Don DeLillo – Baader-Meinhof, 2002

 

gerhard-richter_dead-tote-1988_oil-on-canvas_moma
Gerhard Richter. Dead (Tote) 1988. Oil on Canvas. 62x73cm, MoMA, New York

She knew there was someone else in the room. There was no outright noise, just an intimidation behind her, a faint displacement of air. She’d been alone for a time, seated on a bench in the middle of the gallery with the paintings set around her, a cycle of fifteen canvases, and this is how it felt to her, that she was sitting as a person does in a mortuary chapel, keeping watch over the body of a relative or friend.

This was sometimes called the viewing, she believed.

She was looking at Ulrike now, head and upper body, her neck rope-scorched, although she didn’t know for certain what kind of implement had been used in the hanging.

She heard the other person walk toward the bench, a man’s heavy shuffling stride, and she got up and went to stand before the picture pof Ulrike, one of three related images, Ulrike dead in each, lying on the floor of her cell, head in profile. The canvases varied in size. The woman’s reality, the head, the neck, the rope burn, the hair, the facial features, were painted, picture to picture, in nuances of obscurity and pall, a detail clearer here than there, the slurred mouth in one painting appearing nearly natural elsewhere, all of it unsystematic.

“Why do you think he did it this way?”

She did not turn to look at him.

“So shadowy. No color.”

She said, “I don’t know,” and went to the next set of images, called Man Shot Down. This was Andreas Baader. She thought of him by his full name or surname. She thought of Meinhof, she saw Meinhof as first name only, Ulrike, and the same was the case with Gudrun.

“I’m trying to think what happened to them.”

“They committed suicide. Or the state killed them.”

He said, “The state.” Then he said it again, deep-voiced„ in a tone of melodramatic menace, trying out a line reading that might be more suitable.

She wanted to be annoyed but felt instead a vague chagrin. It wasn’t like her to use this term – the state – in the ironclad context of supreme public power. This was not her vocabulary.

The two paintings of Baader dead in his cell were the same size but addressed the subject somewhat differently, and this is what she did now – she concentrated on the differences, arm, shirt, unknown object at the edge of the frame, the disparity or uncertainty.

“I don’t know what happened,” she said. “I’m only telling you what people believe. It was twenty-five years ago. I don’t know what it was like then, in Germany, with bombings and kidnappings.”

“The made an agreement, don’t you think?”

“Some people believe they were murdered in their cells.”

“A pact. There were terrorists, weren’t they? When they’re not killing other people, they’re killing themselves.” he said. 

She was looking at Andreas Baader, first one painting, then the other, then back again.

“I don’t know. Maybe that’s even worse in a way. It’s so much sadder. There’s so much sadness in these pictures.”

Don DeLillo,1936. Baader-Meinhof, in, The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories, 2011. First published as Baader-Menhof, in The New Yorker, April 1st 2002

Images: Gerhard Richter, b.1932. Man Shot Down 2 (Erschossener 2), 1988. Oil on Canvas, 100.5 x 140.5 cm

Gerhard Richter, b.1932. Dead (Tote), 1988. Oil on canvas, 62 x 73 cm

© MoMA, New York. The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection, gift of Philip Johnson, and acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest (all by exchange); Enid A. Haupt Fund; Nina and Gordon Bunshaft Bequest Fund; and gift of Emily Rauh Pulitzer

The short story describes a series of fifteen paintings entitled, October 18, 1977, by Gerhard Richter, born 1932, now in MoMA, New York. Text from: Gallery label from Out of Time: A Contemporary View, August 30, 2006–April 9, 2007. The fifteen paintings that compose October 18, 1977 are based on photographs of moments in the lives and deaths of four members of the Rote Armee Fraktion (RAF), a German left-wing terrorist group that perpetrated a number of kidnappings and killings throughout the 1970s. . . . these paintings have a single date as their title. On this date the bodies of three principal RAF members were found in the cells of the German prison where they were incarcerated. Although the deaths were officially deemed suicides, there was widespread suspicion that the prisoners had been murdered by the German state police. Richter based his paintings on newspaper and police photographs; his reworking of these documentary sources is dark, blurred, and diffuse. Richter hopes that, “by way of reporting,” these paintings will “contribute to an appreciation of [our time], to see it as it is.”

 

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Jeffrey Eugenides: The Mad Library,2004

Pissink Ink, Mathew Hale Miriam Books,2004

Jan laughed without mirth. Like most gallerists, he depended on artists without entirely approving of them. They were childish. They had food fights at nice restaurants, at which times he was forced to reprimand them. Jan always felt overdressed in their company. At the same time he was a fine judge of talent and possessed the organizational competence necessary to the business of art. That evening, when the artists got drunkenly up to dance, Jan heaved his bulk out of his chair and wandered into the library.

Ten minutes later he came rushing out.

Miles, what are these drawings?”

Wormington didn’t know what to say.

They’re fantastic.”

Do you think?”

This is a big departure for you.”

Wormington looked at the open book van der Pluijm was holding. On page 132 of something called “The Quest for Love,” a naked woman (Asiatic by the dashes of her eyes) lay against the grain of the print, holding in one hand the bent stalk of a penis. Was it really? Wormington squinted. There was a tensile quality to the drawing, suggesting that for a long time the artist hadn’t known what it was going to be. And then suddenly he had known. The discovery of its subject was its subject. Part of the page was blacked out. Looking harder, Wormington saw the words “John Lennon” submerged in this darkened area. So the naked woman was Yoko then. And that was Lennon’s penis she was holding. And those were Lennon’s balls.

Yes, it is different,” Wormington said. “For me.” He scanned the text for an explanation of the drawing’s content, but other than a mention of “the English” and something about “two-second spasms” there was nothing definite. Wormington’s head felt fuzzy.

I am thinking we make a show of these drawings. We hang the books up in the gallery. Or do you think we cut the pages out and frame them?”

Wormington’s eyes were playful as he considered this. But his voice remained serious. “My conception,” he said and hesitated. “The idea I had, originally, was to cut the pages out.” He was enjoying himself now. “I like the idea of them being disembodied.”

Disembodied. Good. So we cut them out. That will make it easier for the sales, too.”

Will it? Sales?”

Yeah, sure. I have an opening at the gallery in a month. We do the show then.”

Wormington, still drunkenly extemporizing, impersonating someone he had never met, accepted. It didn’t seem as though this were really happening. On the other hand, if it were happening, he needed the money. And, besides, who would ever know?

Jeffrey Eugenides, born 1960       The Mad Library: A Fable, 2004

An excerpt from a short story published in the catalogue ‘PISSING INK, produced for Mathew Hale’s solo exhibition, ‘DIE STADT . LA CITTA’ . THE MOTHER’, at DAAD, Berlin.

Publisher: DAAD Galerie Berlin (Hg./Ed.), 2004; 116 pages, with text in English by Jeffrey Eugenides, Jordan Kantor, Assistant Curator, Department of Drawings, MoMA, New York, and an afterword by Friedrich Meschede. ISBN: 3-89357-110-8  PiSsInG InK: 80 Pages, Mathew Hale from Miriam Books

A M Homes – Cindy Stubenstock, in, The Book of Other People, 2007

lisa yuskavage

Cindy Stubenstock is trading up – at a recent auction, she flipped two Gurskys, an early Yuskavage and her husband’s bonus, and was on the phone later live from London topping the bidding on a rare Picasso etching that looked ‘beautiful over the fireplace’.

‘Gives whole new meaning to up in smoke,’ the cryptic British auctioneer mumbled under his breath.

Now Cindy and her Scarsdale sisterhood – aka the ladies who linger at lunch – are on the tarmac at Teterboro, wandering from plane to plane.

‘There never used to be so many,’ one says.

‘Do we really need to take two planes?’

‘Well, there are six of us and I just hate being crowded, and besides, what if I want to leave early?’ They all nod, knowing the feeling.

‘Just the thought of being trapped somewhere makes me nervous – does anyone have anything – a little blue, a little yellow?’

‘I’ve got Ativan.’

‘I’ll take it.’

‘We’re going to Miami, it’s not the rain forest, not the darkest Peru, you can get a commercial flight out any time you want – just call JetBlue,’ one of the women says.

And the others look at her horrified, aghast, shocked that she can even say the words ‘commerical flight’ so easily, without pause. Flying private is one of the perks of being who they are; it’s why they put up with so much. NO airport security.

‘Soon that will change, they’re going to have scented dogs everywhere.’

‘It’s not scented dogs, it’s sniffing dogs. Scented dogs would be like soaps, verbena, vanilla, Macchu Picchu.’

‘Why do you always correct me? I’m an old woman – leave me alone.’

‘You’re forty-eight, you’re not old.’

And then there is silence.

‘Which plane is it? He keeps trading them in. I never know which one is ours.’

‘She calls it trading them in – he calls it fractional ownership,’ one of the women whispers.

‘G4, Falcon, Citation, Hawker, Learjet – remember when they were all “Learjets”? Remember when the word “Learjet” used to mean something?’

‘Who is that bald man in the wheelchair? He looks familiar – do I know him from somewhere?’

‘Is it Philip Johnson?’

‘Philip Johnson died two years ago.’

‘Really?’

‘Yes.’

‘That’s so sad.’

‘Is that Yul Brynner?’

‘It’s someone with cancer.’

‘What’s he doing here?’

‘He’s getting an Angel Flight back to where he lives,’ one of the ground crew says. ‘People donate flights – for those who are basically too sick to travel.’

‘Oh, I don’t think I could ever do that – I couldn’t have a sick person on the plane – I mean, what about the germs?’

‘I don’t normally think of cancer as contagious.’

‘You never know.’ She runs her hand through her hair – which she gels in the morning with Purell – prophylactically.

The group divides; Sally Stubenstock, the society sister of Cindy, and her ‘friend’ Tasha, the yoga instructor, go on their own plane. ‘We want alone time,’ Tasha says.

‘She wants to downward dog me at 10,000 feet,’ Sally says.

‘It’s gross,’ someone whispers.

‘What do you care – they’re not asking you to do it.’

‘Women kiss better than men – it’s a fact.’

‘How would you know?’

‘Because one night Wallis (the weird woman who has a man’s last name for her first name) Wallingford planted one right on me.’

‘Was she drunk?’

‘I don’t think so. It felt very good.’

‘Better than a man?’

She nods. ‘Softer, more thoughtful.’

Cindy Stubenstock puts her fingers in her ears and hums loudly and sings, ‘This is something I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know-oh-o.’

The conversation stops. They climb aboard. The pilot pulls the door closed and locks it. The women take their seats and then take other seats. They move around the cabin until they are comfortable. They put all their fur coats together on one seat.

‘Where are you staying? The Raleigh, the Delano, the Biltmore?’

‘I’m staying at Pinkie and Paulie’s.’

‘Really?’ Cindy asks.

Her friend nods.

‘I’ve never stayed at someone’s house,’ Cindy Stubenstock confesses. ‘How do you do it? When you get there – what do you do – how do you check in?’

‘It’s like going for dinner or cocktails – you knock on the door and hopefully someone answers.’

‘Does someone take your bag? Do you tip them? And what if you can’t sleep – what if you need to get up and walk around? Do you have your own bathroom – I can’t stay anywhere without my own bathroom even with my husband. If you pee, do you flush? What if someone hears you? It just seems so stressful.’

‘When you were growing up, did you ever go on a sleepover?’

‘Just once – I got homesick and my father came and got me – it seemed like the middle of the night but my parents always used to tease me – it was really only about 11 pm.’

‘When I go to someone’s house – I bring a clean sheet,’ another woman chimes in.

‘And remake the bed?’

‘No, I wrap myself in it – do you know how infrequently most blankets are laundered – including hotel blankets – think of the hundreds of people who have used the same blanket.’

‘What’s for dinner tonight?’ someone asks.

‘A big corned-beef sandwich. That’s what I go to Miami for – Wolfie’s. I get sick every time – but I can’t resist. It reminds me of my grandparents – and of my childhood.’

‘I thought you were a vegetarian?’

‘I am.’

‘By the way, whatever happened with that Brice Marden painting you were trying to buy?’

‘It’s still pending – we haven’t completed our interview.’

‘Some of the galleries now have a vetting process – there is a company that will interview potential buyers, about everything from their assets, hobbies and intentions for their collections – and once that’s done – they schedule a home visit.’

‘Exactly, we still need the home visit, but CeeCee has been so busy with the re-do that she won’t let anyone from the gallery into the house.’

‘What are you doing?’

‘We’re going from day to night – swapping all the black paintings for white, we sold the Motherwells and the Stills and now she’s bringing in Ryman, Richter and a Whiteread bookcase.’

‘Sounds great – very relaxing – no color at all.’

‘I heard you bought a Renoir in London.’

‘We had a good year. I like it so much I want to fuck it.’

‘When we got our Rothko – we had sex on the floor in front of it.’

‘Those were the days…’

‘And when we got the Pollock.’

‘Well, you got that really big one.’

‘Fairly big.’

‘The room is so large that it’s all relative.’

‘Do you remember that time we were all on that art tour and they let us touch a few things – Stanley stroked the Birth of Venus and got excited?’

‘Stanley, the seeing-eye horse – or Stanley your husband?’

‘Stanley, the human. He was mortified.’

‘I thought it was cute.’

‘Where is Stanley this weekend?’

‘Stan, the man, is playing golf and Stanley the seeing-eye horse is having his teeth cleaned this weekend and so the society gave me a stick.’ She holds up a white cane. ‘Like this is going to do me any good. I’ve got a docent meeting me for the fair – a young curator.’

‘God, I remember when Stanley, the horse, tried to mount the stuffed pony that your parents sent your son…’

‘We were all there – the Hanukah party.’

‘It plagued my son – the sight of Stanley trying to “hop” the pony. He said hop – instead of hump – it was soo sweet.’

‘There are people who are into that – stuffed animals. “Plushies” they call them.’

‘I have no idea what you’re talking about.’

‘Sex parties!’

‘And they invite stuffed animals?’

‘Speaking of animal behaviour – are we preparing for takeoff yet?’

‘I’m sorry, Mrs Stubenstock,’ the pilot says. ‘There’s military aircraft in the area – and the airspace has been closed down.’

‘Oh now, is the President coming to town again? Thank God we’re leaving – he always blocks traffic.’

‘We’re third in line for takeoff as soon as the air opens.’

‘We usually fly on Larry’s plane, he redecorates it for every flight. Different art work depending on where we’re going. Something for LA, something for Basel, something for Venice.’

‘That’s because he’s trying to sell you something.’

‘No, I don’t think so. We always ask, and he tells us that whatever it is we want – it’s not for sale.’

‘That’s how he does it – that’s how he gets you.’

‘Did you hear about Sarah and Steve’s Warhol worries?’

‘No, what?’

‘Turns out their Warhols aren’t Warhols – they’re knockoffs like cheap Louis Vuittons on Canal Street.’

‘But they have Polaroids of Andy signing the pictures. Andy and Steve standing together while Andy signed them.’

‘Apparently he would sign anything, but that didn’t mean that he made it.’

‘They were banking on those pictures – literally.’

‘Well, you know what they say – you should never be dependent on your art collection to do anything for you that you can’t do for yourself.’

‘Are you invited to the VIP party?’

‘The VIP parties aren’t the good parties – there are no invites for the real parties, you just have to know where they are.’

‘I told Susie that I would go to the dinner but only as long as I didn’t have to sit next to an artist – I never know what to say to them.’

‘I always ask them if they’re starving – and they never get it,’ Cindy says. ‘I’ve noticed that most of the younger artists are carnivores. Remember when artists only ate things like sprouts and bags of “greens” that they carried with them? Now they all eat meat – it’s all post-Damien.’

‘Like how?’

‘Don’t you remember – Damien Hirst’s first big piece was really very small… It was a piece of steak that his father had choken on. Young Damien gave his father the Heimlich maneuver and the steak came flying out of his mouth and he could breathe again. Damien saved the piece of steak and put it in a jar of formaldehyde that he got from the school and called it I Saved My Father’s Life – Now What Will Become of Us.

‘I never heard that story.’

Cindy Stubenstock shrugs. ‘It’s famous. I think the piece is in the Saatchi collection in London.

A M Homes,1961

Cindy Stubenstock, in, The Book of Other People, 2007 (Zadie Smith, Editor)

Image: Lisa Yuskavage

Nick Hornby, with illustrations by Posy Simmonds: J.Johnson, in, The Book of Other People, 2008

ANNIE GREEN is an artist, and the illustrator of the much
loved Elvis the Elephant series. She too lives in the North-
East of England, with a large menagerie including a snake.
She drives an old 2CV called Poppy
The Book of Other People - Annie Green
Nick Hornby with illustrations by Posy Simmonds, in, The Book of Other People. Edited by Zadie Smith,2008

Jonathan Lethem. Perkus Tooth, in, The Book of Other People, 2008

Susan Eldred gave me Perkus Tooth’s number, then
paused. ‘I guess you must have recognized his name . . .’
‘No.’
‘Well, in fact he’s really quite an amazing critic. When I
was at NYU my friends and I all used to idolize him. When I
first got the chance to hire him to do a liner note I was quite
in awe. It was shocking how young he was, it seemed like
I’d grown up seeing his posters and stuff.’
‘Posters?’
‘He used to do this thing where he’d write these rants on
posters and put them up all around Manhattan, these sort of
brilliant critiques of things, current events, media rumours,
public art. They were a kind of public art, I guess. Everyone
thought it was very mysterious and important. Then he got
hired by Rolling Stone. They gave him this big column, he
was sort of, I don’t know, Hunter Thompson meets Pauline
Kael, for about five minutes. If that makes any sense.’
‘Sure

Jonathan Lethem. Perkus Tooth, in, The Book of Other People. Edited by Zadie Smith,2008

Art School Confidential,1991-Daniel Clowes

Art School Confidential is a four page graphic narrative lampooning the attitudes, aspirations and clichés of American art school. Originally a black and white comic feature that appeared in Clowes’ comic book Eightball #7, November 1991, it was produced in a colour version published with the screenplay for the film Art School Confidential, 2006.

Daniel Clowes, born 1961, attended the Pratt Institute and his observations and experiences are based on contemporary art school culture. Characters include “Rich guys who draw worse than your seven year old sister!”, Has-been famous artist Professors who couldn’t teach a dog to bark!” ” Self-obsessed neurotic art-girls who make their own clothes!”,”Completely talentless, rich housewives with too much time on their hands”. And includes the cynical advice, “If you must go to art school for God’s sake make the most of it … seldom if ever again in life will you be afforded the chance to scrutinize such an array of losers in an environment that actually encourages their most pretentious inclinations!”

The comic strip began in the humble environs of the art school zine but its humorous observation grew into an art school cult.   “Well, I’ll do something about art school that will amuse my 10 friends who went. I really thought nobody else would comment on it or even notice. As it turned out, every single one of my readers was either in art school or had some affiliation with it. They all responded overwhelmingly (and) were all certain I had gone to the same art school they had. The story took on a life of its own for a while.… People would Xerox it and put it up on the bulletin board at school. Somebody else would take it from there and Xerox it again.” 

artschoolcinfidential1 Artschoolconfidential2sp ArtSchoolConfidential3 ArtSchoolConfidential4 ASC 2 ASC 3 ASC 3a aSC 4 ASC 4a

asc3cDaniel Clowes, 1961.  Art School Confidential,1991-

Larry Niven – The Artists, 2011

Subterranean Magazine. winter2011Unholy Colors, the latest of the Chirpsithra interstellar liners, sent down a boatful of artists and artistry to pile up around the walls of the Draco Tavern.

Some of the big stuff could stay outside, but most of it was too delicate. The work had been accumulating for two days now. Aliens in many shapes drifted among the displays, critiquing each other’s work in a score of alien languages.

The bar wasn’t selling much. The viewers were reluctant to carry drinks and the like. Spilled drinks, sparkers, foodstuffs, smoke or toxic gasses could ruin too many of these displays.

The work was generally impressive. Some of what was lined along the curved wall seemed half familiar. Paintings, sculpture, weaving. But the paintings showed odd colors, oddly matched to human eyesight. Alien graffiti wrote itself as you watched. Water above a fountain twisted into strange curves, glowing in neon colors. Some of the sculpted shapes, and some of the holograms, moved. Light sprayed in random patterns. Between a fractally twisted tree and a radio antenna that wasn’t doing anything, another tree grew taller as I watched.

It reached a limit, a cage of branches.

I went about my business, and looked again, and the tree was gone. Yet there was something there…

I stopped by the bar to pick up a palm stun. No suspicions, just a habit I’ve tried to encourage in myself. I strode casually among tall Chirpsithra, small yellow bugs, creatures armored or hairy or feathered, a water tank on tractor treads, a snake with a huge mouth and several tongues…alien artists wandering among the displays.

What I thought I’d seen was there, slumped against the blue curve of the wall. I could just make it out from two feet away: half a kiloton of octopoid bulge, its body a half-empty sack, its eight tentacles thick and muscular and bifurcated into fingerlets. Its skin glowed a wonderful sky blue, shading itself to match the holo wall. Now its eyes met mine. Then the blue darkened almost to black, and rainbow shapes like tiny octopi lifted from a seabed and swam a pattern across the creature’s bulbous torso, as if trying to write a message.

I spoke into the bead mike of my translator. “Are you participating in the Gallery Display?”

“I am.”

“I’m Rick Schumann. I run the Draco Tavern. Welcome.”

“I thank you. My name is View from the Depth.”

“Can I fetch you sustenance?” Usually a visiting ship keeps me supplied with whatever a visiting alien needs. I couldn’t remember anything unusual being delivered since Unholy Colors’ lander came down. “What’s your physiological type?”

“Tee tee hatch nex ool. May I have seawater?”

I went back to the bar. I was mildly surprised: tee tee hatch nex ool is the same code as mine, as Earth life, the air and water patterns that won’t poison, for instance, a human being. I mixed up a reasonable approximation of seawater, chilled it a little, and brought a big bowl of it to View.

“Refreshing,” View said, its eyes and beak dripping. “Do you enjoy alien art forms?”

“Some are very pretty. Talking to the artists is mostly confusing. What else can you show me?”

“My companions liked this.” View’s body changed. In dark depths colors swirled: pillars and jets of stardust brilliantly lit from offstage. Stars formed explosively. One came near, nestled in a thousand rings. The rings grew lumpy and formed planets in blasts of white light.

My score of customers were watching me and View. Conversation swirled, and I sensed amusement.

I asked View, “Where are you from?”

“I will show.” Again View’s body sac darkened at the edges, brightening in the center. I watched a planet form. The view zoomed in, and I recognized the Philippines, New Guinea, Japan rimming an arc of Indian Ocean. Now there were only islands visible: Micronesia, and an awful lot of water.

A Glig was at my elbow, a little too big and a little too close. “Do you like View from the Depth?”

It dawned on me: View was a display of genetic skill, a work of art. “Impressive. Yours?”

The artists were laughing, each in its own way. The Glig said, “No. View from the Depth was worked by Sea People.”

We should never have let the Sea People into the oceans. “View, are there more of you?”

“Two early versions. Next version will breed, but must have permission of the Chirpsithra.”

“These are our oceans,” I said.

“Tell the Chirpsithra. I do not hold copyright.”

Yerrofistch wore rank markings on her scarlet chitin chest. If I’d read them right, she was an officer of middle rank among Unholy Colors’ Chirpsithra crew. I brought a sparker to her table and struck up a conversation.

She said, “The Sea People entered your Atlantic Ocean during the year the Draco Tavern was shut down. After all, where else were they to go? Many species visited other parts of Earth during that period.”

“I know. They bred like crazy and ate up a lot of fish. Where are they now?”

“The passengers, the primary group, moved on with their ship. Their progeny are mules; they will not breed. Are you worried about their consumption of fish?”

“No, not that.” The Sea People had eaten deep into the fish population of the Indian Ocean, but they’d found a way to pay that back. They’d helped the locals build OTEC power plants, powered by the difference in temperature between the surface and the bottom of the ocean. One side effect of pumping warm water down was that warm currents rose from the depths, carrying nutrients to feed more fish. “No, it’s what they’ve been doing with the octopus, the local life forms.”

I pointed out View. Yerrofistch stood and walked over.

At that point the bar got busy. I didn’t get a chance to join them for some time, but I did watch them talking. View was creating visuals to illustrate important points.

When I joined them, Yerrofistch said, “She is intelligent.”

“I know,” I said.

“What Sea People remain number in the thousands. They were left to deal with View and her people and several other experiments. We’ll look into those. Meanwhile, these that View calls the Many Hands are a legitimately sapient species. Copyright no longer applies: they own themselves. I don’t see that they will disturb your civilization much. You don’t share territory. View and two sisters are the only models who can walk and breathe out of the ocean.”

Most of my customers now clustered around the fireplace. It had just been floated in, a pit of bricks and charcoal with an inverted funnel chimney above the flame, and it had the aliens fascinated. I was surprised. Fire’s common enough. But the centauroid artist was preening.

“I can do that,” View from the Depth said. Flames chased themselves across her torso and limbs; smoke darkened above. A human reporter, festooned with camera specs and sensors, turned to watch her.

“No heat,” I said.

“No. May I have water?”

“I’ll get it.”

“Wait. What is this I’m told? Are you shutting down the artists’ display?”

“In twenty-six days.”

“Must I return to the sea? I must visit, of course, but I find more of interest on the land.”

“I was wondering,” I said. “Could you represent your kind as an ambassador? I was thinking your people should petition for representation in the United Nations. Otherwise someone might take away their fishing grounds.”

“I do not know that I would still be considered one of them. I am so altered.”

“Where’s their choice? The UN meets on land.”

“Well, I can ask. Thank you, Rick. Is this one of the displays?”

I introduced the reporter to the octopus, and they began an interview.

Larry Niven, b. 1938.   The Artists, 2011

Published in Subterranean Press Magazine, Winter 2011

http://subterraneanpress.com/magazine/winter_2011/fiction_the_artists_by_larry_niven