Fear and Loathing in Macquarie Uni

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Words || Max Lewis

First and foremost, I want to apologise to my dear mother, whose eyes are probably widening as she reads this. Don’t worry! I’m not dead! I wrote this weeks ago!! I am, however, sorry you must add this article to your scrapbook of ‘Reasons my son continues to disappoint me, parts V-XI’.

This article was inspired by a simple yet engrossing question: what happens when a simple boy like me gets high in the middle of the day and visits the Mermaid exhibition (open now!) at the fancy Macquarie Art Gallery and pretends to be a completely sober art/mermaid enthusiast? Does he green out and enter the foetal position in a crowded gallery? Does he pretend to be one of the artists and accidentally sell a painting? With deadlines looming and this age-old question burning in my head, I took it upon myself to find an answer, in the name of student journalism.

My first mistake was choosing to do my investigation the day after our wonderful group challenge, wherein many paint-stained glasses of wine were consumed by your stupid author. There was no better start to the most dangerous investigation of my life than waking up at midday still drunk and dangerously dehydrated. After a quick shower to invigorate my senses and wash paint off myself, I slowly got dressed while having an out-of-body experience and wishing I was dead – I hadn’t even gotten high yet. I only had a small amount of the devil’s lettuce left, so I was hoping that, because I was already quite out of it from the hangover and I had not eaten in fifteen hours, I could get a solid buzz on by the time I made it to the gallery.

When I found the art gallery I was fucking blazed. The half-hour walk did wonders in making me feel progressively higher with every breath. I took pensive steps through the doors of the chancellery, trying to remember if I know how to be a socially functional human being and realising with a start that I never had that knowledge to begin with. It was one o’clock on a Wednesday, and to my surprise/ quasi-disappointment, the gallery was completely empty. I contemplated which was worse as I gazed at the acrylic mermaids littering the room. On one hand, I wouldn’t have to talk to anybody – on the other, there’s nothing more suspicious than a young, sweaty man staring intently at mermaid breasts in a completely empty art gallery. I could hear voices and footsteps echoing around from everywhere and my heart began to pound; how do I explain why the fuck
I’m here in the middle of the day all by myself?

Nobody entered the gallery while I was in there, but I spent my time amongst the art paranoid and so very confused. The last thing I wanted was to be caught staring at a painting of a murdered, naked mermaid apropos of nothing. I stepped away from the paintings and perused the rest of the exhibition. A thought kept bouncing in my head; why mermaids? I tried reading the info adjacent to each piece but found myself unable to parse what the fuck they meant. The individual words made sense but together it was like trying to read a book upside-down until you realise it’s in a completely foreign language. I normally like to be very open minded when it comes to art, and I believe it can exist in any form. This time, though, my stoned brain was having none of that. I stared bleary-eyed at each piece. Why is that mermaid using a laptop? Does a pair of oars mounted on a
wall count as art? Personal highlights included the video art of a shirtless man dancing to Sade that looked like a deleted scene from Tim & Eric’s Awesome Show, and a piece that consisted of a flattened snake and a bunch of condoms. I think I stared at the latter the longest, confused and a little disgusted but eventually coming to the realisation that that sure is some art.

I don’t mean to rag on the artists and their frankly stunning work here; the art was genuinely impressive and shit, it’s just that I could not wrap my head around a single bit of it. I should have let myself go and enjoyed looking at a chair covered in seashells or something, but instead I became obsessed with the minutiae and kind of went a little insane. I spent an unclear amount of time staring at photographic prints on a wall that were allegedly metal, and wanting to touch them to see what they felt like. Particular names cropped up more than others, and I wondered why they had so much work on display. Is there a shortage of mermaid-themed artists? Is this a market just waiting to be tapped?

My grasp on reality slowly unraveling, I decided to leave before someone came in and I asked them, wide eyed and frothing at the mouth, if mermaids actually existed. As casually as somebody trying to play off the fact they just tripped over on a crowded street, I left the gallery and found my way back to campus, certain every person I passed could tell I was high. I didn’t feel like I was controlling my legs yet I was hyper-focused on ensuring I didn’t trip over, somehow avoiding anybody I knew.

I normally like to have a moral at the end of each of my articles; a nice little knowledge nugget your brain can chew on long after you’ve stopped reading. Instead, I think it’s your turn, dear reader, to find your own message in my semi-stoned ramblings. My words are like individual paint strokes in a beautiful painting, however it’s safe to say on this occasion it’s a painting of some dog shit. What that dog shit represents is up to you! After all, there is no wrong answer when it comes to art.