Mossberg 500 shotgun, bong, tape
41 x 7 in.
I really couldn’t think of anything to do with the gun. Months went by and I started to experience a light, effervescent panic over the deadline. I made regular work of sketching. Nothing. At one point, I did acid with a friend, and while tripping came up with a piece! Brilliant and devastating, it would galvanize the entire world of conceptual art. It would be called “Loaded Mossberg 500” and consist of that model of shotgun, sitting on a table. That’s it. There would be special protocols: the gun would be loaded with 7 shells — in full view — by an assistant IMMEDIATELY after the gallery opened each day, so the public could verify that it was live ammunition. The same assistant would unload the weapon at the close of each day should all the shells be left. And therein lies the excitement of the whole enterprise. Low odds, but high consequences. There were two problems with this: one, the idea sounded way, WAY better when I was tripping — hilariously, it seemed like MacArthur Grant material — and two, the gallery’s lawyer would not allow it. I doubt the lawyer had anything to do with it. My suspicion is that it was the gallery owner who nixed it. This seems fair enough. It’s not like I can’t imagine his concerns. I tried to rent a room in a downtown office building to do the piece but once I explained the purpose the offer was quickly withdrawn. I offered to maintain an armed security guard next to the piece at all times. No dice. The next day, I went to some other dump in the CBD to check out an office space, planning to be obscure about my purpose, but they had already heard about me and sent me away. One day some stoner kid was in my studio and on his way out the door, said, “You should make a bong out of it.” He said it, but when he said it, it wasn’t arch — he tossed it off, it fell from his lips like a Japanese cherry blossom. Once he'd left, I realized it was the best idea yet. After I made it, this gun became the house bong for a few weeks. It works great, though I haven’t exactly gotten used to putting the muzzle of a shotgun in my mouth. It’s still exciting every time.
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