By Cedar Lewisohn
It’s a Saturday night and I’ve been invited to a swanky dinner to celebrate the opening of a big West End Gallery. I was at the show earlier and now a select few of us are in a new London restaurant, Morser 72, which has been receiving rave reviews in all the right places. The head chef and restaurant owner is an avid contemporary art collector (he’s particularly fond of the YFA’s*, but that’s another story). In the taxi on the way to the restaurant I was sat next to a recent graduate from the Courtauld who is now working for one of the major auction houses. He told me that though he’s still a Marxist, he enjoys the honesty of free market. The next sale he’s working on will take place in India and he’s looking forward to the trip over there, where he’ll also be able to catch up with the children working at his father’s clothes factory. “It’s great to see all the kids being so productive,” he tells me. When we arrive at the restaurant, we’re all given small test tubes which are bubbling and smoking away. I try the drink and to my surprise it tastes rather good. A waiter dressed in an Adidas tracksuit informs me its snail enthused dry ice champagne, dusted with edible gold leaf. There are around thirty guests at the dinner and we all take our seats. I’m sat next to a young “digital media performance” artist from Sweden on my right, a museum director from New York on my left , and directly opposite sit a collector and his wife. I later find out he’s a Harley Street doctor specialising in “birth- less birthing”. Which basically involves hiring women in developing countries to be surrogate wombs for his clients. The first course arrives. It’s one rock oyster served on a tiny plastic plate, which is a reproduction of a London transport Oyster card. The Swedish digital media artist next to me immediately takes out a Nokia 7650** phone and starts clicking away. “London is so super funky and spunky,” she says, “And there are so many authentic poor people, such groovy styles…” The collector opposite me chips in that if the Swede knows anyone looking for some extra work, he may be able to help. The collector’s wife invites us all to another opening next week, for the contemporary programme of a museum she sponsors. The main course arrives. I look down and I’m not entirely sure what to do. On the plate there is one lonely chip, a miniature toothpaste tube, what looks like a duck egg and a selection of yellow leaves. All of this sits on a slate plate raised from the table by golf balls. I crack open the egg and find it filled with meat, the origin of which I’m not en rely sure, and give the toothpaste tube a squeeze, out of which comes a bright green mint flavoured mashed potato. I try the meat and green paste together and find the experience not entirely disagreeable. I ask the museum director next to me what he makes of the food, and he tells me he never eats the food at gallery dinners. “Hopefully the coffee will be drinkable, but I doubt it” he says. Thinking it might be best to change the subject, I ask what he makes of the restaurant’s interior design. He shrugs and says he heard the owner paid the artist £500K to do the work. I look around at the restaurant walls which are covered from floor to ceiling in TOX13 tags and wonder if the “artist” is out of jail yet. Dessert comes in the form of a box of matches and a small water pistol. I look around the restaurant and see the final course is going down a storm. All around the room, the best and brightest of London’s art-world are ring the guns into each other’s mouths and breathing flames of chocolate orange fire into the air. It’s quite a spectacle. Finally the coffee arrives, and the museum director perks up. Unfortunately for him it is, again, rather unconventional. The coffee mugs are shaped like penises, with a small opening at the top to sip the hot liquid from. Instead of a biscuit on the saucer, there is what looks like a condom wrapper. I open mine to find an edible rubber johnny made of some type of jelly. After rolling it over the penis-shaped mug, I find it tastes of cream and complements the coffee rather well.
*Young Female Artists
*The first Nokia phone to have a built in camera