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The Worst Piece of Art I Ever Made: Hot Dogs For All

How shocking! I once made a piece of art that was so bad that when it was first exhibited, all the cows mooed, all the children ran wild in the streets and all the pregnant women vomited non-stop until they were so dehydrated their eyes turned white. Ain’t that something. Local gang violence rose 3% during the exhibition and several academics contemplated suicide, etc.

Marvelously shocking! The local newspaper said something about me that I thought was mean, but didn’t fully understand. I became extremely paranoid and was unable to leave my apartment without carrying a stack of records. When I had the courage to drive, I only went as far as the local 7-Eleven where I would purchase items in sets of four: 4 hot dogs, 4 six-packs of beer, 4 packs of gum. This routine led to odd dreams and was followed by a brief stay at the state sanitarium where I was force fed anti-psychotics and TNT. I befriended a poet of sorts who was missing two fingers and smelled like Kraft BBQ sauce. Late at night we would brush our teeth and have spitting matches, decorating the mirror in cascading volumes of saliva and toothpaste. Isn’t that something. I told her I was a painter and when she asked the obligatory "house or artist?" I said I was a painter of light. "Oh, like Ted Danson." Of course. I overheard an unkempt employee suggest to an illiterate that we were lovers. I wrote letters to Joseph Kosuth and sent them to my PO box with five dollars and a request for them to be forwarded. I demanded shock therapy to forget about this piece of art and though I was denied by the hospital, I was able to receive three effective rounds by bribing a janitor who was down on his luck after betting on the Dolphins two weeks in a row. More on this later.

Mildly shocking. The piece of art was so bad that non-profit art spaces nationwide started charging admission and a local hip hop group wrote a song about me but never released it. Taxi cab drivers stopped using their meters and every dentist in town went on vacation. I asked a dealer if he had a client he could offer it to and he laughed so hard he shit his pants. A curator flew in from Berlin to see the piece and insulted me in French. I requested "extra room for cream" at the neighborhood coffee shop and the kid behind the counter said I didn’t deserve it. A new media artist in Little Rock called it quits. My cable TV provider offered me free HBO for a year if I’d stop making art. The work was denounced by a marching band at the halftime of a high school football game, etc.

Shock therapy can wipe the slate clean, or that is its purpose, to essentially negate the "bad" while sacrificing the "good."

Not too shocking. The piece of art was so bad a bus driver ran over a dog and cited my piece as the reason. Every artist collective in the country started using archival materials. Carlos Santana stopped soloing. A woman threw raw broccoli at me at a diner. I visited a natural history museum and a fossil yelled at me. A small girl came to the piece licking a lollipop and upon viewing it she stopped.

(As an aside, it’s worth noting a fairly uninteresting dream I had several years ago. In the dream, I came across Rabbi Leiptag, an old teacher of mine with whom I studied talmud in grades 7-8. Considering I was years removed from my formal Jewish studies, I was undoubtedly surprised to find Rabbi Leiptag in my dream, standing behind a chain link fence, strumming away on his guitar and singing Sugar Magnolia by the Grateful Dead.)

Maybe he bet on the Dolphins four weeks in a row. I’ll have to look up the stats. More on that later.

Though I remember the Dolphins, getting the shock therapy, even the notes to Kosuth, the piece in question still escapes me, so I decided to make a piece of art specifically for this writing that certainly could be no better than the original and is more than likely significantly worse. Inspired by a tagalong trip to an art collector’s home (and by his huge and unbelievably perfect back lawn1), Study For GREEN DAY, maquette, unique, is a proposition for an open edition sculpture/video projection unit/watering system to be specifically scaled (enlarged) to meet the demands of end user, be it private collector or public institution. It’s a sculpture in the pop tradition that functions as a video screen and waters the lawn simultaneously2. Each unit will have numerous options, speeds, etc. Keep it on dry mode, throw in your latest video acquisition and guests will be blown away, particularly after viewing the static collection in your home, half of which you yourself dismiss. Crank out a few martinis and blow some Three Stooges on it for a kid’s party and turn that spray mode full blast. One minute high art, the next high humor, how liberating is that? It’s funny, it’s functional, it’s green. It’s the worst piece of art I’ve ever made and the more I think about it, the worse it gets—the less I think about it the better.
After much deliberation I have not been able to confirm the Dolphins games on which the sanitarium’s janitor lost money, and must consider the possibility that he lied or I misunderstood, perhaps even that it was another team he had wagered on. I don’t know, there’s just something about that helmet icon with the funny little dolphin that makes me think they were the team. Maybe it’s the team’s color combinations…

Shock therapy can wipe the slate clean, or that is its purpose, to essentially negate the "bad" while sacrificing the "good."

Is that something?

1 I say this with wholehearted admiration. The lawn was amazing, the size of three football fields, overwhelming. We ran around like kids; we were all rich, we were all broke, we were all smiling, laughing even. Our voices echoed beautifully, one after the next.

2 Yes! Hot dogs, hot dogs, hot dogs, all of the kids are eating hot dogs. They’re dancing in the streets, they all have hot dogs, give them more, they’re abundant, hot dogs for all. Hot dogs.

Ludwig Schwarz is an artist living in Dallas.

Check out the first in our "True Confessions" series:

Michael Bise’s "The Worst Piece of Art I Ever Made: The Black Box"

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