The fine aroma of roast shark

Share
Related Topics

The fire which has consumed so many of Charles Saatchi's works of art may have left the traditionalists unmoved, but the odd thing is that in modern quarters the mood is not one of sadness either. In fact, it has been greeted ecstatically by some critics as an art happening of the highest order.

The fire which has consumed so many of Charles Saatchi's works of art may have left the traditionalists unmoved, but the odd thing is that in modern quarters the mood is not one of sadness either. In fact, it has been greeted ecstatically by some critics as an art happening of the highest order.

"Just when the public was getting a little blasé about the way art was going," says BritCrit wunderkind Danny Serota (no relation), "they have been reminded of the 'happening' nature of new art by seeing it destroyed in this very meaningful way. It's almost as if the art was saying - 'You are starting to forget about us, so we we are going to remind you in a very forceful way that we exist, and the way we are going to remind you is by no longer existing.' It's a rather ironic suicide note."

How can a suicide note be ironic, unless suicide does not take place? But Danny Serota (no relation) is already theorising about the Saatchi fire.

"For most of us, a work of art exists only in the mind. We see a Chapman Brothers creation, we see a Damien Hirst concept, for maybe 20 minutes in our life. Right? Unless we own it. And even if you own it, like Charles Saatchi, you don't see it very often, especially if you keep it in a warehouse down the East End. So there you are, with a 20-minute exposure to a Damien Hirst. The rest of your life you experience that Hirst only in your memory. It doesn't have to exist physically. And now it really doesn't exist! It only exists in our memory! I think that's a sort of artistic triumph in its own right."

What does that mean? What is he talking about?

"What I am talking about," says a suddenly very serious Danny Serota (no relation), "is perhaps the most significant art event of this century. I am talking about an event which validates conceptual art. The destruction of this art consecrates it for all time. If it had survived, it would have been taken for granted and become trite. By perishing, it has become eternal."

Inspector Millmoss, the art-loving specialist from Scotland Yard, who is investigating the fire, tends, paradoxically, to agree.

"I am in charge of a special art squad which not only investigates art crimes but, if necessary, promotes them. And I think this fire is a much-needed shot in the arm for the increasingly dreary world of conceptual art. Who was it said that an incinerated Tracey Emin is more interesting than an untouched Tracey Emin?"

I don't know. Who was it?

"Well, me, actually," says Inspector Millmoss. "I also think the Chapman Brothers' piece called 'Hell' could not know any more fitting fate than the fires of damnation. Mmm - and what's that delicious smell? Could it be roast shark? Or a Damien Hirst sheep on the spit?"

Those who accuse Inspector Millmoss of bad taste should remember he is a cutting-edge policeman, on the side of art as shock. Whenever photographs of naked children are seized, he is the officer behind it. Whenever a show is closed on health and safety grounds, you will find Millmoss behind the scenes. His aim is not censorship but sensation and controversy. So what does he see as the plusses of this fire?

"Well, one thing that strikes me is that the value of other works by the Chapman Brothers, and Hirst, and Emin, will shoot up. So if arson is involved, we would be looking as a suspect for someone who owns a lot of them."

Like - Charles Saatchi?

"It's a lovely thought," twinkles Inspector Millmoss, "but I see poor Mr Saatchi more as a work of art in his own right; a tragic study called 'The Uninsured Art Collector' or something like that."

A final word from Danny Serota (still no relation)?

"This burnt-out warehouse has become a shrine of conceptual art. As soon as it cools, it should be open to the public. Better still, the Arts Council should fund it to go on a nationwide tour. As it now stands, full of burnt-out treasures, it is priceless and unique. But nobody must try to repair it. If it is rebuilt, it will be worth nothing."

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Left in limbo: Refugee children in a processing centre in Brownsville, Texas  

Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Rupert Cornwell
Harman has said her gender affected her employment  

Gordon Brown could have had a woman as deputy PM. He bottled it

Joan Smith
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?