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It’s Not What the World Needs Right Now

by Andrew Norman Wilson

The Baffler no. 73

April 2024

© Andrew Norman Wilson

It’s 2016. I’m a contemporary artist and have been living off of Medicaid, food stamps, and $20k annually since graduating from art school five years ago. I see the return policies offered by Bezos and the Waltons as loan agreements; I lend them $1,500, and the interest they pay is my use of a new hard drive. While TurboTaxing I hallucinate a DJ software skin and use the expense estimate sliders as fraud modulators. I accept unpaid exhibition offers from salaried curators and gallerists in far-flung cities and tack on lecture stops at $150 a pop, spending as much time as possible as a guest in circulation so as to avoid paying rent anywhere.

This hustle will continue for five more years, but right now I feel like I’m going blue-chip because I’m about to show new videos in four different biennials. One of these new videos—Ode to Seekers 2012—is a loose adaptation of Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn” and depicts 3D animated mosquitos, syringes, and oil pumps sucking and fucking a surface that looks, alternately, like human skin under a microscope, desert salt flats, or potato casserole. Set to a remix I had made of Icona Pop’s “I Love It,” the video is celebratory in tone, freeing me from what I’ve begun to call the “cottage industry of critical art,” [1] an echo chamber/conference room in which overeducated tryhards attempt to outperform each other with the most perfect politics possible. The video doesn’t have a point; it’s more like a knot.

These biennials will ultimately amount to a deficit due to their meager production budgets, but FedEx loses my Robin Williams Window Shadesculpture, and I collect $9,000 in insurance value. New York increasingly feels like a sexy jail or a 9/11-themed Sbarro, so I use the money to buy a 2000 Volvo S70 with 250,000 miles on it for $500 from my dad, who likes to fix up totaled jalopies with his friend. The AC’s cooked, but the summer is my window of opportunity, so I head west in late June to become an “LA Artist,” which to me is an indicator that one has achieved adequate exposure and now needs time and space to focus on commissions to come.

In LA I realize it’s impossible to get a lease when your income is an insurance money bonanza and three €150 checks from European art schools. But I also realize that if I answer, “How are you?” with “Fine . . . I’m looking for a place to stay,” everyone knows someone who needs a plant sitter. Rather than seeing the crust punk through the Lacoste or realizing that my storage unit is my car trunk, people seem to think I’m a rich kid with a Volvo quirk. Looking like gay Abe Lincoln probably helps.

 Artsy portrait aboard the Queen Mary, 2016, by Emily Berl

Andrew Norman Wilson, Ode to Seekers 2012, 2016


In September I go to South Korea to show Ode to Seekers 2012 at the Gwangju Biennial. The beast mode I typically find myself in during the install-to-opening phase intensifies into a full-blown mania. At the press preview, I take too much Adderall and start crying when asked what art is, tears that imply the inability of language to account for the sublime. I watch my piece over and over and decide my next project will be a 3D animated Humpty Dumpty video drawing from Lewis Carroll and James Joyce.

Back in LA I’m confronted with the reality that there will be no champagne receptions, boutique hotel rooms, or complimentary car service for the foreseeable future. Instead, I live in a four bedroom on the far east side with five to nine other artists. A former student visits and introduces me to his wife and baby. I introduce him to a few of my twenty-three-year-old roommates and two guys who slept in the shed last night.

I work on my laptop in my bedroom, so when the online art brokerage platform Artsy asks to photograph me in my studio for a “Top Emerging Artists of 2016” listicle, I lie and say that I have Emirati collector-patrons who let me live and work in their long-term rental on the RMS Queen Mary, the retired British ocean liner-turned-hotel in the port of Long Beach. I rent a suite for the day of the shoot. The photographer is very curious about my live/work situation, which unbeknownst to her, I’ve only had for two hours. I tell her my patron’s daughter Abitha is still asleep in my room, and the whole family will get upset if we disturb her, so we should just take photos of me on the deck.


Andrew Norman Wilson, The Unthinkable Bygone, 2016

Barneys New York portrait at Grandma’s house in Pasadena, CA, 2017, by Christopher Fragapane


It’s 2017. A friend of a friend offers me a room in his grandmother’s mansion for $900 a month, which includes a private balcony over the pool. Grandma lives in a nursing home, so it’s just me and this married couple living with her massive art collection. I feel like I’ve won a WASP LARPer lottery. Someone tips off Barneys New York about the boho-chic lifestyle I’ve assumed at Grandma’s, and they reach out to interview and photograph me for their fall catalog. I ask a model what they would get paid for a shoot and propose $2,000 to Barney’s. They reject my proposal and offer a $1,000 gift card. I discover a website that will turn the encrypted plastic into $940 cash and accept.

I line all four walls of my studio with pictures of Barney the dinosaur impersonators and tell the interviewer that I’m working on a new project as a follow-up to my 2016 video The Unthinkable Bygone, in which a 3D model of Baby Sinclair from Jim Henson’s animatronic puppet TV series Dinosaurs (1991–1994) is subjected to simulation, dissection, reflection, and endoscopy. I say I’m interested in pop cultural representations of the surfaces of dinosaurs, and how we hollow out the earth to find dinosaur bones, and then use those bones, along with our knowledge of current species, to literally flesh out vivid caricatures about our unthinkable earthly predecessors. That bit doesn’t run in the interview, but every photo he takes is full of bootleg Barneys.

To others my new life seems like it’s all fun and games, but in actuality I’m miserable. The maxim “money doesn’t buy happiness” starts to ring in my head. Not because I actually have money, but because I’m living with the material comforts of someone who does, and it doesn’t seem to make me feel any better. I have the ugly feeling that an Artforum feature, institutional acquisitions, and another lap around the art world circuit would cure this sense of lack.

But Trump is in office, and my work is deemed less “urgent”—“irresponsible,” even. A curator who selected me for an Art Basel commission ghosts me. A gallerist who wants to work with me says she can’t add a white man to her roster. An esteemed curator from the Middle East tells me I should probably get a day job for a while because my career outlook in the art world is bleak. It becomes trendy to believe that images within contemporary art contexts can directly achieve the goals of political struggle. The proliferation of bad faith gestures toward political change and the aestheticized consumption of other people’s suffering sickens me, especially when these expressions still play into the financial objectives of oil barons, arms dealers, and other vampires.


Andrew Norman Wilson, Kodak, 2018


Rock face on Isla Espíritu Santo in La Paz, Mexico, 2018


It’s 2018. I’m in Hasselt, Belgium. Everything I eat is off-white, including a Koninginnehapje, a puffed pastry tower filled with boiled chicken balls and cream. I’m there to install a video at an institution called KRIEG? about my father’s thirty-three-year career as a Kodak technician. Last year a respected curator convinced me to make the work, citing “emergent image regimes,” “immaterial labor,” and other terms she probably pulled from PDFs she read in grad school. I took the bait for funding’s sake and spent the next year toiling in Adobe Creative Suite. I should have stood my barren ground and made something from the heart.

I decide I need a vision quest. I google “best beaches in the world” and look for one that I can convince KRIEG? to fly me to on my way back to Los Angeles. I settle on Balandra Beach in La Paz, Mexico, find a subletter for my room at Grandma’s, and book an apartment for a month of fuego pálido.

I take a snorkeling excursion in the Gulf of California to Isla Espíritu Santo, which is inhabited by thousands of sea lions. As I track a manta ray fifty feet below me, something nudges my elbow. I turn to find a sea lion pup swimming alongside me. We make eye contact. He winks, then accelerates past me toward an underwater arch. I follow him through the opening, and when I surface for air, I find myself surrounded by adult sea lions. They gaze at me, motionless. I have a feeling I might die. I’ve found what I was looking for on this island. Something that feels like the opposite of scrutinizing a nondescript object in a white room and then having to read a citation-heavy press release to find out that the object is the product of prison labor, and prison labor is bad.

Fake Friends flier, Andrew Norman Wilson, 2018

Hyatt Regency mezzanine waterfall in Princeton, NJ, 2018


At Princeton that fall I’m the token artist at an art history symposium. Delirious and jet-lagged, I quietly observe the graduate students as they grovel for the academic superstars they’ve flown in to present papers on the “Limits of Analogy in the Wake of the Social Turn in Art” and “Predicated Internationalism.” Instead of the pseudoacademic presentation I prepared, I spew raw accounts of my artistic process into the room. The superstars eat it up like seabirds.

Suddenly I’m the star. I get overconfident and pound shots with a Penn professor, then snort powders with a grad student. I’m quickly too far gone and take an Uber back to my hotel alone. When the receptionist checked me into the Hyatt Regency earlier that day, I was told the general manager used to be a production designer. The brass penguins stoically wading around the sandstone and marble mezzanine waterfall suggest Inception meets Lost in Translationmeets Happy Feet. One of them sits loosely on its mount, so I pick it up and start walking.

A hotel employee approaches me and asks about the penguin. I don’t know what I’m doing. I tell her that, and she calls her supervisor. By the time the supervisor arrives, a thought emerges: I’m dissociating. But something about the way I address that thought out loud gets the supervisor going on about the police. The adrenaline hits, and I start to remember I have some cards to play. I’ve been teaching as an adjunct at UCLA, so I can say I’m a professor. I’m in town for a conference at Princeton. I’m jet-lagged from a site visit to a German Kunstverein. I hand her the brass penguin and plead insanity. She wants me to pack my bags and leave the premises, but I have no money and nowhere else to go. She doesn’t buy that a professor can’t afford a hotel room in New Jersey and tells me I can choose to sleep in jail or a mental hospital. I choose the latter.

In the morning, a psychiatrist tells me I’m not insane but sends me back to LA with a set of goals. I’m going to slow down. Drink less. Start therapy. Get serious about meditation. When I return home, the married couple tells me I have to move out of Grandma’s mansion because they no longer want a roommate.


Andrew Norman Wilson, Papier-mâché Pikachu, 2019

Lawnmower Man screening in the laundry room of Combo hostel, Milan, Italy, 2019


It’s 2019. A clan of Italian businessmen who collect video art offers me $8,000 to make a new video for an important institutional solo show. At $4,000 less than the going rate for my .movs, this is a raw deal, but I don’t have better offers. The Princeton psychiatrist’s instructions prove unfeasible as I burn through housesits. In Koreatown, the papillon I’m taking care of sprains her ankle doing zoomies. In Los Feliz, rats eat through my Volvo’s fuel sensor wiring. For two weeks, I ride an old mountain bike around like a repeat DUI offender to demeaning little gigs like cleaning the floor of an art gallery. An opportunity to catsit my friend Dena’s Scottish Fold in Chinatown opens up, so I escape to New York. Back in sexy jail, I’m so poor that I toy with the idea of posting my banking login info as a publicity stunt: having $0 isn’t going to make life that much harder than having $11. When hunger strikes around noon some days, I order a coffee at a posh restaurant and pay immediately; when another diner leaves leftovers, I bag them and scurry out.

I fly Spirit to Chicago, where all my friends are too busy buying property or accepting professorships to try the ketamine a guy gave me for letting him suck my dick. I catsit for my friend Eli, who is set for life thanks to his role as the brains behind Cards Against Humanity. The cat mauls the papier-mâché Pikachu I made for the video. I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown preparing for the shoot, where I’ll play producer, director, art director, prop master, PA, and driver. But the labor proves fruitful when I realize Z = |Z/Z•Z-1 mod 2|-1 is a work of almost palpable infinity—which is to say, one of the best things I’ve ever made.

When it’s time to exhibit the work, I don’t have any budget left over to pay for housing in Milan. A curator arranges for a residency at an art hostel called Combo in Navigli under the condition that I curate a program of films, which I present in the laundry room. After the show opens, I wander around town listening to Fiona Apple through noise-canceling headphones and look at luxury clothing I can’t afford. Four art magazines publish reviews that read like whispers of a secret society speaking in code.


Andrew Norman Wilson, In the Air Tonight, 2020


A funding application, 2020


It’s 2020. I’ve moved to New York to teach at Cooper Union. I tumble through three short-term sublets and then stick the landing: a $1,400 1.5 bedroom a block away from Cooper Square. Everyone’s stealing from Barneys New York. The department store is going out of business and has replaced their staff with indifferent temp employees. I put on a shimmering $4,000 Prada suit in the dressing room, pull my regular clothes over it, and walk out of the store.

I’m selected as a finalist for a professorship at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart, Germany, though the call for applications listed a preference for female candidates. German teaching jobs are the golden ticket of the academic art world. I would start at $90k per year even though it’s effectively part-time—so part-time I wouldn’t have to live in Stuttgart—and I’d have the same pension plan as Angela Merkel. I arrive on campus in my shimmering suit to compete with the other two finalists. After my talk three faculty pick me apart: I don’t live in Germany, my exhibition schedule is too busy to devote sufficient time to my students, and I’m male. While it’s easy to rebut the first two accusations, there’s not much I can say about the third.

Back in New York, a global pandemic takes hold. My rentier cancels his cross-country bike trip and kicks me out of his apartment. I fly back to LA and finish teaching remotely from a housesit in Echo Park. None of my students seem to be able to make art anymore. Meanwhile, I compulsively spend at least twelve hours a day stitching together clips from commercial cinema of the eighties and nineties to make a narrative video about the urban legend behind Phil Collins’s “In the Air Tonight.” The budget amounts to $400 total to pay the narrator. My mom says it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. The curators I send it to mostly respond with politely veiled indifference; one even says it’s “not what the world needs right now.” I release it on the Phil Collins subreddit.


A locations page from the Art Director deck, 2020


A shot description page from the Balenciaga campaign deck, 2020


I’m awarded an artist residency at La Becque on Lake Geneva. Switzerland grants me a business travelers’ permit based on the (false) premise that I would shoot a film with a Swiss cast and crew. In actuality, I have no money, and no idea what I’ll make. The week before leaving I start a sequel to Z = |Z/Z•Z-1 mod 2|-1 called Art Director and spend every hour of daylight documenting how Hollywood fantasies are made material throughout LA—as if the residents desire to live amid set constructions and movie characters. I shoot Bavarian shopping plazas, an animatronic dinosaur car wash, and a “Native American”-themed Taiwanese restaurant.

While at La Becque, I secure €20,000 from an obscure Czech arts organization for Art Director. A curator at the Centre Pompidou informs me that the project will be proposed as a grant-funded exhibition at an upcoming meeting. I start assembling a team. We’ll shoot from a Jeep Wrangler with a camera mounted in the back like a gatling gun. Suddenly the visual director of Balenciaga reaches out and asks if I want to direct their next series of campaign videos. The team essentially wants to pay me $100k to remake Z = |Z/Z•Z-1 mod 2|-1 with Balenciaga products.

A week before we’re about to shoot, Europe goes into its second lockdown, and the campaign is postponed until March. I decide I’ll shoot Art Directorwhen I return to LA in January, then go back to Europe in March for Balenciaga. Days later, I get an email informing me that the Czech program has been Covid-canceled. Then I hear back from the curator at the Pompidou. Apparently two (American) committee members vetoed the project because it didn’t address LA’s homeless population. I’ll be homeless in LA if I return, so I extend my stay in Switzerland.


Swimming in Lake Geneva, Switzerland, 2020


I had gotten into high-intensity interval training early on in the pandemic because it seemed like I could get canceled for jogging outside. On a cold November day, while writhing around on the floor for a move called “cross-lateral bicycle kicks,” I feel a sharp pain in my abdomen and an immediate wave of crippling nausea. I crawl into bed and remain there for the next two days. When I emerge, the nausea persists, and I can no longer digest food properly.

For as long as I can remember, one of my floating ribs has protruded out of my abdomen like a baby finger. Though it points in the opposite direction of my innards, it’s rather mobile, and I suspect it could have pinched my intestines. A Swiss doctor says he’ll have to run a bunch of tests and I should wait to begin my “medical adventure” once I’m back home.

I try to frame the rest of my time in Switzerland as convalescence. Swimming in the thirty-five-degree water offers me an hour of relief, but the holidays are approaching, and it’s offensive to refuse all the fondue and white wine. I suffer through protracted dinners as residents suggest diseases I’ve never thought about: Crohn’s, peptic ulcers, diverticulitis, celiac disease. While googling them one evening, a Sundance programmer calls me. He says they want to show In the Air Tonight at next year’s festival. “Get your pitch decks ready,” he says. When I send the deck for Art Director, the team tells me the project is “beyond arthouse” and that I should come up with an idea for a narrative short.


My avatar at the Sundance Film Festival Film Party, 2021


My medieval-themed Airbnb/Peerspace in Burbank, CA, 2021


It’s 2021. I rent a medieval-themed Airbnb/Peerspace in Burbank at a fraction of its usual cost because LA is currently the global epicenter of Covid. I get my food holes inspected at a shadowy Medicaid-accepted facility called the Airport Endoscopy Center. The Capitol is stormed, so I watch a lot of cable television as I wait for Balenciaga, Sundance, and MyChart results. I see Ariel Pink strung out at Tierra Mia in Highland Park and then on TV getting interviewed by Tucker Carlson.

A January chill besets LA, so I start wearing the winter attire included in the Sundance swag bag alongside an Oculus Rift. The image of me sporting an IMDb beanie and a Canada Goose jacket in a medieval-themed sharing economy rental is lost at the virtual industry events, where my body is rendered as a Sundance-branded 3D figure with a 2D image of my face in place of a head. Everyone else’s avatars meet up with friends from film school, previous shoots, and past networking events. I dawdle in the floating space lounge by myself, thinking, They don’t know I was just diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome.

Other festivals reach out about my “Sundance film,” as do companies like Searchlight and A24. One of the Nomadland producers calls me; instead of saying hello, he yells, “WHO is this Andrew Norman Wilson everyone’s talking about?” My pitches of my short film idea Impersonator—about a Hollywood Boulevard character impersonator who drifts deeper into the fantasy of their character—are deemed feral.

I wander around on foot to prepare the short because driving my Volvo makes me nauseous. I meet a Stormtrooper impersonator on the boulevard named Dante Valentine who plays in a hair metal band and founded what he describes as a “life coaching program” for “Asian businessmen” who want to become pickup artists. While walking around the LA River, I meet a man named Tony who makes a living fixing bikes and trading them to other people who live on the streets. In a past life he worked in McMansion construction, was wrongfully accused of a crime, spent years in prison, and upon release, fell into debt. I find an affinity with both of them; Dante because of his parasitic relationship to financial elites, Tony because I may be trading him Volvo parts for a bike soon.


Hollywood mounting Blaze in Laurel Canyon, CA, 2021


Hollywood dead in his grave in Laurel Canyon, CA, 2021


I’m forced to make way for another tenant at the medieval-themed Airbnb and end up tortoise/turtle/iguana/dove/koi-sitting in Laurel Canyon for a German commercial director. Every morning, I wake up and hurl $20 worth of vegetables around the property for the pets before spending eighteen hours preparing my short film. I fly my parents out to help me because it’s cheaper than hiring PAs. I can’t think straight due to the chronic nausea, and it seems like I’m spending $50 per second on set. At the end of the shoot, I’m $40k in debt and severely constipated.

I have a bunch of cops’ phone numbers, both to research their procedures and because I had to hire real cops to make sure the fake cops in the movie weren’t frisking actual citizens or pulling them over in the LAPD truck we rented. I have never engaged with the world so deeply as an artist.


Andrew Norman Wilson, Impersonator, 2021. Production still by Kyle Devan.


Back in the canyon, one of the tortoises I’m watching—Hollywood—is unconscious. I flip him over and find that he’s bleeding from his penis. Animal control asks if Hollywood lives with a female tortoise. I tell them her name is Blaze. “Is she bigger than him?” they ask. “Yes,” I say. “Are they sexually active?” Hollywood spends every waking moment trying to fuck the living daylights out of her. There’s the explanation: Blaze broke Hollywood’s dick off, and now he’s dead.

I call the German commercial director. He’s devastated and needs time to think. Awaiting further instruction, I put Hollywood’s corpse in a black trash bag and leave him in the shade. Three days later the German returns. We bury Hollywood in a massive hole in the ground, and I move out.

My George H.W. Bush baseball card, 2021

Ziggles the bunny in Durham, NC, 2021


Too sick to hustle for housesits like I used to, I decide to move into my parent’s two-bedroom ranch house in North Carolina, where I file for disability and set up a whole new stable of doctors to administer obscure tests. I consume radioactive eggs from a paper cup for a gastric emptying study so they can shoot gamma rays at my intestines to track the movement of the egg down my chute. I buy a George H. W. Bush baseball card that depicts him at age ninety-one throwing out the first pitch at an Astros game. I tell my mom and dad that he’s my spirit animal. My mom says her friend’s daughter said white people can’t have spirit animals. My dad, who voted for Bush twice, asks where my wife is.

The only being I’m really vibing with in the house is my mom’s rabbit, Ziggles. He approaches me with a gentle curiosity whenever I enter the sunroom. He lets me style him with tiny sunglasses and sit him upright like a little man to watch the subtitled films my parents complain about. Nine months pass down there. I start writing a feature-length script based on Impersonator. Logline: a fugitive hacker hiding as a Hollywood Boulevard impersonator is recruited by a rogue FBI agent for a black-ops mission to steal millions from a debauched doomsday prepper’s desert compound.


Text from my mother, 2022


One of my debt accounts, 2022


It’s 2022. My therapist suggests I take a trip to see friends because I keep calling myself an incel. I have a feeling she’s sick of watching a grown man cry about how hard it is to poop and wants new material. I accept a designer cat-sitting gig in Brooklyn and find that the affection of old friends distracts me from my condition. But city life becomes untenable as winter turns to spring. A close friend in the throes of baby panic seduces me into a relationship and then berates me for two months because of the glaring reality that I’m unfit to be a dad. I take three editing gigs with fixed fees that factor out to less than $10 per hour in the end. I can’t take the train or look at my phone while walking without becoming nauseous for twenty-four hours, can’t drink alcohol or stay up past nine, and can’t follow through on half of the plans I make. Meeting the film producers, creative directors, and agents I need to know feels impossible. I start to compose a suicide note and procure twenty Xanax from a friend.

Then, an electric signal jolts me out of the murk. I receive an invitation to a director’s lab called Oxbelly run by a powerful film producer and held at a Greek resort. I fly out with my Impersonator script for a week of meetings, workshops, and production exercises. All the other fellows have film school pasts and industry experience, rendering me a bit of an enigma. A famous actor who I call the Green Goblin seems to like this. He accidentally pulls up a picture of his wife’s breasts when he’s trying to show me a picture of his goat. I return home motivated to start a new script based on a love triangle set in Switzerland.


My floating rib (red) and the position it should be in (blue), 2022

My rib, 2022


Googling medical conditions, I find something I’ve never heard of before: Slipping rib syndrome. There’s a Facebook advocacy group with six thousand members, and everyone seems to be talking about three surgeons. Medicaid will cover the one in Connecticut. Three months later, I go in for surgery to sew the “hypermobile floating rib” to my ribcage to keep it from poking my intestines. When I wake up from the anesthesia, the surgeon says the rib popped out and pointed forward when he opened me up, so he decided instead to saw off three inches. I request the bone. The surgeon refuses. “It’s a biohazard,” he says. I ask every nurse and PA I see, and they say taking body parts home is illegal.

Two days later, I return to the hospital to sort out an issue with my OxyContin prescription. The surgeon says he’ll come meet me. When he arrives at my table in the cafeteria, he puts a urine sample container in front of me. Inside it is my rib, with meat still attached to the bone, sitting in hydrogen peroxide. He tells me to leave it in there for a week until the meat dissolves.

My digestive issues improve, and I have a new lease on life. No one wants to listen to an artist describe their work, but everyone wants to be told my rib story. I tell them God will use the bone to create a third gender. Even if it doesn’t work out between this new being and me, I’m able to autofellate. I now have half an hourglass figure and, naturally, am starting an OnlyFans. I will work my angles, pay off my medical debt, and pivot to directing Hollywood blockbusters.


Oneohtrix Point Never, Nightmare Paint, 2023. Production still by Jeannie Sui Wonders.


It’s 2023. Crapping is easy now; sometimes too easy. While the same can’t be said for making money, I haven’t been this liquid for quite some time. I shoot a skincare advertisement featuring Hailey Bieber draped across a giant pink bean; a music video for U2 at an abandoned housing development of over seven hundred cheap French chateau replicas in rural Turkey; and two music videos for Oneohtrix Point Never that feel more like my work than promotional content.

Meanwhile, I feel like a retired contemporary artist. My .mov files are entombed in the collections of institutions such as MoMA, the Getty, and the Pompidou, but I haven’t had a studio visit in years. I’ve given up on trying to get projects such as Art Director and Humpty Dumpty funded or looking for teaching jobs. I avoid openings and even gallery exhibitions altogether.

I used to think being an artist would allow me to step beyond reason toward what ought to be, to disturb the seemingly natural order of things and unwind our counterfeit intuitions. But I’m fairly certain that the art world—caught as it is between the demands of yacht owners and delusional incompetents with advanced deskilling degrees—won’t let me do so. Instead, I’ll defect and let others get bullied into making evangelical pablum, financial instruments, interior decor, identity flags, conceptual contracts, tech demos, checked boxes, “research,” encrypted Marxism, postcolonial apologia, excuses, complaints . . .


It’s 2024. I’m getting close to shooting that romantic thriller in Switzerland. Logline: in the Swiss town of Interlaken, a love triangle forms between an avalanche survivor, a newly broke oil industrialist’s son, and a mysterious influencer who might be a spy. The fate of humanity hangs in the balance.

I write this series of vignettes as part of my attempt to achieve escape velocity from the predicament described herein. The compensation exceeds any fee I’ve received for an exhibition. Its audience will be larger, and it will always be available to them. This magazine famously ran a piece decrying the nonfiction-to-film pipeline, [2] but I wouldn’t mind it if this was optioned, so any curious scouts should reach out:


[1] Andrew Norman Wilson, “The Artist Leaving the Googleplex,” e-flux, June 2016

[2] James Pogue, “They Made a Movie Out of It,” The Baffler no. 49, January 2020

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Andrew Norman Wilson is an artist and director based between Europe and America. Festival screenings include Sundance, the New York Film Festival, and Rotterdam. His work is in collections such as the Museum of Modern Art New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and The Centre Pompidou, and his work has been featured in Artforum, ArtReview, BOMB, Frieze, The New Yorker, and Wired, and he has published writing in Artforum, e-flux, and the Paris Review. To view images of Wilson's show at the Kunstverein Braunschweig, visit this link. His first feature film, Interlaken, is currently in preproduction.

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