The Emperors New Art

13 May
The Emperors New Art

A conversation between an art gallery assistant and curator, based completely on fiction and not on any real, publicly funded, art gallery in the north-east of England.

“I’ve been looking forward to this exhibition. You guys seemed to be really excited in the office. Gold trimmed Opening invites!”

“This is really a big deal for us. We’ve got national press coverage, television coverage, and the artist is going to be doing a walkthrough of the exhibition with the VIP’s.”

“Who are the VIP’s?”

“Wealthy and influential people from outside of the town. You know the type.  Businessmen, Councillors, and what have you. We need their donations more than ever to offset the council cuts to our budgets. “

“Cool, I guess I won’t be able to bring my girlfriend on the opening evening if I don’t get one of those fancy invites?”

“Sure you can. Between me and you the invites are supposed to be a bit of a false perk for donating to the gallery, but we’re a public institution so we can’t turn anyone away. Bring her; there will be canapés and wine.”

“Thanks. So where’s the first item? Someone ran off with it already?”

“Your stood next to it.”

“Its a box.”


“An empty, plain, see through box.”

“Yes. Fascinating isn’t it? Really speaks to you.”

“Seriously, is there something supposed to be inside it?”

“There is! That’s the clever part. Read the description.”

This container holds a one foot by one foot section of the atmosphere. It contains, amongst other gases – Nitrogen, Oxygen, Hydrogen, and Carbon Dioxide...”

“Can’t believe we nearly missed out on this in the bidding to Sheffield!”

“Uh, neither can I…  Wait, is this made out of the acrylic I saw in the Technicians workshop?”

“Yeah, he’s been making it all week. Cracked two of them and had to start again.”

“Let me get this straight. You outbid another gallery for the rights to the idea for an empty box.. sorry a box with ‘atmosphere’.  It isn’t even the original object made by the artist. It’s made by Peter in his workshop. And you are going to use this to attract donations from the well to do?”

“Hey the idea doesn’t take up space in our collection. We can keep that on a computer and make the art whenever we want it for display.”

“Wow, thats really… weird. Could you not have saved the thousands you spent on the rights to this idea and displayed any of the millions of pounds worth of art already in our collections out of public view?”

“Don’t be silly! This is a modern art gallery at the leading edge of the industry. We can’t start showing objects just because people want to see them. We have reputations to maintain. We’re even thinking of selling some of that old stuff to help us commission new works…”

“Like that collection of line drawing last year?”

“Exactly. We’ve worked out that if we sell some of the paintings and close one or two of the smaller museums we can plug the funding we’re losing from the council and central government. When the museums close, all their visitors will surely come here then and that will definitely help us hit our attendance targets.”

“You really think they will close popular museums to keep this place open?”

“Of course, we’re the flagship of the town!”

Image: graur razvan ionut /


Posted by on May 13, 2011 in Duologue


Tags: , , ,

4 responses to “The Emperors New Art

  1. Virginia Moffatt

    May 13, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    This has a very sad truth to it. Bleakly funny…

    • EZE

      May 14, 2011 at 11:23 am

      Thanks for stopping by virginia. It was such a joy to post a completed flash after so long working on my degree. Hope to post more regularly now.

  2. J. M. Strother

    May 14, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    I can see this conversation actually happening.

    Congrats on the degree, and welcome back.

  3. johnwiswell

    May 17, 2011 at 2:00 am

    Sorry I’m late to this one, Chris. Been a hectic weekend. A deal of silly pretension that wouldn’t go this way, but possesses real intentions. A deal of nonsense fills up many galleries…

    I caught a couple minor typos-
    Para9 “Your” for “You”
    Para10 “Its” for “It’s”


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