Christo’s Gift

by , under Fiction Contests, Friday Fictioneers

For years, Ray badgered Christo and Jeanne-Claude to barter a piece with him. He sent  dozens of works of mail art, a large collage. There was never a response.

One day on his porch he found a brown paper parcel bound with white twine. The US Postal Service mailing label was lettered in neat block print. It was from the  Christos.

Excited, he tore the package open. The box was empty save a letter and a polaroid of the paper-wrapped parcel.

Dear Ray,
This package was the piece we are giving you, and now you have destroyed it.


Friday Fictioneers

This is a story told by New York artist Ray Johnson (1927-1995). He was a seminal Pop Art figure in the 1950s, an early conceptualist, and a pioneer of mail art.

  1. rochellewisoff

    Dear Josh

    That last line made me snort. Glad I didn’t have anything in my mouth. Bad enough I eat over my keyboard and have issues because of it. Spewing hot liquid wouldn’t be good. At any rate, as an artist, this story made me laugh out loud. Clever, I raise my #1 watercolor sable in your honor.



    PS Hope you’re keeping warm.

  2. pennygadd51

    I like this story. Christo found a very sharp way of showing Ray that he (Ray) was not an artist at heart – indeed, that he destroyed art. I have a problem though. How did Christo get the Polaroid into the parcel after photographing the parcel? There are ways of achieving the effect, but all of them are, to a greater or lesser extent, cheats. Or is that a further message of the story?

    • J Hardy Carroll

      Hard to say. Christo is an artist who repudiates all attempts to attach deeper meaning to his art, making pieces to incite enjoyment in the user. Ray Johnson was in fact an extraordinary artist whose entire life was a performance, and I think Christo and Jean-Claude knew that about him. Destruction of the piece has been a consistent component of Christo’s work, so it was a compliment to include Ray in the piece. I recommend the film how to draw a bunny about the life of Ray Johnson. Thanks for reading :-)

  3. Christine Goodnough

    Vaguely reminiscent of the Pandora’s box tale. I guess if he’d never opened the box he’d never have known what his gift was.
    Oh well. You’ve written the scene well anyway, and that’s what counts here at FFF.

  4. granonine

    I had to read through the comments to figure this out. I loved the writing, but I’m not an artist and I don’t know much about modern art. Now that I understand, I’m impressed indeed :)


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