In our era of dwindling attention spans and bloated media outlets hungry for eyeballs, there’s been a lot of talk about people not caring for the foundational and civilizing practices that separate humans from dirty swine (the few to begin with). God’s been dead since 1882, people are foregoing families for their careers in finance or marketing or whatever, and Kickstarter currently funds more “creative projects” — i.e. iPhone accessories and movies by those already rich and famous — than the National Endowment of the Arts. Depending on your age, life-philosophy, and career, you may think that these things are good, bad, or some nuanced point in between. But the bigger and more pressing question is: Does anyone care what you think?
Autumn Casey, an artist living in West Palm Beach who works often in Miami, hosted a show called “A competition of who can care the least” at the 3815 building off North Miami Court in the Design District, the most recent location of the nomadic gallery/roving event programmer SPRING BREAK. The show was an open call for artists (and non-artists) to submit work that fit the parameter outlined in the title. Casey conceived the idea after watching a YouTube video of Thurston Moore interviewing Beck and scrolling through the comments, wherein one astute troll remarked, “Wow, it’s like a competition of who can care less.” A panel of esteemed experts on the subject judged the entrees: Rat Bastard, Luciano Guidini, and Domingo Castillo and Patti Hernandez of SPRING BREAK. Once the artists were done installing the work, the judges and crowd visited the works — each of which contained a yellow sticker with a number next to it — and studied the submitted entry forms, discussing them openly and candidly with the audience.
Robert Cardenas had knocked over a piece of metal that was hanging from the ceiling and left it lying on the floor. Sleeper submitted an empty picture frame. David Bennett indiscriminately stationed a pile of trash that included an empty six-pack container, a crumpled Ultra flyer, and two empty bottles, which he said signify a “post-response to pre-second Wave post-global consumerism and emerging markets.” P. Scott Cunningham’s entry was the form itself, where he’d scribbled, “I had to go eat.”
The judges varied in their criteria for choosing the best work. Castillo said his was choosing a piece that fit “somewhere between romanticism, nihilism, and consumerism,” while Hernandez and Bastard were adjudicating based on a practical measure of least effort. Daniel Files was immediately disregarded for having laid out dozens of tea light candles that read “The End Never Came,” as was Rebecca Pena for her illustrations. As the judges and crowd moved around the gallery, they discussed the pieces in a democratic manner, forming consensus over what qualified work that literally or embodied not-giving-a-shit. Guidini exemplified the spirit of the show when, upon coming to Casey’s piece — a sledgehammer resting against a full-length mirror — he dutifully and without cue smashed the mirror and left everyone aghast.
The winner of the show was Robert Cachinero, who didn’t even know he had submitted since Sleeper had done it for him. When the judges came to his entry form, they found a yellow sticker containing the number 14, denoting the work, in the “Description of work” portion of the form. The runner-up was Kenny Millions’ blow-up doll, who stood dead-eyed in the corner with a paintbrush taped in hand and a piece of paper on the wall adjacent with a few red smudges on it. Kenny Millions, the jazz and noise musician profiled previously on Salty Eggs, said it was the highlight of his career. In the art world, you’re expected to think deeply about the work, but are considered a sap if you gush too much about anything. “A competition of who could care less” simultaneously addressed these codes of decorum, suggesting that you don’t have to be involved to get involved, and that even if you do — no one really cares anyway.
–By Rob Goyanes