This judgmental lioness, who lives at the Met, got me thinking about the incredible, vast, unknowable piles of crap we humans have created.
This gets me, sometimes, when I am in a drugstore. Occasionally a grocery store, but usually at a Rite-Aid or a Duane Read. I look at the rows of bottles of shampoo and consider all the bottles of shampoo I’ve ever bought and then all the bottles of shampoo my friends have ever bought and then all the bottles that have ever been in whatever store I’m in and eventually, it is impossible to think about without breaking my brain.
I worked at the Met for a few months when I first moved to New York – I applied and interviewed for the job while I was visiting a month before my move date, and left that visit with a job. A low-paying, part-time retail job, but a job nonetheless. It was a terrible move, one of the ridiculously bad decisions that have been the hallmark of my adult life, cutting my income to a quarter of what it had been when I was living in Los Angeles – a city that is, ridiculously, actually cheaper to live in than New York. But when you’re 27-going-on-28 and have never really made a good decision in your life, perspective is a little difficult.
Those first few months in New York were ridiculously bad, but also ridiculously good. I was poorer than I ever knew was possible, and I learned that cloth flats were not actually good snow shoes. But I was in love and had friends and there was a giddiness to it that made it bearable. And even though the job at the Met was terrible, terrible, terrible, it did mean that I could walk around the museum for free (when I wasn’t working) and that is something I absolutely did.
Despite that freedom, I am certain that I’ve only seen maybe half of what they have on permanent display, and I am also aware that that is only a tiny portion of the piles of crap (“art”) that they actually own. This lioness, though, with her perplexed-and-annoyed expression, is the work of an artist. The museum has 12 of his pieces, out of who knows how many. And the museum has how many pieces by how many thousands of artists? Someone knows, but not I. How many people who turned their hand to something and made a thing that another person considered worth saving? Multiplied by the people who turned their hands to things that no one considered saving, and then those who have never made a thing at all.
Any time I am feeling overly important, or influential, this is exactly the sort of thing I need. I am a blip, a blink, and that is absolutely exactly as it should be.