(Originally posted in April 2013)
WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH THIS $100 CHECK?
A personal check in the amount of $100 was written out and donated as art(prank) for auction in Flux Factory's 2012 benefit. The mastermind behind this gesture was Jason Eppink. The starting bid was $1.
I was the final bidder. I paid $141 for it. I have been haunted by it since. I immediately began questioning whether I should deposit or keep the check, and if I should have paid the amount I did for it. But when I decided to deposit it and be done with it, Jason publicized the transactionon his website, crediting me as "the Patron." Now it was a whole thing.
I needed to delay action in order to explore the factors leading to the present situation and its future implications. The process sounds logical, but I think it may be somewhat mystical.
(NOTE: Questioning of impulsive decision aside, I am very happy to be a supporter of Flux Factory.)
JASON, MICHELLE, AND THE $100 CHECK
Hoax, art, charmed object, or cash for my bank account?
"dude who is just trying to make things a little better."
Bidder and current owner of the check and "Patron"
The catalyst of this story is Flux Factory (aka Flux),a collective/organization/unique ecosystem of lovable misfits in Queens. Without Flux, this situation would not exist.
I found Jason's contribution to the benefit auction refreshing and placed an advance bid, thinking it would be funny to win it for less than its monetary value. Once the bids started nearing $100, the game was over for me. But on the night of the benefit, I got carried away by a moment (to be described below) that led me to the final bid.
The auction ended, the lights went on, and I stood there thinking what did I just do, and why? I hadn't carefully thought about what the responsible outcome should be, ideologically speaking. I felt that, even though I entered into it voluntarily, the joke may have been on me.
If I deposited the check, did it make sense conceptually that I paid the amount I did? And if I kept the check, would this be an investment in the object, turning the gesture into a commodity, like art? I kept teetering between understanding what was right by the idea, by myself, or by Jason.
Factors Contributing to the Situation on the Evening in Question:
#1 The flu:
I arrived at the benefit in a brain fog after being in bed with a fever for days.
I found that consistent sipping on cocktails was the only way to sustain myself that evening.
#2 My corduroy dream outfit:
I was wearing my corduroy knickers suit.
This suit is the realization of a long-lived vision--
my dream outfit.
When I wear it, I feel invincible
#3 Lucid dreaming
I have lucid dreams. This has provided me with a
magical inner life since I can remember.
But, when I am recovering from the flu, haven't eaten,
have had several cocktails, and am surrounded
by lively social activity, actual life can seem very much
like a lucid dream… where logic, or consequences of
reality do not exist. These are precarious moments for me.
#4 The vicarious rush:
My brother Doug->
was at the benefit and was inspired to bid on his first artwork. I advised him on bidding on a piece he really liked. When he put his name down, I got so excited for him that I said "you know what? I am going to bid on something too!" The item Doug bid on was was hanging directly next to Jason's check.(Doug did not win)
#5 The unsaid thing
Jason is a magnetic, confident (younger) man. My feeling towards him ranges from peer admiration and friendship, to envy of how forthright he is in his actions, to good old female curiosity. There may be a powerplay here that makes me squirm a little. Did my subconscious prompt me to bid because I was not only purchasing a piece by Jason, I was purchasing a piece of him?
Indirect Factors, Reactions, People and Events of Note After the Fact:
Point of no return:
My lucid dream ended when Christina, Executive Director of Flux Factory placed the bubble-wrapped check exuberantly in my hand and said "this is yours to take home." Her eyes said "There is no turning back."
The irony of the knockoff:
It is a Flux Factory tradition that artists make handmade "knockoffs" of the work on auction. A sly Fluxer named Alex, had been on a mission to draw things in the auction that were "not actual things." I had not been aware that he had made this drawing of the check:
Sam, an artist visiting from Australia, had somehow come to be the owner of Alex's drawing. He handed it to me at the end of the night insisting I take it because he was leaving the country for good the next day.
Holding this mockery of a mockery in my hand, with all of its dryness and beauty, I thought- This says it all. I could have just had THIS. And so set in the remorse of having spent an amount of money I was in no place to spend on something non-essential, and also potentially not meant to be purchased for real. I agreed to join Sam in a late night visit to the karaoke bar to blow off some steam.
I had met Sam weeks before at the same karaoke bar when celebrating Angela W's birthday. Interestingly, after creating a diagram like a family tree, it is clear that Angela W. is indirectly, yet integrally connected to this story on multiple levels.
Jason the antagonist
Michelle the protagonist
Doug the inspirer of bidding
Christina the one who
sealed the deal
Alex the creator of the knockoff
Sam the giver of the knockoff
Angela W, suspiciously entangled
The sale of my donated art work for $140
Yes, for exactly one dollar less than I paid for Jason's check, my artwork that I framed and donated, had sold to its highest bidder for a steal.
The $100 that I thought I had but would never receive
There had been a $100 check, mailed to me twice for a performance I did in the fall, and returned in the mail to the sender both times. To this day, I have never received this money and imagine that I never will, but I had originally expected it to arrive within a day or two of the auction.
When I started this exercise, I imagined a fun, philosophical exploration on art, value, and underlying gender dynamics. What were the circumstances that would allow two individuals, Jason, who has sworn off making "art", and myself, whose creative pursuits tend take place outside of the market, to end up in such an exchange over artistic value?
I thought that if I broke down the story, there might be hidden clues that could be revealed, some new magic that may come to light...
However, the check remained in its bubble-wrap, tucked away for so many months its monetary validity was dwindling. Advised by many to frame and hang it with the knockoff drawing as a complete story, it didn't feel like the answer.
Jason once said that when I deposit the check, what he deemed as a "collaboration" between us will be finished and the project no longer interesting...
But I have come to realize that holding on to the check is not very interesting either. It remains frozen as potential energy. Just a story. It needs to be activated in order to set off the next chain of actions that will bring it out of the hypothetical and into the real, granting it meaning beyond being an entertaining conversation piece.
Between the moment of check acquiring and now, I have been accepted to a graduate program in Digital and Interdisciplinary art, and my decision to attend presents a major turning point in my life. I have decided to use Jason's check towards the deposit required to hold my space in the program. As of April 23, Jason's check has been deposited in my account, and mine has been written and sent to the program.
Jason Eppink is now officially my patron. It means a lot to me to have the support of Jason, friend, peer, and Assistant Curator ofDigital Media at the Museum of the Moving Image, in this pivotal moment of my career. (as long as his check clears)
And so remains the drawing of the knockoff, posted with magnets on my refrigerator.