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I Can’t Shut Up About This Pickle

Photo-Illustration: The Cut; Photo: Getty Images

Art is everywhere. It’s in the way Chris Pine wears a caftan, the flick of Katy Perry’s wrist as she tosses slices of pizza into a Las Vegas nightclub. Art is movement and expression, creativity and inspiration. It is poetry, music, motion pictures, and, yes, even a pickle. Ladies and gentlemen, her:

This is Pickle, an installation recently featured in Auckland, New Zealand’s Michael Lett gallery. Artist Matthew Griffin created the piece by peeling a single pickle off a McDonald’s cheeseburger and throwing it at the gallery ceiling. Griffin’s self-described “sculpture” was on exhibit throughout July, meaning the pickle remained stuck to the ceiling, using only ketchup remnants and nondescript burger juices as adhesive, for an entire month. Amazing. I love the art pickle.

As is customary of any piece of gallery artwork, Pickle’s plaque listed the materials used to create the piece. While only the pickle is on display, the plaque included all of the components of a McDonald’s cheeseburger (bun, beef patty, cheese, ketchup, etc.) as well as the ingredients used to make each component (wheat flour, canola oil, firming agent, emulsifiers, the ominous “cheese flavor”). This should be customary for all works of art. The end credits of every movie should list all the food provided by craft services. Every song should note the number of cigarettes smoked while writing each track. What goes into making a piece of art, even if it is not visible in the final product, is also part of the art. Schrödinger’s burger.

Now, before I talk about how much Pickle was being sold for — yes, obviously it was available for purchase — you have to promise me you’ll be cool. I will hear no grumbles or guffaws about the monetary value of the art pickle. Do we have an agreement? Okay, Pickle had a price tag of $10,000 NZD ($6,275 USD). Hey, you promised me you’d be cool! Also, whoever purchased the installation would have to pay an additional $4.44 NZD for a McDonald’s cheeseburger because, per The Guardian, “the institution, or collector who owns it, will be given instructions on how to recreate the art in their own space.” So you’d essentially be paying $10,004.44 NZD to remove a pickle from a McDonald’s burger and huck it at the ceiling of your choosing. Dinner and a show! It’s unclear whether anyone actually bought the piece of art.

Pickle has been described by critics as a “provocative gesture,” and I agree, as pickles are inherently provocative. It is reminiscent of other food-related art, like the now-infamous banana taped to a wall or the pornographic film Cake Farts. (Here is a musical dissertation on Cake Farts, if you are not familiar.) What I love most about the art pickle is that it opens the door for other mundanities to be viewed as art. The pile of dust and dog fur beneath my TV stand is not filth; it is a commentary on the cultural understanding of cleanliness. Letting my car run on empty for too long is not irresponsible; it is performance art, and pumping gas is camp. Kiwis call McDonald’s “Macca,” which is — say it with me — art. You have read over 500 words on a pickle stuck on a ceiling, making you a supporter of the arts.

As art begets art, I have written a poem in honor of the art pickle. It is best enjoyed while chucking some gherkins at the wall. Bon appétit.

This Is Just to Say
I have eaten
the art pickle
that was on
the art-gallery ceiling

And which
you probably
$10,000 New Zealand dollars on

Forgive me
It was delicious
Haha, jk
It was a month-old pickle.
It tasted so, so bad.

I Can’t Shut Up About This Pickle