How much muck could a Pinchuk fuck if a Pinchuk could fuck muck?
As of last Saturday night, only nine people had viewed the YouTube vid of the presentation of the $100,000 Victor Pinchuk award to some forgettable Brazilian artist who combines dance and collage to make a subtle political statement, or something or other.
Held in a bare bones auditorium in Kiev, the ceremony was hosted by a thick-voiced Slavic centerfold type and a fawning Brit Ryan Seacrest lookalike, whose main task was to project portrait photos of Eli Broad, Glenn Lowry, Miucca Prada and other unmentionables who made up the Ukrainian oligarch's selection committee. Everybody was invited up on stage for a neofascist group hug, except for Yale dean Rob Storr, who is snapped jealously regarding his frenemy Okwui Enwezor, as the African steps across the footlights.
The artist mentors are interviewed: Jeff Koons blandly saying something about "opportunities for young artists" and Damien Hirst enviously remarking that he would "rather receive awards then give them." The Seacrestian comrade then hauls Messrs. Gursky and Murakami on stage, observing that "this is the first time all four of these artists are in the same place together." And the next time any of them actually fabricate their own artworks will also be the first time.
The 21 under-35 young artist finalists are also in the room and the 20 also-rans are given "the opportunity for press availability" with our art stars. I guess the Greyhound bus home from Kiev must take awhile. Paradoxically (or maybe not), the least fawning, most genuine and plainspoken participant in this grotesque "circle jerk" (to borrow a favorite critical term of my colleague Jerry Saltz) is the founder of the feast, Victor Pinchuk, a dead ringer for actor Ed O'Neiil, star of Married with Children and Modern Family.
Echoing his youth in the Soviet Boys Brigade, Pinchuk sincerely pleads with young artists to follow their vision. Next time, Victor should ditch the spoiled art elites and just hand the $100,000 check to his winner over a takeout cup of borscht.
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).