Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Fightback Art - Flash Fiction

Hollywood had fallen as easily as a stage flat. The troops of the AltRight turned their attention to New York. The President was equivocal about any assailing of Wall Street, but they had carte blanche on the deviant lawyers and artists housed in Gotham. They were also encouraged to hunt down radical Islamic terrorists (born and bred in Carolina and Kansas) who were assumed to have gone to ground there, since they seemed to be pursuing their own strategic targets, although the exact numbers of their forces couldn’t be determined. Militias from Idaho and Montana were dispatched to de-core the Big Apple and root out every last maggot. 

The campaign was started with simultaneous attacks on MOMA on 57th St and the Guggenheim on 89th. Sculptures were attacked with box cutters, though the first contact transformed them into harmless palette knives. Tins of house decorating paint were hurled against paintings mounted on the walls, but some magical force bunched the paint splashes like Hokusai waves, before sending them slithering to the concrete floor where they proceeded to reproduce any of a variety of Jackson Pollock canvases. The only blow these sap squads landed was successfully shooting up several Jasper Johns’ “Target” paintings, scoring perfect bulls’ eyes, but the museum curators only felt this added to the paintings’ interactive spirit of the familiar, though art critics felt it merely demonstrated their own two-dimensional literalism. The discourse raged on, though this first wave of shock corps were oblivious to their part in the debate. An Islamic Anti-Blasphemy' squad came across them at the upper echelons of the Guggenheim, threw a copy of their "Taliban and ISIS Guide To Perfidious Art" into the gallery they occupied and then fled. The manual had just a sole page, a photograph of a stick of dynamite. They mined the top storey, but their hoped for Helter Skelter failed to materialise, instead they were thrown off balance and tumbled all the way down the Guggenheim’s spiral incline and were bounced out by their own philistine perspective, followed by all the art their blast had liberated. 

They took their war to the streets, but New York’s awakened soul defied them at every turn. Broadway itself turned “Boogie-Woogie” and seethed and pulsed with animated light and colour that refused to offer itself up for landmarks by which the militias could orient themselves. Other Mondrianic effects warped and disarrayed the Grid pattern and plunged the troops into anomic motion homesickness. The mid-Westerners didn’t trust themselves or the solidity of Joseph Stella’s “Brooklyn Bridge, so Brooklyn remained unmolested. When Koons' creations walked the streets, these supermen thought them to be real cartoon characters derived from their memories and halted their operations to sit down and enjoy their progress and relive their own bucolic childhoods. The sexualised scents emanating from the O’Keefean blooms that bedecked New York’s flowerboxes made them sick just below their paunches and scores fell away invalided from the campaign with inexplicable erections. Many saluted Lichtenstein’s “Flag” and were frozen in patriotic Old Glory immobility. Quartermasters tried to secure rations from Warhol’s “One Hundred Cans”, but there was no nourishment to be derived, nor was there enough to go round. The image of Leutze’s “Washington Crossing The Delaware” which they employed for their banners, mysteriously transformed in NYC’s rarefied air into Colescott’s version and saw them jumping up and down on their own cloth and setting fire to it, the only art they managed to burn throughout the whole campaign. In NYC’s neon lighting, the vanguardians were forced to finally see the subversive poetic and aesthetic symmetries within their own iconographic “American Gothic” which they had taken for the standard of deviation against which to winkle out any New Yorker who didn’t conform. Finally, crosstown was crouched a man in leathers, with a whip protruding from his rectum, at which point an Islamic terrorist cell fled for their lives at this visitation by Shaytan himself.  

The Young British Artists pledged their support for their fellow American BoHos. But no matter how exhausted the New York resistance were, none could bring themselves to resort to Tracey Emin’s donated bed for rest and recuperation. While the leering death imagery of Damien Hirst’s jewelled skulls was felt to be a hex, though the diamonds did prove useful in supplementing their lasers and machine tool production in the fight against the white supremacists. They did wheel out Hirst’s dead shark into a New York thoroughfare, opened up its case, but the formaldehyde just pooled in the gutter before disappearing down the sewers, while the shark lay forlornly in the street holding up traffic, but no one consider this the least bit surreal or out of place. 

The Neo-Nazis retreated from Manhattan, but they had successfully liberated Marsden Hartley’s “Portrait Of a German Officer” from its museum and managing to overcome their own vertiginous revulsion at its bewildering Cubism, at least they could centre themselves in the insignia of the German army at its heart. Thus they regathered themselves to storm Brooklyn, bolstered by reinforcements from Ohio and Florida. The one thing they shared with the Islamists was an antipathy for Jews, so the two groups put aside their own mutual antagonisms to plot a joint onslaught. They dug themselves in for a siege, erecting a series of gas ovens at their perimeter in order to sap the will of the besieged. However, Rothkos appeared everywhere and at every angle like a Roman Army tortoise formation in direct opposition. The AltRight couldn’t get their ovens to work, the gas to flow, the flame to light. When they sent in their engineers, they observed how the oven doors were indistinctly and imprecisely rendered, being of poor fit and allowing the gas to escape. The gas itself too had condensed into many thick pigmented layers, being too dense to ignite. Rothko’s hues opposite sucked the heart and space out of them, demanding a crepuscular meditation they just could not offer up and many jumped inside their own ovens and begged for combustion to take them completely away from this claustrophobic Hell. And so the siege was lifted and the retreat from New York begun back to the snowy wastes of the Heartland. 

*author's note This story was inspired by reading the first 16 pages of China Mieville's latest novella "The Last Days Of New Paris". Since I have not at the time of writing got beyond the first 16 pages as I became swept up in the creation of this story, I have no idea if I am doing a disservice to Mieville's book through a misreading of his intentions, or whether I have unconsciously ended up ripping off his ideas totally. I hope in either case he will forgive me, since time is pressing in which artists need to respond to the threat of Donald Trump, both to them and their freedom of expression, but also to societal values and liberties at large. 
This short story is my 3rd 'Fightback' response to Trump's early days in the Whitehouse. You can read my Letter to America here and view my cartoons here. 

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