i was too young when i realised conceptual art was bullshit. it began ten weeks before a sunday. the teacher said, 'do some conceptual art, bitches, so i can keep my job and abundant holiday allowance.'
fast forward to the day before my assignment is due, i wake up in a panic. i go wake my dad up in a panic. 'you have to take me to bunnings*, please!' i sound like i have an irrational love for building supplies. my dad looks at me, his eyes hurt with betrayal—sunday is the only day he let's himself sleep until 9 and i have woke him up at 7. 'it's for school, i left it last minute!' he obliges because i'm his only daughter and i could begin my teen rebellion at any moment.
'$12!? why are spray cans so expensive?' my dad is shocked and asks me why i don't just use a 2B pencil. i'd like to note at this point in my life, i had not a clue how much money adults made, so when my dad gasped at its expense, i took that as a 'we are getting the minimum amount required for this 'art' project despite me happily throwing away $50 for your half-hour piano lessons** over four unfruitful years.'
i pick*** 'red, because it's the colour of blood and suffering and all things deep artistically, and... black, because that's the colour of blood after oxidation.' my dad nods in approval. he gets id-ed at check out because he looks so young. (one time a lady on our block told my mum she had three fantastic kids, when my mum answered she only had two, they never spoke again.)
i get home and take a canvas from the garage, i line the drive way up with newspapers. how hard can this be? i'm holding the black spray paint canvas facing, just as i'm applying pressure to the nozzle, i suddenly realise i don't even know what i'm going to spray? what do i want the world to know? what is my legacy? a shape? a word? a— too late. the first blob appeared on the canvas. it's heavy and drips when i tilt the frame. great, now i have to spray this whole canvas to cover that up.
five minutes later: an utter mess. on some parts the paint cover everything, while other areas are thin enough you can still see the white of the canvas. i laugh at my own work. i grab the red can and spray a blob on the lower left third to create a composition. the fumes are getting to me, and my parents want me to clean up the drive way so they can back the car out for church. let's call this a day. 9:30 am. not bad.
the next day i hide my work behind the other pieces due to embarrassment. i don't even put my name on it. i think it's better not to get a grade then to be graded for whatever monster i created.
you know what happened?
weeks later my teacher is combing through the year level wondering who made that. i thought i was going to be in trouble. he's going through all the classes. i don't own up. i'm terrified of getting a fail even though i put absolutely no effort in it. the second time around he says 'whoever painted that isn't in trouble, if that's your concern.' the magic words that bring immunity to a high school student. i raise my hand and finally own up to it.
only now i had to prove it was mine by describing the piece he had been asking about for a week in extreme detail. i did. he accepted.
and you know what happened?
he said he really loved the piece and wanted the school board to buy it for $$$. i was speechless. i thought i was going to lose it. what. the. fuck. i was so mad they wanted to buy the shittest thing i ever made. i wanted to punch a wall then put a label underneath the mark:
she mad, 2005
fist, performance art
yet like all
great artists averagely average teens... i took the money.
* an oz version of home depot
** seriously though, shout out to asian parents who never go out to eat or buy new clothes for themselves so they can provide learning opportunities they didn't have for their kids
*** i chose spray paints because they are like ready to go paints, it's always ready and there's no mess in storage (this is not spray paint sponsored i was genuinely sick of spending time on paintings. i got things to do, man)