Cards Against Humanity recently bought a Picasso. And it's now asking 150,000 people to vote whether to donate it to a museum or laser-cut it into 150,000 pieces.
And I'm one of those people.
Which Picasso? Tete de Faune—a 1962 Linocut print, of which the artist made a series of 50. They haven't said which number print they bought, merely calling it an original (probably because it's more shocking to think of destroying a single original work than one of 50). But they did produce a ransom note in the form of a loving video showing the Picasso already in the laser slicer, awaiting its doom while enjoying classical music.
And who are the 150,000 people? Those of us who subscribed to CAH's Eight Sensible Gifts for Hanukkah—the brand's third (and purportedly last) annual holiday promotion. (The previous two installments, 12 Days of Holiday Bullshit and 10 Days or Whatever of Kwanzaa, had some amazing prizes. For example, I now own a square foot on an island in Maine. But this is the first social experiment they've attempted.)
Voting starts Dec. 26 and runs through Dec. 31. I have my special code ready and waiting, to place my vote. Will it end up as part of the collection at the Art Institute of Chicago, or will I receive a tiny scrap of a real Picasso to display in my home, framed over the top of the print in my best approximation of where in the jigsaw puzzle my piece came from?
Let me make the art lovers feel better by pointing out that you can't really destroy this artwork. The idea behind it will never be destroyed, and it lives on in countless digital renderings, as well as 49 more prints from the series.
What we're really asking is not whether should we destroy this artwork, but in what form should it survive? As one piece? Or as 150,000 tiny pieces that will make it go down in history? If Picasso were alive, I bet he'd be putting it on the chopping block himself, except he'd want to slice it up by hand with an antique sword from the Spanish Civil War.
If we give it to an art museum, it will most likely put it behind closed doors, locking it down to artificially drive up our desire to see it, perhaps for years. As the BBC recently noted: "The numbers don't lie. At New York's Museum of Modern Art, 24 of 1,221 works by Pablo Picasso in the institution's permanent collection can currently be seen by visitors."
You can accuse me of disliking art or Picasso, but I think of my vote to slice it up as a vote for liberation and transformation. Sticking it to the industrial art complex, striking a blow for art democracy, and making history at the same time.
I only wish CAH would tell us the number on the print they bought. I hope it's No. 1.