Wherein the author speculates about the future of conceptual art in the name of the Christie’s, the Charles Saatchi, the Holy Sotheby’s, Steve Wynn.
Val Murdoch, singer, performs her weekly 40-minute set at Guelph’s The Welf and Good in a cappella whispers. The crowd of drinkers, initially rowdy, grows quiet and confused. Some gulp their drinks and leave. Some watch her, but only after sharing a look of wide-eyed awareness with their tablemates that what is happening on stage is shameful. Some turn away and continue talking because Val isn’t holding their attention. The majority take out their phones and film her, involuntarily standing closer and closer the better to hear her. She ends on “I’d Rather Go Blind,” whispers thank you and goes home.
The venue manager calls her late at night to ask if anything is the matter and she whispers no. When he calls her mother and her mother calls Val to ask if she needs help, she whispers no. She shows up the following week to perform her set and whisper-sings again. The manager pulls her off stage and says she can either sing at an acceptable volume or find a gig someplace else. Val whispers OK and walks into the night.
Within a month she’s cancelled internet accounts, cell phone, credit cards, sold her apartment, traded in her car, changed her name and filled out the forms for brand new documents for personal identification. Her family and friends do not get a goodbye.
She reemerges as Jenny Muller, silkscreen printer, in downtown Victoria, British Columbia, to start her life again.
Materials — your self, another self.