People love to lampoon a credulous art world, but the reaction to the fake invisible work of ‘Lana Newstrom’ shows just how repelled we are by its marketplace
A lot of people have fallen for a fake news report about ‘invisible art’. Collectors, claimed Canada’s CBC, are paying through the nose for the art of 27-year-old Lana Newstrom even though you cannot see any of it.
The invisible art of Lana Newstrom is in fact a hoax, perpetrated by professional radio parodists Pat Kelly and Peter Oldring. But I can see why so many people fell for it – especially having just covered the Turner prize.
While all of the work in this year’s Turner is just about visible, this prize has often featured the not-quite-there. Martin Creed and Susan Philipsz both won it for empty rooms – Creed’s with the lights going on and off, Philipsz’s with a folk song sound installation. And that’s just the tip of an invisible iceberg.
So, given that if anything Lana Newstrom’s art is a bit staid and behind the times, it is not so strange that people were fooled by the hoax. On the other hand, what they took from it is revealing. It shows how much we hate the rich.
A website called Wealthy Debates relished the exposure, not so much of art, as of art collectors. Believing Lana Newstrom to be real, it sneered at her stupid rich collectors. “The most amusing aspect of the story,” it enthused, “is the image of snobby art collectors walking through an empty studio studiously staring at blank walls … Some of the art afficianados [sic] actually stop and soak in the lack of art that is not hanging on the blank wall…”