Photographer and Skateboard legend Scott Bourne sent me a text he’d written last year after visiting the Jeff Koons exhibition at Versaille. More recently, he wrote me back about a new deck he’s bringing out with ANTIZ.
The graphic is created by Todd Bratrud. Basically it’s KONG with a Clown Nose on a-top of the chapel at Versaille with balloon airplanes surrounding him. Here is the board and the set of ideas that set its creation in motion.
“In a cool November evening my girlfriend and I boarded a train and began the short journey from our Paris flat to the Chateau Versailles. She had finally succeeded in getting me to go see the much talked about Jeff Koons exhibition. Although I have never been a fan of his “work” I was however very interested to see the castle at night and to walk through it with Caroline. Little did I know at the time that my opinion of Koons as an artist would soon take on an envy as large as his pieces.
Upon arriving in Versailles, there is a short walk from the station to the castle. This journey in itself is a fabulous walk for any American whether he be a tourist or veteran traveler. The old French town is a walking talking piece of history that one needs no knowledge of to enjoy. Large trees lining the boulevards and quaint country taverns filled with locals and tourist alike. With the cool winter air rushing into ones lungs and the warm hand of a woman one loves….the experience becomes quite dreamlike.
Coming down the well marked boulevard that leads to the castle one sees the sky illuminated by the lights of the chateau. A glow looming over the grounds that gives off a radiance of biblical proportions. With cobbled stone beneath ones steps it is not hard to feel as if one has just reached the end of a long pilgrimage. Golden fences burst from the ancient street, their tops ornamented with symbols of royalty. The courtyard is sculpted on all sides by enormous rock architecture, large columns reaching up beneath them. To the right we see the castles cathedral encrusted in religious figures. Stained glass, a pointed roof, carved pillars and medieval gargoyles, which are all typical of the early 1700’s. Just to the left of it, in the main courtyard, we see where the French have constructed a modern entrance for the Koons exhibit, of which looks much like Christo and Jeane-Claude’s “Gates Project”, Caroline and I are some what amused to see this shape and form for no other reason that it appears completely out of context given the circumstance. This will be the thesis of our evening at hand.
In the interior courtyard where we enter the exhibition, we see a large flower balloon that has been made famous long before our eyes are made to see it. As I look at it I cannot help but scan the area for the giant clown that has tied it. I imagine him stepping over the palace walls, snatching up Caroline and crawling to the top of the cathedral in a modern performance piece entitle Koons Kong. Once we are safe inside the palace it is certain that a giant clown has been on the premises for someone has converted the castle itself into a circus tent, and sculpted several fun house mirrors to go in it. Staring into a large chrome puppy dog one sees himself in the distorted eye of art. The world around comes crashing into the image in an unsettling contrast of new and old. Is this the mirror that America is holding up to the world?
I believe that both Caroline as well as myself was immediately disappointed in the artistic value of what we saw. Neither one of us expected anything too wonderful from Koons but to see his prefabricated American art, constructed of plastic and metal forms, stolen from everyday objects, cast, enlarged and then dropped down in the center of this incredible castle encrusted with some of the most beautiful chambers in the world, was plain and simply criminal! As I thought these thoughts, in the same halls, once walked by Marie Antoinette, I also thought: what an accomplishment for the artist. I imagined the laughter he must of let out when he was finally done with the installation, left the premises, and locked safe, and sound behind the key of his hotel suite. It is certain to have been most fantastic laugh of modern artistry!
A crustacean has fallen from the high wire and hung himself on a safety cable!!! A large plastic lobster hangs from the ceiling on a red plastic chain. It is nothing more than a $10 rubber raft, a blow up toy with no hole of joy, but Koons has definitely used it to fuck the world. Just behind the plastic lobster is one of the most fabulous paintings anyone has ever admired. Gold framed, hand made, beautiful works of art rise to the ceiling on all sides. The castle itself is a living piece of art. Its marble walls and hard wood floors, gold encrusted angels hang from the ceiling, crystal chandeliers in every room. I imagine what the palace looked like long before plastic, when it was lit by candlestick and the halls walked by a princess. A bedpan shat upon by Marie Antoinette and then tossed out with the garbage….which is exactly what I think should be done with the work of Jeff Koons! And I laugh to think what the critics have written about his brilliance and if Versailles has a hole big enough to burry his shit? Maybe he could use some of that porcelain to construct a giant toilet. In the garden we find a large toy horse head, trimmed from a bush, I imagine someone has buried the rest, or simply that the Kong Clown has beheaded it.
And yet I admire the man that has mastered a CON of this size and given my girl and I a wonderful night at Versailles. Then when I imagine all those that have seen this with seriousness, I am over come with sadness. For they do not know…they’ve been taken by a CONartist! Yet I shall never walk these halls again without giving homage to quite possibly the greatest CON of our century. From “let them eat cake” to giant balloons to go with it, the Flim-Flam Man to Catch Me If You Can, it appears as if Koons remains uncaught!”