Does Nigella Lawson really exist?

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Have you been enjoying the sight of Charles Saatchi battling with his critics? Me too. Have you understood what it was all about? No, of course you haven't. That's because you don't understand conceptual art, you blockheads

Have you been enjoying the sight of Charles Saatchi battling with his critics? Me too. Have you understood what it was all about? No, of course you haven't. That's because you don't understand conceptual art, you blockheads. So today we are going to have a crash course on conceptual art, with all your questions being answered by an expert in the field, Mr Danny Serota...

Q. May I just ask if you are any relation to Nicholas Serota, the conceptual art champion who runs Tate Britain?

A. That question doesn't really mean anything. You see, Nicholas Serota does not exist in the normal sense. He is a concept. His function is to embody the concept of a conceptual art expert. So, yes, there is a person by the name of Nicholas Serota but all we know about him is his act as a champion of conceptual art. We don't know who he is. We only know what he is. He is, if you like, a performance artist. He is giving a performance as a champion of conceptual art. He is doing an act, in the same way that Barry Humphries does Dame Edna, or Stephen Fry plays the part of Stephen Fry so successfully.

Q. I didn't understand a word of any of that.

A. Good. Next question.

Q. The other day I read a bitter attack by the Australian critic Robert Hughes on conceptual art, and people like Damien Hirst, and Tracey Emin, and Charles Saatchi, saying that they were all pygmies beside a real artist like Lucian Freud. What was all that about?

A. Well, what you have to remember is that Robert Hughes doesn't exist in the normal sense. He is actually an actor in a long-running drama called "Art Crit". He is currently playing the part of the man who points out that the emperor is wearing no clothes.

Q. Which emperor?

A. Charles Saatchi.

Q. Does Charles Saatchi exist in the normal sense?

A. No.

Q. In what sense does he exist?

A. In the sense that he once made a fortune out of advertising, champions conceptual art and is the live-in husband of Nigella Lawson. In the sense that everyone knows who the conceptual Saatchi is and nobody knows who the real Charles Saatchi is.

Q. Is that because there possibly isn't a real Charles Saatchi?

A. You're beginning to get the hang of things! The thing is, of course, that Charles Saatchi is a conceptual work of art himself.

Q. If he is a work of art, does he have a title?

A. If he had, it would be "Sir Charles Saatchi, For Services To His Own Art Collection".

Q. Right... Could I myself be a conceptual artist?

A. Of course.

Q. How? I have no artistic talent.

A. Don't be silly.

Q. Tell me how, then.

A. Describe your house for me.

Q. It's 1930ish and suburban and conventional.

A. How much would you value it at?

Q. About £210,000.

A. If you had to sell it, how would you describe it?

Q. I'd call it something like: "Home For Retired Couple" or "Solid Family House in Green Backwater"...

A. Excellent! Already you're beginning to think of your house as an art object! It's not a house, you see - it's a conceptual work of art, called something like "Hopeless Suburban Dream of Retirement". It's on sale for nearly a quarter of a million. If that's not a possible art sale, then my name is not Danny Serota!

Q. Is your name in fact Danny Serota?

A. No, it isn't, in fact.

Q. What about Nigella Lawson? Does she really exist?

Q. No. She is only the conceptual antithesis of Delia Smith.

A. Is her name really Nigella?

Q. Is Nigella really a name? Is Delia really a name? Is Alain de Botton a real person?

A. Well, is he?

Q. With a name like that? Do us a favour!

To be continued conceptually some other time

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