‘Pickle’ by matthew griffin
In 2019, Maurizio Cattelan had taped a banana on the wall for Art Basel Miami Beach 2019 and sold it for 120,000 USD before someone ate it. Today, a similar incident price- and act-wise has come forward. Australian artist Matthew Griffin ordered a McDonald’s burger, stepped into Michael Lett Gallery in Auckland, took out a pickle from his supposed meal, and threw it on the gallery’s ceiling as an exhibition design. Now, the gallery says the public art costs 10,000 NZD (approximately 6,300 USD as of publishing the story), a hundred-fold of the burger’s original price.
Fine Arts, Sydney – the gallery that represents the artist – even dubs the stunt as a sculpture, now on display at Michael Lett until July 30th. Titled ‘Pickle’, the sculpture forms part of the exhibition of work from Fine Arts, Sydney’ program at the invitation of Michael Lett, hosted at their Karangahape Road gallery space. The show includes four new works by each of the four artists the gallery represents, each exhibited for the first time. The themes these works touch upon, including Pickle, are related to transience, distance, and time. From here, flinging the pickle from the ground up is an example of distance.
Is mcdonald’s pickle art now?
While at first it might look like a prank, reading the caption written by Fine Arts, Sydney in its Instagram post may overturn the thought. The gallery even published the detailed ingredients of the McDonald’s burger to accompany the sculpture. Viewers have commented with mixed reactions with one of them leading the discussion with ‘part of a rich late-night tradition.’ Another user shared their story by writing ‘I got kicked out of a Mcdonald’s by the police for doing this when I was a teenager. Now, it’s art.’ Other users just left an emoji as a comment, the kind they sent eliciting a positive reception.
Ryan Moore – the director of Fine Arts, Sydney – told The Guardian that he appreciates his artist’s work through his use of humor, an occurring theme in contemporary art, and the way it questions value generated between people. He shares that when it comes to identifying Griffin’s work as art, he is not bothered by it, stating that generally speaking, the role of artists is to make and do things and not to decide whether something is art or not.
Matthew Griffin, ‘Pickle’, 2022
Part of fine arts, sydney exhibition
The exhibition at Michael Lett by Fine Arts, Sydney is accompanied by the work of artist Juliette Blightman which comprises a potted plant and sound played through a small speaker. The plant is a ‘Pseudopanax’, doubling as the title of the work. The sound is an hour in duration, looped continuously, which includes an ambient recording of a quiet countryside that crescendoes with layers including nightclub music, vocals, and the screech of underground trains in rush hours. Hanging on a wall, a work by Prudence Flint comes as a pencil drawing on paper of a seated woman eating a banana. Then, a work by Yona Lee points toward a sculpture comprising a structure of welded stainless steel tube on the wall with an electric light and lampshade. The exhibition covers the parts of its space: a drawing and a lamp on the wall, a plant on the floor, and a pickle on the ceiling.
close-up view of Griffin’s pickle art on the gallery’s ceiling
Juliette Blightman, ‘Pseudopanax’
the exhibition at Michael Lett by Fine Arts, Sydney will run until July 30th, 2022