The end is night: Crowds and power
A low murmur passed through the crowd when I entered the room. Then everyone fell silent and all you could hear was quiet whispering: “He’s arrived!” “Is that really him?” “Yes, that’s him!” “He’s looking good!” “He looks even better than in the photos.” “He looks really intelligent!” “Funny!” “ … and kind!”
A smug smile flitted over my face, and I was just about to start writing my phone number onto small scraps of paper that I had prepared earlier and pass them to ALL the female guests in the room when I noticed that the whispering wasn’t on my account at all but for Anselm Reyle, who had walked into the room right behind me.
Then Christian Jankowski was already rushing up to us: “Anselm, Rafi, great to see you!” He looked inquisitively at the crumpled-up scrap of paper that I handed to him as I wished him a happy birthday. “Now come on in and have a drink!”
After being upstaged like this I was obviously very angry at Reyle, but also glad to be in the company of two of the most important living artists at the same time. I gave Jankowski his real present, a pornographic postcard from Victorian London, and then I was dying to know what Reyle was doing all day long since he had proclaimed his retirement from artmaking a year ago.
And as Reyle then began explaining his very own Étant donnés to me, I was so flabbergasted and electrified that I had to sit down. I had never heard of anything like it! We chatted a bit longer about this and that, and then began talking about the wall-decoration-objects I had started making recently, which looked not only a little but, to be honest, exactly the same as Anselm Reyle’s stripe paintings. “That may be true,” I said, “but of course you know that they aren’t art but wall-decoration-objects”. Reyle saw the sense in that. “Totally,” he said, “because if you call them wall-decoration- objects instead of art, then they are obviously not art, but wall-decoration- objects!”
At this point our conversation was brought to an abrupt close by the shrill chirping of my mobile. It was Magnus Resch, the most controversial art theorist of our time! “Guess where I am right now? I’m in New York!” He had just gotten tenure at Columbia University and now he had all the time in the world to devote to the book we were working on together, The Management of Interior Furnishings Stores. “But the most important thing is that you immediately get a storefront on Park Avenue,” I shouted into the white noise of my mobile, “for the Horzons Wanddekorationsobjekte flagship store!” “I’ll get on it tomorrow,” he said, “but first I have some important advice for the pricing structure: you have to significantly increase the prices of your objects! Because customers only get that it is something valuable, if it’s really expensive!”
This was of course an excellent idea. I jumped into my limousine, which was waiting in front of Jankowski’s loft, and barked out the destination: “St. Agnes Cathedral, pedal to the metal!” released the handbrake and sped off. On the way to Johann König’s church I thought about Resch’s advice. “Significantly increase the prices,” is what he’d said. What did he mean by it? Probably an increase of several thousand per cent!
There was an incredible throng at the opening gala of König’s church.
After an hour I finally found König and immediately cut to the chase. “Johann, all of this stuff here is pointless. You have to close your gallery at once!”
Johann König was so taken aback that he dropped his glass of tiramisu onto the floor. “Come again? You can’t be serious!” “Johann, do you want to stay at this level for ever? You could close the gallery and turn this place into König’s Interior Design Store, and finally start earning the big bucks! I could give you an exclusive distribution deal on Horzon’s wall-decoration-objects! The thing is, they now cost 600,000 euros apiece! And half of it is yours!” At this point König pricked up his ears. “Ok, let’s do it! I’ll give you a call next week!”
I just couldn’t believe it! I had rolled out the red carpet and now Mr. König was requesting a week to think about it! I really liked the guy, but sometimes life is about being able to make decisions. “Then I’ll just do it myself!” I exclaimed to my front-seat passenger Carl Jakob Haupt as I was getting into the limousine, “or, rather, we’ll do it together. You’ll be head of sales for Horzons Wanddekorationsobjekte and we’ll pocket the 600,000 per item ourselves, with NO deductions for the middleman!” All the way to the grand boulevard Unter den Linden we were cheered by the thought of the huge amounts of money we were about to make. Then we finally arrived, just in time for the official speeches in the Kronprinzenpalais. A liveried waitress politely let me know that smoking was not allowed indoors. I looked around helplessly, but in a place where smoking was not allowed there were of course no ashtrays either. “Dispose of this,” I told a good-looking renaissance man who happened to be standing next to me, and I passed him my glowing cigarette butt. To my horror the man – who, I later learned, was the world’s leading Duchamp expert, Dr. Thomas Girst – simply tossed the glowing cigarette into his mouth, chewed on it, and gulped it down. Staring in disbelief, sales director Carl Jakob Haupt asked, “Isn’t that unhealthy?” He had just arrived with two carefully balanced glasses of wine, each filled to the brim. He emptied one of them in a single swig and poured the other one onto his head without saying a word. It was high time to go to a different room. Out of one corner of my eye I spotted Angela Merkel making a beeline for us to find out what the fuss was about; out of another I saw Dr. Girst walking back into the party from the smoking balcony with an overflowing ashtray, throwing one cigarette butt after the other into his mouth as if they were peanuts. Horrified, we ran into the Kronprinzen Bar, where the gala party was just peaking. Small glass cases with mind-bogglingly expensive watches in them had been mounted on the walls. “Audemars Piguet,” I spluttered out in shock and immediately set about prying open the glass cases with the cutlery I had pocketed at dinner. In the ensuing melee with the bouncers who suddenly beset me on all sides, I briefly lost consciousness and only regained it as sales director Carl Jakob Haupt was pulling me feet-first down the huge flight of stairs in front of the Kronprinzenpalais. Then I blacked out for good ….
Rafael Horzon is an entrepreneur and writer. He lives in Berlin.