Ownership…it sounds simple enough. You pick out a book, or a tool, or a service, or a slave, or a silver fork, ar a building lot . Find the price. (Here’s where it starts to get complicated fast). Check your wallet, bank account or bottom of your pocket and shell out. Or you start to negotiate. With the owner. Or the seller- who might be a pro at this, or just an interloper. But anyway you want to acquire something….so making the deal begins. Agreeing or disagreeing on what you pay and what you get for that payment has so many unexamined wrinkles. Let’s take a look into some of the deeper, and perhaps shallower ones.
Our neighbor, Magus, the material man himself, is in possession of a framed piece of painted canvas. He says it’s a work of art, created some time in the 20th century by the Spaniard Pablo Picasso. It’s hidden under a cloth wrapper. Are we in three card monte territory yet? Oh most definitely we are! A territory that according to all accounts the famed artist was something of an accredited professional explorer. Trickery, divinity and art are siblings, close enough to be fraternal triplets. An artist creates something that was not there before he or she, through some form of craft, caused it to become….to exist!
Looking at to the concealed work. All that’s to be observed Is a dusty cloth bundle. It’s resting on the floor of a gallery of either excellent copies, or original works of noted artists. The space itself is part of a setting designed to impress, intimidate, and silence the questions of the skeptic. Those who not only fail to be dazzled by so much pricey real estate, both fixed and moveable, but also find their trust but verify alarm bells buzzing out of control, are on alert. What’s really going on here? What’s real, and who is false. Who wants or needs such a vast quantity of material valuables of certifiably great quality? If wall street is the cathedral of money, this is the capital of the non hereditary monarchy of greed. It might look good, but the emotional and psychological tone is one of neediness. There just isn’t enough stuff to fill the empty and echoing space where the lack of positive emotional substance is so extensive.
Mr magus, it’s apparent,does not care one whit what the art looks like. It’s on view, boy remains unseen. It’s secrets are safe whether on the Wall or in a sack. Is it a part of the forest if no one is looking when the art falls off the wall? There’s no theme here, no passion, no vision, no human connection. The price tags are the entire story. The heavy frames are sized exactly for the Certificates of authenticity. the usual contrary working of an alert human consciousness meant
That many questions came to mind. The authenticity of the place, the people, and the bizarre situation, became suspect. Stepping into a theatre set, you look for the plot. Stepping into a bank vault, you keep an eye on the shelves, and on the exit. Is this Agatha Christie, or just Christies? The owner let’s call him Mr. Magus, avers, that the ouvre is too precious to be exposed to eyes other than highly trained certified experts to evaluate its authenticity. Mr Magus, it is one hundred percent certain, is himself that most curious of cultural artifacts, a real fake. Picasso, and his heirs as they licence the artist’s signature for the use of motor cars and wines, would understand. The art can’t be owned. The piece of cloth is for sale. The artist is, as he often portrayed himself, is a circus performer. A magician. A real maker of originals. An actual Magus. Maybe Mr. Fake Magus got his money’s worth. But he’s still not any closer to being even one real thread in the canvas of a real life. The distance between Being and owning is clear in the difference conveyed by I am a shipowner, and I own ships. Can you “own” Picasso? Owning a Picasso is being a buyer of Picasso’s, it’s not possible to buy or even own the ‘art’ part of what a Picasso painting is. The Sol LeWitt pattern of leasing a limited time share of a work of art, the ownership permanently in the hands of the creator’s estate is the model makes this concept clear.