Karsten, What are You Doing?by Roger White
Central Park, the intersection of a path through the Ramble and the 79th Street Transverse Road. Afternoon. WHITE approaches from the east, KREJKAREK from the north. Krejkarek holds one end of a blue ribbon; the other is tied around the tail of a lobster.
WHITE: Karsten, what are you doing?
KREJKAREK: I’m taking my lobster for a walk.
WHITE: You can’t do that.
KREJKAREK: Nerval did, in the Palais-Royal.
WHITE: Won’t it suffocate?
KREJKAREK: [reaches into his tote bag and pulls out a plastic spray bottle] Saltwater. I spritz him every few minutes and he’s fine.
WHITE: What is the meaning of this?
KREJKAREK: I’m interested in time.
WHITE: I don’t get it.
KREJKAREK: Do you know how long it takes a lobster to walk from 57th Street to the Great Lawn?
KREJKAREK: Neither do I.
WHITE: Is this a piece?
KREJKAREK: Yes and no.
WHITE: Do you consider it a political act?
KREJKAREK: If there is a politics left to art, it is the politics of time. The failure of utopian thought was to frame the problem in terms of space. We need to think uchronically. I will follow this lobster into a different modality of temporal experience. New possibilities for action may arise.
WHITE: This disturbs me.
KREJKAREK: Please explain.
WHITE: I’ve just come from the Biennial, where most of the art was time-based. I had an hour and a half to see the show. All I saw were empty rooms with Xeroxed notices telling me I’d missed the art.
KREJKAREK: That’s an exaggeration. Why didn’t you plan your visit better?
WHITE: Who has the time? And durational art makes the situation worse. Only the leisure class can experience it.
KREJKAREK: This smacks of resentment. Why not examine your commitment to the object?
WHITE: Art encodes the expenditure of time, for appropriation by those who already have too much. Is it any wonder that Christian Marclay’s The Clock is the most popular art film in the world?
KREJKAREK: Roger that’s reductive, not to mention boring. You’re just cheesed off because you’re a painter. Critique also reiterates the logic of the dominant order. What matters is to keep moving. If you can’t accept that then you will never understand contemporary art. Look. It’s a beautiful day. Come to the Great Lawn with me and my lobster.
WHITE: I can’t, I have to go. I’m on a deadline.
KREJKAREK: Your loss.
WHITE: Yeah, probably.
They walk away.
ROGER WHITE is a painter and an editor of the journal Paper Monument.