m not trying to mask a rapidly approaching mid-career demise by masquerading behind trendy conceptual ‘life-art’. No, I’m going to keep living it, giving it my all, at least until the restraining order arrives. What is the point of no return? That’s an interesting question. The artistic act can best perhaps be carried out in language. Seductive, twisted, cajoled language, that’s the premise. See I looked for Morry on Facebook, but he wasn’t there. So occasionally I message Anna instead. To touch base. To remind her of me. It’s strangely like being with him, talking to his wife. We both roll our eyes about him:
“Oh that Morry!”
I don’t want to defy the status quo, nor dilute it. I want to make pretend love to it. All pretend night long. I want to pretend defile it, that strong, turgid status quo. Till it explodes into a mess of cultural ecstasy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4Jupk-YfD8 1 hour, The Net Effect: An Optimist in the News Business. Morry speaking at Melbourne University
https://busprojects.org.au/2016/07/09/more-jokes/ More Jokes, at Bus till 20 August 2016, Claire Harris, Siliga David Setoga, Nick Kleindienst, Natalie Thomas, David McDiarmid, Makiko Yamamoto, Richard Bell, curated by Zara Sigglekow.