Saturday Night and Sunday Morning & X-raying Feet
frivolous trinkets that can be churned out in Chinese factories. The rest is number crunching, it’s academic.
Everywhere Van Gogh happened to live or pass by, these random locales, are seized on, preserved and manipulated to take advantage of his world status. The rare atmosphere of the twelth century cloister of the still active St Paul hospital near St Remy, a quiet reserved place once visited by a handful-of pilgrims, has now been disastrously compromised by the establishment of a souvenir shop and the so called ‘Van Gogh’s room’. Now painting tours gather there, chattering their way through the cloister to the shop and coach parties deliver tourists who take their identical pictures on their phones stood in the purpose-built lavender field behind. Van Gogh’s last simple bedroom in Auvers-sur-Oise, in France, is a tiny space, a capsule of the past grafted onto a multimedia installation and interactive visitor centre next door. His room identical to countless others long destroyed, somehow exists, is visited by thousands each year who trudge up the old preserved wooden stairs, enter the modest space, turn around and go back down, almost as if performing a choreographed ritual, so specific and deliberate are their movements. Such movements are echoed in the hiding place of Anne Frank in Amsterdam, for today in cramped attics and mean little pension rooms where half-crazed occupants suffered unimaginable grief and despair, the novelty-seeking pass through in minutes, a little awkwardly and deliberately, almost as if following unheard instructions. Seekers from around the globe, drawn to the nectar of Van Gogh’s colours, their bright anoraks ironically incongruous themselves against the rural landscape, are seen wandering around Auvers, searching for the infamous wheat field, cameras primed. Travesties pile upon travesties in the name of poor Van Gogh, who in his lifetime was subjected to ridicule and indifference by the forebears of those who now stock up on his image in the museum named after him. Vermeer, Rembrandt and others follow on behind, forced to perform for us in perpetuity in a veritable commercialised danse macabre. If they are famous enough and they are dead, all get the same treatment, because it has been proved to work. No intelligible answer is now possible, and no further questions are likely to be asked.