I recently ventured on a black ops mission of art discovery.
In a ground floor cafe, a “front organisation” screening the secure offices above, I met my asset. She covertly led me through the labyrinth that is reminiscent of many Federal Government buildings and used her special coded pass to gain us initial access. We travelled skyward, in a high-tech elevator, to her office where we adeptly evaded a myriad of security doors and finally gained access to the inner sanctum.
I used my covert operative training to allow me to blend in as we head toward toward the location of the art. My asset opened the door to the room and allowed me to enter as she stood guard to ensure our presence had not been detected. I gaze around the plain walls of the tiny meeting room in anticipation. I take note of what appears to be an acoustic panel on the wall – perhaps designed to soundproof the room to prevent the secrets from escaping and falling into enemy hands. Nothing else leapt out at my spy-trained-eagle-eyes.
I turned to her (with an expression no doubt as blank as the room as we were standing in) and grunted “huh?”. She pointed.
(Apologies for the low quality photo, tech support was an iPhone for this mission. Please note that the piece is actually all one colour black, not graded like the photo shows).
My asset was pointing at the “acoustic panel” a matt, black square with a very thin silver frame around it.
This is the art I came to view? This must be a mistake – we’ve been double-crossed!!! Could my asset be a double agent?
I walked up close to inspect for hidden Rambaldi codes or something. I reached out to touch it and it felt, well, matt and black – just like it looked. With my nose almost touching the panel, I carefully continued to scour every inch of the piece. I detected a small “discrepancy” in the paint and had an “ahaaa” moment. I pointed and enquired “is that part of the art or just a dirty smudge?”. Upon closer inspection we agreed it was just a fingerprint – probably left by someone equally as confused as I was…
The piece is called “A Study in Black” by Tasmanian Artist, Samuel White (ironic much?) who is known for his “minimalist” work. Minimalist? Well, that’s stating the bleeding obvious!! Calling this work minimalist is akin to telling me water is wet.
Like all good spy stories there was a clue left for us. An A4 piece of paper with typed words describing the artist and his art. Honestly, the A4 captured my attention for longer than the actual art did.
I’m super curious to know what this piece cost, who purchased it with tax-payer’s funds and why. Another mission may be required to recover relevant data and it must be soon, my asset is being extracted.
I am left thinking that Sam is uber smart, he must be giggling maniacally at his own cleverness at creating art with such a “demonstrable lack of meaning”.