Act 1: Chapter 8 – PUNCH Takes a Poop

I ignore calls from numbers that have no appointment and no personal connection to me. So when Kate Weber called she left a message. I did not recognize the name but she said she was writing for The Art Machine, so I doubted that it was anything of import. And I’d have let it drop completely but Max called a few minutes after Weber and sounded quite worried.

—Punch, I know we’re not quite on the same page lately but —

—Max, don’t even.

—Listen: just don’t take any interviews right now. Not this close to BASEL. Not this time of year. And not while we’re bickering. Kay? It’s just not at all a good time.

—What in fuck are you talking about?

—I happen to know Panopticon Experimental has taken an interest in the gallery. It’s not good. I don’t need an exposé at a time like this when I just don’t think we look good naked. Get it?

—Do you even hear yourself? Why would Panopticon give a shit about Max Poe Galleries?

—Maybe they smell dissent?

—They don’t give two turds about dissent.

—Maybe they think it’s got roots.

—Maybe you got roots. Grey roots. Digging into your brain.

—Not now. Okay?


Serious artists, mind you, regard the Art Machine, as a gossip rag. Its original aim to be “an eclectic platform for irreverent discussions about art” is mostly forgotten in a ten-year history of amateur criticism, art world gossip, and truly useless bits of avant-left re-interpretations of stereotyped “history” that no one in an adult frame of mine could finish without bursting into flames. So I made no connection between Weber’s call and Max’s warnings about Panopticon.

But then I took a poop.

I rarely multi-task, but pooping is such non-being that I find it handy to keep a pile of magazines ready for lengthy endeavors, And so it was that I spotted The Vanity Fair cover peeping out from under a New Yorker.

Didn’t it have a Panopticon Exec on it and wasn’t she—? Yep.

There she was, Kate Weber, clustered with the money and tech people, Pez Meyer of Art Fund, Reese Pearson of ArtSlant, Piers Brennon of Continuum Art Storage, Paul Rudyard of Art Coin. Her attribution was not The Art Machine, but Panopticon Experimental. Her sarcastic smile was suddenly familiar.

I keep my phone handy too. Lola Boeys answered my text right away.

Yes, Art world money scandals are her thing: she researched the interview that Charbon did with Continuum concerning the legalities of global art sales conducted from warehouse to warehouse in order to avoid taxes and cultural property protections. They came out rosy if you ask me; but I’m old school.

That Max. What’s he hiding? It can’t be just our little creative skirmishes. What was Weber after? I pondered this while flipping through to Weber’s small profile mid magazine.

Boo responded to my message with an eye roll gif. But I remembered her comment about how we should “Charbon” Max. I thought about her complaint that Max had only signed her on to “add fascination” to the roster. I thought about Monday, how Max signed him up immediately out of nowhere and was pushing him on me. It was all quite out of character, actually. It was devoid of aesthetic consideration.

What was, I asked myself, the one goddam thing Max and I had always bonded on? The work. The love for process and realization. And why was he getting under my skin lately? He’d abandoned the work. He was sneering at the work. Monday is a goddam insult. And Boo’s just a kid. Upstarts. Spectacle mongers and shallow jokesters.

I’m washing my hands while I recall

pieromanzoni_merda d'artista
pieromanzoni_merda d’artista

his visit to my studio. Dumping it all on me. Calling on me, not to discuss my work — not to discuss anything besides my auction prices and some crappy collector who’s dumping my work. It’s downright unprofessional. Does he really think I see myself as a goddam employee? That’s what I’ll tell Kate Weber. I’ll tell her Max has lost track of what it means to work with artists. To really work with them. I’ll tell her it’s some sort of midlife crises.



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