Sunday, 20 February 2011

A masterpiece explained

I was thrilled to hear that Tanzi Twitch, the renowned conceptual artist, has won the Scunthorpe Award for International Art with her ground-breaking piece "Empty Room with Small Mouse and Bad Dream Number 17."

She was interviewed recently by art critic Sophie Slingback, who asked her about her award-winning work.

SS: So what exactly was the intention behind "Empty Room"?

TT: It was to show just how empty a room can be. The infinite emptiness of a space without content. The total absence of expected visual triggers. The absurd non-availability of pizza.

SS: Though a pizza carton did feature briefly in version number 13.

TT: That was an accident. It was left there by Stephanie, my cleaning lady.

SS: I see. But many people have said they can't see the small mouse or the bad dream.

TT: I can't help them. The small mouse and the bad dream may be there or they may not. I thought I saw the mouse yesterday morning but I may have been mistaken. It may have been a truffle. Or a waffle.

SS: What about the bad dream?

TT: There is always a bad dream, wherever you are. A nightmare is always waiting to crawl out and scare you to death. If you look, you'll see the bad dream. It's as plain as can be.

SS: The small mouse is a recurring theme in your work. What does it signify?

TT: You'll have to ask the mouse. I can't speak on its behalf. It may just signify the universal prevalence of recurring themes. Or the presence of unexpected visual triggers. Or a nearby cheese mine.

SS: I thought cheese was a dairy product.

TT: Whatever.

SS: And how would you yourself sum up this masterpiece?

TT: Empty is as empty does. Empty vessels make the most noise.

SS: Brilliant! Sheer genius!

Picture of Tanzi Twitch courtesy of the Plunkett Gallery, Cork Street, London


  1. Oh your hangover must be fierce this morning you poor lad.

  2. W3 - I can't remember the last time I had a hangover. My alcohol consumption is tiny. I do eat a lot of cheese though. From the local cheese mine.

  3. I LOVE this!!! It's perfect, and so believable.

  4. Heart - I'm always reading interviews and art criticism that's exactly like that. Some people actually take it seriously....

  5. Ramana - Tanzi is an artistic colossus. She blazes a trail that leaves others wilting on the sidelines. Who knows where she will go next?

  6. Wow. You know I did my BA in Creative Writing in an art school? And I did conceptual art as part of my degree?

    And I'm finding it difficult to follow if you've just re-printed an actual interview or if you tucked your tongue firmly into your cheek.

    Either way, just goes to prove what a load of old squit it is.


  7. Roses - Sorry, my jokes are just too deadpan sometimes. Firmly tongue in cheek it is. I'm very amused that you couldn't tell if it was genuine or not!

  8. that line "empty vessels make the most noise" is applicable on so vey many occasions

  9. Ha! This is great. I just spent an afternoon looking at conceptual art in a museum in nyc and reading the catalogue and omg this is spot on.

  10. Kylie - Indeed, it's so often the blissfully ignorant who like to hold forth on things they have absolutely no understanding of.

    Leah - Glad to know it authentically captures the zeitgeist!

    Tattytiara - I'd forgotten about Schrodinger's cat "that might be alive or dead, depending on an earlier random event". So is the small mouse alive or dead? Who can say? I'll give Schrodinger a quick ring....

  11. But Nick, the empy room, the juxaposition of mouse, cheese, pizza box and dream are sublime. Such a poignant reference to the transient quality of life & the finality of death in an oblique inescapable way. There is nothing more I can add...

  12. Scarlet - Goodness, what a wonderful new interpretation! That really gets at the essence of this remarkable oeuvre. The finality of death, hmmm, how perceptive....

  13. I'd be firing the cleaning lady!

  14. Baino - Oh, she couldn't do that, who would be left to dispose of small mice?

  15. I so love your tongue and cheek bits...

    I seem to have hit a boring patch, myself...

  16. e - Oh, I don't know, it sounds like you're doing all sorts of interesting things. Like brushing up your Spanish and chatting to retired phlebotomists....

  17. So did you have a follow-up dream in which the artwork was squatted?

  18. Val - What a wonderful idea! I expect version 18 will be fully populated with assorted squatters, high on drugs and reeking of unwashed clothes. Sorry, that's disgracefully squatterist.