I think it’s brilliant how some people create art in a way so unexpected that it truly takes your breath away.
This morning I nipped in Subway and there was a piece of performance art that was so sublime that I didn’t know how to react. The audacity of it was exhilarating. The artist was merely mocking modern consumerism. The portrayal of the modern consumer was almost too vicious if you ask me. There was clearly something in the writing and performance that held a real malevolence towards the general public.
The setting of Subway was very clever. I mean everywhere has signs telling people what is available but Subway goes to the level of treating people like they are fucking morons by SPELLING OUT what you have to do in big colourful stickers that you can’t miss. And they have the bread types there.
First of all he asked for chicken sandwich. He did this after looking at the menu above the counter where there was no sandwich just called ‘chicken’ – but there are three with chicken in the name, so – at best his order was vague and confusing to the server. Clearly a comment on the nature of modern politics – people don’t know what they want even if they read the manifestos (it seemed to be saying).
“What kind of bread do you want it on?” asked the Subway man – clearly imbuing the notion of democracy and those who work as part of the electoral system.
The man asked for brown bread. Brown bread isn’t there you fucking idiot, a normal person might have thought. Bread=Money. Brown, Gordon Brown. He was talking about the economy you idiots. He was basically saying austerity is ridiculous and pointing out Gordon Brown was a great economist and was doing the right thing.
The Subway employee – clearly a part of the act – gave him wheat, suggesting that ‘the customer gets what the capitalist system gives them, regardless of what they ask for’. Subway man then asked him if he wanted cheese with that, a more obvious nod to the showbusiness at the heart of modern politics you couldn’t wish to see. He may as well have said “$2 billion electioneering in America? What a toss missile.”
The man refused the offer of cheese. Was he now representing the proportion of the electorate for whom the issues are the driving factor behind a vote? It was hard to say. The playlet finished on another change in the man’s portrayal of the voter. After being asked if he wanted his sandwich toasted or not, the man replied “warm”. Again someone looking on could have thought the man was a fucking spoon who listened to a simple question where he was given an easy yes/no option as an answer and he said something else.
Was he now the revolutionary? The anarchist? Or was he the every-man? The proletarian? The fucking moron who can’t even follow a basic system to order a sandwich in a sandwich chain store?
Whatever the answer it had certainly made me think about the bigger picture. It is true what they say about terrible governments producing the most interesting art. If we had a sensible government would I have been able to see a though provoking political/sandwich allegory in a sandwich shop?
The untitled play will continue its endless run at almost every single place that offers a basic service where there is a straight forward and obvious way to behave for the rest of time, cast subject to change.