Sunday, January 13, 2019

Heist on the Road to Arles - Part 2: Adding Insult to Injury

In "Heist on the Road to Arles" (right column) I recounted the details of the theft of one of my images from a recent photography exhibit. As a misguided coping mechanism I adopted the flimsy, delusional rationalization that the theft wasn't all bad since it indicated that the piece was liked and therefore had attained genuine "art" status via its abduction. This sequel is the painful conclusion of that portion of my personal journey along the Road to Arles.

In the weeks since the heist, authorities queried art fences, scourged pawn shops and scrutinized the collections of local art aficionados to no avail. Just as the sting of this painful ordeal was beginning to fade from my memory I received the ultimate call from the gallery to inform me that the piece was most likely lost forever.

The exhibit was not insured either by the gallery or by me.  Who figured a piece of mine would be lifted directly off the wall of a public exhibit venue? Anyway, in the course of the discussion I magnanimously informed the gallery that they need not worry about it, much to their relief.

And then came the insult.

I'm sure it was not intended as such, but a bruising insult it was none the less. You see, in trying to resolve what to do about the loss, the gallery board had discussed possible compensation, deciding to offer to compensate me for my loss - the loss of the frame that is!  After all, the stolen art was 'only a photograph' and it would be easy to make another; "it wasn't like a painting which would be difficult to replace."

I was stunned that the net value of my stolen art was assessed as zero by this crazy compensatory calculus!  As if that weren't bad enough, this valuation (or devaluation as it turns out) even undermined my original rationalization for the theft, causing me to question whether the thief had ever really liked the print in the first place. Perhaps they only wanted the frame! A double whammy!

"Oh the humanity!"

Once I had overcome my shocked incredulity I realized that the insult was far more painful than the original injury. But don't worry. Unlike my patron artist - Vincent, I still have every intention of keeping both of my ears.

This whole experience did give me an idea for my next exhibit though, so it wasn't a total loss.

I plan to just hang empty frames in an exhibit entitled 'Framed'.  Call it 'protest art.'

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