Joseph Riippi

Make Art


Find a simple church, one to match a child’s drawing of the word. Wait for a family or parent with child to arrive. Smile like a holy person. Wear holy robes. Bend and ask the child, Will you please draw for me this church? Pass them pencil and book as you say it. Say, Thank you. Say, Good, and watch them draw their geometry. Say, Now imagine the greatest church you could ever dream of. Watch them pause and look to their parent or family. Say, Do not be afraid, my child, and watch the child draw something more. Say, Have a lovely day, you have a lovely church. Take back your book and close it. Leave for your own town, your own robe. Erase all the child drew but the greatness. This is what you could never do on your own.


What a taxidermist sprays on taxidermied trout to achieve in its scales a lifelike glisten—purchase many spray cans or canisters of this liquid, full. Arrange these canisters and cans such that they take the shape of the river Nile across a gallery floor. Sell t-shirts and donate moderate portions of the profits to a government. Drink red wine at the opening and pace the continental floor. Say, Stuff it, as a joke to a sculptor who insults you. Say, This is my finest work, to someone beautiful and naïve. Sweat out your nerves and wipe the wet from your glistening forehead.


Sleep for several days and do very little that is productive. Claim this apathy and lack of productivity as art performance. Feel guilty. Claim this guilt as part of the performance. Feel derivative of artists you do not love for having performed such absurd post-modern meta-performance. Claim this meta as irony, also part of performance. Proclaim anti-performance. Consider claiming anti-performance as new form. Sleep and do nothing and wake to consider your form exhausted. Decide to research something new. Decide and claim meta-as-irony-in-performance as post-post-modern performance. Research justification. Research forgiveness. Claim the act of justification as new performance. Art-making as art, art-justification as art, research as art performance. Decide to sleep again. Repeat from start. Anticipate a longer performance, one of such length as to take an entire lifetime. Sleep and justify, research and rejustify, sleep and wake and feel guilt and absurdity and shame. Seek an end to the performance. Research an end to shame and justification and indecision and repetition and oblivion. Continue until satisfied and/or dead.

Joseph Riippi is the author of The Orange Suitcase (2011) and Do Something! Do Something! Do Something! (2009), both from Ampersand Books. Cloth Houses, a novella, is forthcoming from Housefire Books later this year. Visit him a

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