Three days after the Art Fag City Rob Pruitt Art Awards and Auction* I headed out to Carroll Gardens. Artist Anastasios Logothetis had been inviting writers, curators and other arts professionals to Residency Unlimited for massages, and I managed to nab the last of these appointments. In return, I was expected to write something about the project. “Participants complete the work,” Logothetis told me, noting that the writing produced would be the only documentation of the piece.
This part of the conceit I wasn’t thrilled about. If art is supposed to expand your understanding of the world, Logothetis’ conceptual framework had already failed. After all, the idea of having the viewer complete the work for you is well digested by now; Duchamp issued those words close to 100 years ago. Also, the backscratching of the fine art world does not need to be made more transparent to those who work in it. The massage metaphor thusly seemed heavy-handing and I went into the experience skeptical; Careerism doesn’t add meaning to art.
These sentiments didn’t change, but I will say the actual massage was positive and worth repeating. Past the fact that I wouldn’t recommend anyone turn down a free massage, participants are asked to listen to an art narrative while lying on the table and this significantly enriches the experience. A woman speaking of a beach, public spaces, and capitalism crooned in my ears, all using an unmistakable art tempo. Meanwhile, Logothetis rubbed my back to the rhythm of her speech. I had no idea the language of art could be so recognizable through touch alone.
The average massage getter probably won’t appreciate a quality like this — only the uber-nerd would have any interest in “art touch” — but I guess that’s not such a big deal given the project perimeters. Logothetis clearly isn’t interested in opening a free massage booth for the masses. I can’t say I blame him, but I wonder what place a piece like this would have in institutions designed to serve the public.