in Features | 15 MAY 09
Featured in
Issue 124


Et tu Brute, then fall, Caesar! 

in Features | 15 MAY 09

To: Jean-Phillippe Obu-Stevenson
From: January Cocteau-Lund
Subject: Et tu Brute, then fall, Caesar! 

Dear Jean-Phillippe Obu-Stevenson, It is with great bitterness that I write to you after more than a decade of silence. One of my patients has drawn my attention to your recent exhibition at the Lost Luggage Office of Schiphol Airport, ‘He That Has Eyes to See and Ears to Hear May Convince Himself that No Mortal Can Keep a Secret’. It is clear to me that certain elements in your show appear to have been ‘borrowed’ from me (a generous word, considering the crime!!) without any acknowledgment of an idea I discussed IN CONFIDENCE with you many years ago and which I still hoped to manifest in some form one day. I do not believe for a second that the conversation we had that unforgettable night on the moonlit bridge of the Stalliontamers’ yacht, L’Evasion Fiscale, while touring the Society Islands for our exhibition ‘Factoidingizing the Ante-Relational Thenness of Now’ which we so proudly put together in the Customs Hall of Huahine, could have slipped your mind. Without further ado, I DEMAND an explanation of your betrayal.

January Cocteau-Lund Rocky and Ludmilla Stalliontamer Curator for Contemporary Solace, The St Lucy Hospice for De-Materializing Artists, Guernsey

To: January Cocteau-Lund
From: Jean-Phillippe Obu-Stevenson
Cc: Keith Gorgon 

Subject: Re: Et tu Brute, then fall, Caesar!

My dear January, Whilst I could never forget that moonlit night when we sipped raspberry daiquiris and read excerpts from Frederic Jameson’s Reflections on the Brecht-Lukács Debate to each other, I think you’ve been working at that hospice far too long. It’s time you got with it! ‘H.T.H.E.T.S.A.E.T.H.M.C.H.T.N.M.C.K.A.S’ uses curatorial device-stratagems obviously designed as a critique of 1970s’ Appropriation art. Clearly, I have not ‘borrowed’ your ideas, but have ‘appropriated’ them as a two-fingered gesturality-movement aimed at those sectors of the art world (for instance, ALL OF IT) that have so shamelessly ‘borrowed’ from my own groundbreaking curatorial praxis. I am cc-ing Keith Gorgon in on this email, as I am sure the writer of ‘The Leaves of the Trees Commit Suicide Every Year, But Still they Grow’ will have something to say about the eternal return not only of curatorial ideas, but also of women who choose to moan about nothing at the drop of a proverbial hat. May I give you some advice? Instead of complaining that the rosebush is full of thorns, be happy that the thorn bush has roses!

Jean-Phillippe Obu-Stevenson Shurasagi Sushi Bar Lounge 2 Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam

To: January Cocteau-Lund, Jean-Phillippe Obu-Stevenson
From: Keith Gorgon
Subject: Re: Re: Et tu Brute, then fall, Caesar! 

January, Jean-Philippe, By engaging with your discourse I would be fundamentally compromising the commitment I made in 1972, at a secret moonlight ceremony above The Speckled Marx pub in Leeds, to devote myself to a lifetime pursuit of humourless, drab and impenetrable arguments about emergent post-Conceptual neo-praxis.

Keith Gorgon Staines

To: Jean-Phillippe Obu-Stevenson
From: Name Withheld
Subject: Forgive Me! 

Dear Jean-Phillippe Obu-Stevenson, I am writing to you from the terrace of the St Lucy Hospice for De-Materializing Artists. That kindest of souls, January Cocteau-Lund, has just this moment wrapped a rug around my knees, and has popped off to make me a cocoa – so forgive my haste: I do not have much time before she returns and the high winds here make the wi-fi connection quite erratic. I feel I must defend her recent action in writing to you, of which she has informed me, and which has pained me to the core. It was I that told her, quite innocently, of your exhibition at Schiphol airport, of which I was informed by my niece, Consuelo, who has been lucky enough to be your intern for the past 13 years (any chance she might get paid one day?). I would like to say that I hold you only in the highest esteem and have, for many years, longed to see you again – ever since, in fact, that long-ago moonlit night we shared on the terrace of Nepal’s Grand Hotel during the installation of your seminal exhibition ‘Look at the Poor People on their Lovely Horses! The Poeticalistic Semiotics of Hill-Tribe Saddles’ in the breakfast room of the Kathmandu Youth Hostel in ’87. I had no idea that my information would pain January, or indeed, cause any rift between the two of you. Forgive me.


To: Name Withheld
From: Jean-Phillippe Obu-Stevenson
Subject: Re: Forgive me! 

Whilst I shall never forget that moonlit night – especially the Himalayan mohitos which certainly greased the wheels of our analysis of Diedrich Diederichsen’s essay ‘Which Side Are You On, Cultural Worker?’ – I think you’ve been living at that hospice far too long. ‘H.T.H.E.T.S.A.E.T.H.M.C.H.T.N.M.C.K.A.S’ uses curatorial device-stratagems obviously designed as a critique of the interfering busybody you have so obviously become. As my students on the Contemporary Plagiarism MA in Scunthorpe might put it, TALK TO THE HAND COS THE EYEBALLS AIN’T LISTENING!

Jean-Phillippe Obu-Stevenson

PS That snake in the grass YOUR NIECE Consuelo, aka Miss Philby, Burgess AND Maclean, is no longer in my employ. Please organize for someone to collect her belongings from the Broom Cupboard next to the sushi bar in Lounge 2.

To: Jean-Phillippe Obu-Stevenson
From: Boyd Smarmfellow
Subject: Cool Documentary 

Hey Jean-Phillippe, Your name was passed on to me by this friend who saw a blog somewhere about art and sort of remembered you being mentioned in relation to some show in the lost luggage department of some cool airport in Norway or something. I am currently working on a TV documentary about the contemporary art world and was wondering whether you might consent to being interviewed for it? I’m interested in taking an informed, objective and broad look at a range of important issues in contemporary art, including money, cash, wealth, finance and rich people. Sound cool? So far, I’ve also secured interviews with leading artists and experts including Banksy and Sir Elton John.

Yours sincerely Boyd Smarmfellow, West London

To: Boyd Smarmfellow
From: Jean-Phillippe Obu-Stevenson
Subject: Re: Cool Documentary 

My dear Boyd, I would be delighted to meet with you and discuss what sounds like a fascinating and timely documentary. I will be in London next week. Might I suggest we meet on the roof terrace of The Poisoned Barrel, in Hackney on Wednesday? The moon, I am told, will be full; such a wonderful lubricant to conversation, I find.

Sincerely, Jean-Phillipe Obu Stevenson Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam

To: Jean-Phillippe Obu-Stevenson
From: Boyd Smarmfellow
Subject: Re: Re: Cool Documentary

yea cool c u there i’ll bring banksy if he’s free