At Chelsea’s Specific Object, the Future Looks Bleak

The artwork. (Courtesy Specific Object)

Specific Object, David Platzker’s Chelsea art space, is living up to its name with a new show opening Feb. 9 called “A Large Anonymous Artwork.” The exhibition consists of a single work, a large piece of spray-painted plywood that Mr. Platzker found outside his apartment one morning last May.

Painted on the wood is the silhouette of the Cat in the Hat, wearing a gas mask. Next to that visage are the words, “I’ve Seen the Future & It Doesn’t Look Good” (and scribbled faintly in pencil behind the spray paint are the words “CROCS” and “TRASH”). After seeing it, Mr. Platzker picked the work up and stored it in his basement right away.

When we called and asked him if he’d ever shown a random work found on the street by an unknown artist before, he let out a loud laugh. “I deal primarily in ephemeral material, but generally I know what I’m doing.”

The piece has a mostly symbolic price tag of $10,000, a riff on Mitt Romney’s $10,000 bet with Rick Perry over a healthcare dispute during the Iowa debate.

“What I tend to do is mostly for my entertainment in the gallery,” Mr. Platzker, whose real trade is selling rare art books, said. “I do it because I find it fascinating. If someone buys it, great. But it’s not where my living is coming from, thank God.”

He added that if someone wanted to buy the piece for less than $10,000, he’d probably negotiate.

In a press release, Mr. Platzker contemplated the meaning behind the work:

“The artwork either pokes a stick at Banksy’s infamous rats that inhabit SoHo from time to time; comments on cheap consumer commodities sold by Crocs (whose Chairman, Richard Sharp with his wife Sherry, has been generous donors to Eric Cantor, Ken Cuccinelli, Jim DeMint, George W. Bush, and the Republican Party), or maybe it was just painted in the spirit of good fun.”

The show is tongue-in-cheek, but its bleakness also hits very close to home. On the phone, Mr. Platzker mentioned some of the amazing people that have passed away already in 2012 like artist Mike Kelley and bookseller John McWhinnie. Those losses, Mr. Platzker said, give his large anonymous artwork “some odd resonance.”

At Chelsea’s Specific Object, the Future Looks Bleak