Overheard @ the Opening

“The global diaspora has enormous implications for a world economy linked by a thick web of transnational flows of capital and labour. Globalization  …”
He stopped mid-sentence as he saw her rolling her eyes at him. He could have strangled her then and there. Instead he gave her his best smile and looked her straight in the eyes and continued, unperturbed where he left off,
“Globalization, is all about deterritorialization of social identity …”
She walked off and headed to the bar as he drooled on to a captive audience of three, including the house terrier and his own reflection in the mirror. She could not stand hearing any of his theories on globalization and migrants yet again.

The gallery was packed with people, as it always was on those opening nights. It was as always filled with the same crowd uttering the same inanities with a sense of holy and unparalleled importance.

– “Maybe China just banned it because it was bad.”

– “I honestly had no idea there were so many unattractive people in the art world. How nice and unpretentious.”

As she walked through it, she heard bits and pieces of conversations.

– “He’s not the first one to steal stuff and put it in a gallery.”

– “Damn, she looks like she’s getting married AND divorced”

– “I don’t know how I feel about my selfie right now”

She felt slightly nauseous hearing them. She had made quite a name for herself in the Art world over the last twenty years. In fact she had done so well in the art scene, that she actually had become *the scene*. She was the architect and marionettist. She made things happen or not and made or killed an artist’s hopes with a mere twitch of her mouth.

Tonight she just could not take it anymore. None of it. Not the people, not the artists and even less her husband who always felt left out on her opening nights, sulked and cornered whoever passed his way to share whichever political theory and or conspiracy he was busying himself with at that particular moment. He, of course, preferred to choose those of her guests who mattered, those potential great clients she had had to work hard to get and who rarely came back after an evening with him.

– “I’m just so glad Shaquille O’Neal is a curator now.”

She glanced over towards where she had left her husband moments ago to her horror saw what she had most dreaded unfold in front of her powerless eyes. He had caught the client she had most counted on.
On her way to the bar she was stopped and spun by an acquaintance who seemed very happy to see her. All she could notice was the said acquaintance stale breath and her fake boobs as she held her in an embrace too close for comfort. Spun by the acquaintance, she was now facing the back of the room again. Her eyes locked into those of her husband’s, who gave her a smirk, a wink, and an almost imperceptible lifted middle finger as he lifted his hand to put it around the bank director’s shoulders. He walked off with his new prey, but turned around and with his devilish smirk, gave her the throat slicing gesture.

That was the end. They both knew he had won again. The man was his. He would buy nothing. Naught.

– “Well I guess that was his wife with him, since he usually stops and talks all over me.”

– “It’s a strange time in the art world.”

To make matters worse, the works she was exhibiting were abhorrent to her. The only reason she had accepted to show this artist was pure financial pressure. The specimen was a nightmare hot from the oven of that new generation of self-proclaimed artists born from blasé parents who were themselves too spoiled and lazy to bother about the educational side of being a parent, refusing to grow up or old and investing all they had into filling their monsters with a sense of self-pride and entitlement that made it impossible for them to relate to any other human being other than with the biggest disdain.

– “I’m not drunk enough for this.”

– “Is he as cute as his art?”

Before she finished her first triple sec, she ordered another one. She was having a bad day. She had been having bad days for months now. She had been so busy planning her revenge, it had taken precedence over everything she did, her life and her work and she was beginning to pay the price now.

As she sat at the bar she contemplated her reflection in her drink. She still looked very good “for her age”. But she knew exactly the price for that. And because of that she felt entitled to as many drinks as she wanted tonight. She had earned it.

– “Why are there so many art shows?”

– “If there’s people, there must be art.”

He would not get this client. He could go sulk elsewhere. Who was he anyway and what did he understand about life and arts?

She was starting to feel lighter as her strength and self-assurance crept back in her. She was a winner. She felt it. He, on the other hand, was but a failed artist reconverted into an insurance salesman. He had been at her neck ever since the day she had refused to exhibit his works in her gallery. There was no way she would ever agree to show paintings of dead felines being raped by barbarella-esque amazons. Art school had rejected him, twenty years before she did. If it comforted her, it enraged him so, he decided to wage war on her.

For the last year and a half, he had kept himself busy doing everything in his power to sabotage her and her gallery. Sometimes he would miss work to harass a client or two. He did it all with an elegance and wit, she never knew he possessed. It took her a relatively long time to understand what was happening and react accordingly to the drastic drop in sales and the awful press reviews.

At first she had blamed the market, the crisis in the Middle East – it was always the best excuse – the Chinese – quite a good excuse too, the right, the left, anything and anyone. By the last bad review she had known. She had understood it was him. His doing. And so a full-fledged Frozen War had begun at the Wright-Davidson household. Everything was allowed. The lowest blows, the cheapest indignities, the most vicious ignominies. There were no rules but one: none of the parties could admit to the other they were at war and when in public they had to pretend all was for the best in the best of worlds.
Until tonight. Tonight was different: if she lost that client, she lost the gallery. The client was not only a bank director from a very influential family, he also happened to be the owner of one of the major media groups in the world. If she lost him to him, she would go down and under.

– “She wants me to be in a piece. She asked me if I’d roll around naked in menstrual blood, and I said ‘yes.’”

She ordered another triple. Her fourth or fifth in under twenty minutes, drank it and started feeling her hair curl up on her head and her chest fill up with proud determination. She set a foot on the ground, found it less stable than a few minutes ago, held herself at the bar. Sat down again and after a sniff and a seemingly proud head swing she looked at the barman with what she thought was her sexiest look and … ordered another triple. As she was scheming on the best way to humiliate her husband and get her client back, she missed the high chair by half a centimeter as she tried to sit back on.
She fell on the floor with as much grace as duck posing as a swan. “For her age” the barman was astonished at the speed and agility with which she got back on her feet. The look she thought was her sexiest had not left her face during or after the fall. The barman could not suppress a little laugh. Her hair was dishevelled and her right elbow was bruised. Her blouse had untucked from her skirt which now stood at a strange angle.
Unaware of it all she resumed her seating, and ordered another drink before finishing hers.

– “I just went to the art fairs on Instagram this year.”

– “I hate young artists.”

There now was a loud thumping inside her head and she knew she had gotten herself drunk beyond the ‘artsy’ acceptable.

She knew she would not get this client back. She knew she had lost, client and gallery. She knew there would be no pity in the press the next day, she knew they would tear her down, dig deep in her wrinkles and fake twitter accounts, they would re-earth her past deals with the mob, the one stolen painting she sold to an enemy government, the lots of statues she had bought from this or that war-torn country, under the pretense it was to safeguard the said country’s heritage, the ivory she was still selling under cover, sometimes together with the Trump’s son’s pictures of himself and his preys.

What bothered her even more though was that she knew they would see through the Photoshop and would happily crucify her on the cross of self-hate and pettiness she had unknowingly built herself for the last twenty years.
She stumbled to get up from her chair, her vision was blurry, her mind was very clear. She had to go to Gonzague and tell him she still loved him, even if he had failed every single one of his endeavours in life, even if the only success he had ever had in life was to ruin her career. Even if the scope of his ambitions, apart from becoming the ultimate failed artists he became, never went beyond serving tables and even that he had failed when no restaurant would employ him after he ruined his reputation and burned himself for insulting and assaulting clients. After that, he had had to reconvert into the online life insurance salesman that he was.

Truth is, he excelled at that job. He had the knack to convince people life was not worth living and rather than leave their wealth to their loved ones they should rather leave it all to the insurance company. He was atrocious and people loved it when dealing with their own death.

She stood up to go and greet him, him and her lost client. She was smiling now. She had lost it all and was not unhappy. She abhorred this world and these fake artists anyway. She had wanted to quit for a while but had been so engrossed in her game against Gonzague that she had had no time to quit. Finally she could leave with her head high and go live the rest of her life in hiding in some remote village of Papua New Guinea. Twenty years and fifty minor plastic interventions later, she felt happier than she could ever remember being. She stood up and started walking towards Gonzague when something or someone or nothing gripped her loose sleeve.

“Did you hear the latest? He was sleeping with her best client! Had been for years!”
“OMG!! What an awful dress she wore. I’d rather be buried alive than seen dying in it!”

“Did she really die or was it part of the show?”

“Oh no! Not another cocktail party with shit drinks and no coke! Art is dead anyway.”

– “I like this show, but why is it empty in here? Should I not like this show?

“Man: “Look, that’s a Gaza mural.”
Woman, not paying attention and on her cell phone: “What? Gossip Girl?”
Man: “No, Gaza, like the war.”
Woman: “Oh, well, they film episodes here.”

(15.05.15)

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