Patient “P” suffers from what we psychiatrists call “Post-Exhibition Perceptual Syndrome”, a delusional state where everyday objects are perceived to be works of art. In its mild form, the condition is not uncommon. Whilst visiting a modern art exhibition, not a few people start to wonder whether ordinary things like light switches, signs and random marks on the wall are, in fact, exhibits. Indeed, some may feel they prefer them to the actual works on display. This state can sometimes persist for a while after leaving the exhibition, so that objects in everyday life can seem like artworks, too. Unfortunately, Patient “P” has a more extreme form in which he scours his environment for such entirely unintentional “artworks”. He goes so far as to maintain a photographic record of these. To illustrate his condition, some of the photographs are shown below.
There is no better example than exhibit 1, which is nothing more than a glass case of fire-fighting equipment at Bank station in the City of London. However, “P” insists that it must be a secret commission by London Underground of Damien Hirst vitrine. He even has a title for it: “The Potential for Life in the Matter of Something Inanimate”. What can that even mean? When pressed, he rambles incoherently about carbon and reincarnation.
We can only hope that “P” responds to treatment, but I’m afraid he shows little sign of doing so yet.