1 July 2003

A “Theatre” Piece: The Artist

Leon Golub

Artist Leon Golub thinks he wrote this piece in 1972 or 1973.

Banker: Time is money!
Artist: Time—stop! Simultaneous! New now—art! Money is OK! Money frees the artist.
Banker: You recognize the value of money?
Artist: Recognition—right!
Banker: With money we can build you museums—to your glory and to ours!
Artist: To your glory and to ours!

General: America needs space—Lebensraum! The divinity that is America. The divine right is to be made manifest! Our manifest destiny!
Artist: Artists do not recognize manifest destiny! But we abhor spatial restriction! Space is now—flat!
General: You talk absurdly! Artists are ridiculous! Space is tangible, my friend, one possesses it! We recognize however the triumphant success of American Art—its flag is over the globe!
Artist: We recognize the power of America, the power of American art! But we have no connection to your power manias, you militant and militarist fantasies. Fuck war!
General: We generals fuck the enemy! We lay into the cowardly custards!
Artist: Artists fuck the past.
General: Peace, friend. Don't gainsay me that!
Artist: Peace!

Statesman: Artist! We are going to send you work around the world—great American art! We are proud of our great artists!
Artist: I have no truck with American foreign policy. Art cannot be bought!
Statesman: We need you artist. Art is clean. You are clean. I am clean America is clean.
Artist: You are a dirty pig! But art is clean and I am clean.
Statesman: Listen artist, you are free, right?
Artist: Pig, we earned our freedom!
Statesman: But you are free?
Artist: Yes. I am free!
Statesman: So where is the lie if we show your free art to the world?
Artist: There is no lie in that!
Statesman: Your art is free. There is no label on it. We celebrate you, artist, and the society that could produce you.
Artist: Thank you.

Businessman: The artist is a businessman—no difference!
Artist: Crap! Pure unadulterated B.S.!
Businessman: You are on your pride today! Come off it. I make an object. I sell it! You make an object. You sell it!
Artist: B.S.! B.S.! B.S.! Man! My object, man, is unique! It is untouchable, you bastard!
Businessman: Listen! That's not the point! Such fucking innocence! Sure your object is unique. I envy you! What prices! What status! You make it, you sell it! Don't you realize-your objects are priceless! The summit, the peak. The supreme peak of the market.
Artist: You know you got something there!
Businessman: Listen, my friend, art value renders into negotiable currency. High prices are not crap! They are value. Real value!
Artist: I gotta think about that one.

Industrialist: I make big war machines. Sorry about that! But America needs me.
Artist: Killer!
Industrialist: My friend, I do it for my country! Don't call me a killer. I am a patriot! It is my simple duty! Besides if I didn't do it, you know who would!
Artist: Lies and dirt!
Industrialist: I love art! I put it in my factory! I put it in my home! You need me, my know-how and my machines. Artist, the world is not so simple, it is not all black and white!
Artist: You are right, it is not all black and white!

Leon Golub is an artist based in New York City. He has been exhibiting internationally since the 1950s in many exhibitions, including Documenta 3, Documenta 8, and Documenta 11.

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