The Outsideness of George Michael

There’s nothing here but flesh and bone
There’s nothing more, nothing more
There’s nothing more
Let’s go outside
Dancing on the d-train baby

“Let’s go outside” was the call that echoed across the office on Wednesday, midmorning. Spring sunshine was coming through the windows of the oppressively air-conditioned office and winter germs were still lingering in clouds around nonetheless professionally decontaminated desks. You didn’t need to ask twice.

My manager, running late, had passed The George Michael Collection at Christie’s the other morning and suggested our department all go, for no reason other than it might be interesting. I said, halfway through an important email, perhaps a little too loudly, “Fuck it!”, and grabbed my coat, happy to have an excuse to leave the stifling office.

I found myself quite pleasantly surprised by the whole thing. It was enthralling. I’ve been to art fairs before and even auction houses but nothing quite like this. As nauseating as the posh hoards can be, the day is often justified by the spectacle of some old duchess gazing into the cosmic arsehole of an abstract expressionist painting and declaring, “Oh I never in my life thought I’d see you again!” What decadent depravities those eyes must have seen…

This was very much the vibe of the George Michael Collection and it might have been one of the most surreal art-viewing experiences I’ve ever had. A survey of ’90s British art, for the most part, largely produced by the YBAs, soundtracked by George Michael’s greatest hits. There were giant images of George Michael himself scattered throughout the “exhibition” with vultures everywhere buying up the dead man’s possessions in this glittering mausoleum. This isn’t a comment made entirely cynically — so much of the artwork collected was about death, it was hard not to come away with that feeling.

Having wandered around for a while, I eventually found myself hypnotised by the mutated cock on the face of a Chapman brothers Bellmer-esque monstrosity, my eyes glazing over to the sounds of “Careless Whisper“. I thought about how differently I imagined my day would unfold when I woke up this morning.

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