An article from the New York Times provocatively titled Can a Picasso Cure You?, went viral as soon as it was published. References to it were appearing repeatedly on Facebook and Twitter all day.
First of all, the title is just too delicious to not stop and take a read. Charles McGrath is reporting on the latest undertaking of Alexander Melamid, certainly an artist and personality with an extremely checkered past. McGrath’s tone is tongue in cheek and his approach is more novelty than newsworthy. Melamid has opened up an “art clinic” where art is used to heal whatever ails you. Sometimes it is just viewing a Monet, or buying an art candle. The process isn’t described in detail.
Here’s a taste of McGrath’s point of view:
How the art-healing process works is not entirely clear, but it may involve invisible particles called creatons. “The creatons are everywhere, and they go into the human body,” said Mr. Melamid, who is small and animated and has a nimbus of white mad-scientist hair. “If the creatons are used properly and nicely, they can enhance your body functions. They will help you to live happier and will also get rid of impurities. They enter through your kundalini and also into your eyes.”
Reading about creatons in the New York Times is a novelty of its own and yes, just a bit preposterous. But there is some poetry in this “mad-scientist” scheme that brings a sense of delight to me. Creatons! Who knew? And even without any required scientific backup, Melamid goes on to offer up some recommendations that are actually right in line with my own beliefs and practices. For example, there is no question that art heals. How that works is a mystery to me, but it shifts my moods and state of mind. Like magic.
And then there is the issue of limiting your exposure, particularly when you visit a museum or Chelsea:
He [Melamid] went on to explain that a lot of visual information was bad for the patient. “So when you go to a museum,” he continued, “you have to be very discreet. You don’t want overexposure — that’s as dangerous as to take too many medicines. Art needs to be taken in moderation and according to a specialist who can prescribe the right dosage.”
I’ve been doing selective viewing at museums for years now. I highly recommend this approach.
And who knows where this will go? Here’s Melamid’s thoughts on his own role:
“The question is whether I will step over and become real,” Mr. Melamid said. “Whether I will stop being an artist or a conceptualist and become a real healer. That’s what I want to do. I know I’ll never do it, but that’s what I want to do.”
Speaking of his clinic, he said: “Besides being a great idea, it’s something everyone can relate to. It takes art a little bit off the pedestal. You can art-charge your water or your vodka, you can buy an art candle. And it’s funny. I discovered five years ago that the truth is funny. Not everything that’s funny is true, for sure. But whatever is not funny is not true. That’s why truth has never been revealed, because scientists don’t understand that the end product needs to be funny.”