I had to provide the artist, of course, in order to secure the funding. Using a human test subject would introduce a couple of serious problems. First, I would have to interact with an artist. Second, I would be forced to interact with an artist, possibly several. The next logical solution was cabashed by the humane society—outsourcing to a non-human. I have a friend, a specialist in primate development and cognitive science, who is the head of a chimpanzee enculturation project. His facility is a multi-billion dollar complex designed specifically to test the ability of the chimp to acclimate himself to a strictly human environment. His goal—Determine how closely the chimp’s behavior will mimic the behavior of human children raised in the same conditions.2 My goal—get one of his chimps and allow it develop its artistic sense in an environment designed to prepare him for a seamless entry into the funded artistic elite.

He (or she) was to be provided with subscriptions to the New Yorker, Harpers, Atlantic Monthly, Scheiser Toten, and various chap-press offerings in order to teach him the language of the artist. Most importantly, via the upcoming events calendars, the chimp would learn which invitations to accept and which to pointedly refuse. Nothing would endanger the gravitas of my simian protégé (or protégée) more quickly than attending a B-list opening 3. Second, the chimp would be taught how to throw tantrums, speak incoherently, and remain perfectly and mechanically unpredictable. If someone managed to garner the chimp’s interest long enough to ask a question, the answer must be incomprehensible, but not completely so. The questioner must be made to believe that something…something, is lurking in the steamy bowels of the chimp’s response, if only he can decipher it. To this end, the chimp would be taught a safe-word: exactly.

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2A similar study was carried out in 1974 by a team at Brown. The key difference was their choice of environment. Rather than acclimate chimpanzee juveniles to human stimuli, they placed a series of infants into the care of a troupe of Mandrills. The team hoped the human children would develop behaviors identical to those of the Mandrill young. However, approximately ten minutes into the experiment, all the infants had been stomped, rolled, shredded, cleansed, folded, and otherwise manipulated by the males in the troupe. The official results were, according to the team, “inconclusive.”

3I now realize that this would be very easy to spin to the project’s advantage. If my chimp were seen at a substandard event, we would leak the information to the necessary grape-viners that his attendance was a commentary on a more exclusive opening. Eventually, his presence at these events would constitute a performance piece. [ed. Note] The So-Ho art mag “Karen’s Loafer” reviewed a similar piece since the close of the author’s NEA funding. A writer for the magazine mistook a tourist for famed (but as yet unphotographed) performance specialist Mr. Crack. The reviewer followed the oblivious tourist from gallery to gallery, chronicling his reactions to everything from the pieces to the venue to the wine lists. This resulted in a glowing review by “Karen’s Loafer” of Mr. Crack’s apparent subterfuge piece “Strolling about inconspicuously.”