I’m not lovin’ it
We don’t relish the opportunity to tell you this, but an artist has exhibited a single slice of pickle on the ceiling of a New Zealand gallery, and it comes with a price tag of more than £5,000.
Simply titled Pickle, the readymade artwork – lifted straight from a McDonald’s cheeseburger – was hurled onto the roof at Auckland’s Michael Lett Gallery by the Australian artist Matthew Griffin. Apparently, it’s attached with nothing other than the sticky sauce it came with, and shows no sign of budging, which isn’t particularly surprising if you’ve seen that TikTok about a 20-year-old McDonald’s burger that shows no sign of age.
“But is it art?” you ask. Well, Ryan Moore, the director of Fine Arts, Sydney, which represents Griffin, says that it doesn’t really matter. “Generally speaking, artists aren’t the ones deciding whether something is art is not,” he tells the Guardian. “They are the ones who make and do things. Whether something is valuable and meaningful as artwork is the way that we collectively, as a society, choose to use it or talk about it.”
Apparently, this is where the value in Pickle (2022) lies. Using humour, Moore adds, it questions “the way value and meaning is generated between people”.
With a hefty price tag of NZ$10,000 it also sends a pretty stark message about how value is created between galleries and collectors with more money than sense – of course, that won’t necessarily stop someone from buying it.
The thing is, haven’t we already been over this? Maurizio Cattelan’s Comedian similarly slapped a phallic perishable on a gallery wall, all the way back in 2019. Selling for $120,000, the banana-based artwork eventually ended up in the Guggenheim collection (and at the centre of an ongoing legal dispute) but it seems unlikely that Griffin’s Pickle will enjoy the same fate, given that it missed the boat by three years.
If someone does fork out thousands for it, however, then the conceptual artwork will work in much the same way as Comedian – i.e. the actual, physical pickle is besides the point. What’s actually transferred is the instructions to install the pickle in your own exhibition space (spoiler alert: you just peel it off the bun and flick it at the ceiling). Alternatively, they could just pop down to McDonald’s and get it at a £5,000 discount.