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Magic in "The New Yorker" magazine

06/29/2009

Magic Pest Management in “The New Yorker” Rebecca Mead Onward and Upward with the Arts “The Art Doctor” The New Yorker, May 11, 2009, p. 58 excerpt from page 61. ... The meeting was interrupted by the ringing of the doorbell, notifying Sheidemann of the arrival of an expert whom he had called in for a more pressing case. This was “Sister Perpetua’s Lie” an installation by Ree Morton, the late conceptual artist... The work, which included several tree stumps, had been in storage since 1995. When it was un-crated, It was discovered on of the stumps had started to rot... Sheidemann had been charged with finding and preparing a replacement. ...A member of the team had identified the kind of tree the stump came from: a White Oak. ...we painted it and stained it and then we realized that it is contaminated with bugs...
The expert consultant was Jimmy Tallman, From a company called Magic Exterminating, the name of which was embroidered upon the breast pocket of his blue work shirt. Tallman frowned as he looked at the stump. “It’s not dry-wood termites,” he said thoughtfully. “it’s some kind of bore beetle.” He made a call on his cell phone to his boss. “Hey Lou, How are you?” he said. “ I am with some customers in an art gallery with some white oak that is going to be part of a display. There are pebbles. It could be bore, right?” Lou apparently agreed that the piece need to come into the shop for fumigation, which would take place in a heated chamber the size of Scheidemann’s studio. The remain question was whether the stump needed to be shipped to the shop, which would take up precious time, or whether Tallman could transport it himself, in his van. “What’s the value?” with a note of uncertainty in his voice. “Ten dollars,” Sheidemann said. Tallman looked relieved. “That’s good,” good he said “Because I had one lady, a customer, and I took her antique table out with me, and it turned out to be worth twenty thousand dollars.”
“This will eventually be part of an invaluable installation,” Scheidemann said. “But I think we gave ten dollars for the cutting. So right now it’s worth ten dollars.”