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Mike River, the owner of the Artificium Gallery situated on New York’s Fifth Avenue, was waiting for Glen Dinano. The brief message from the artist had fueled his imagination. The title – The Great Leap of Ronald McDonald – seemed catchy and he liked this idea of selling reproductions of the main event, these twelve numbered reproductions. His work partner Mia gave a little smile: "why not" she let slip.

Mike had chosen the lounge of the Hotel Peninsula to discuss the matter with Glen. Small and plump, Mike was sporting a pink shirt to brighten up his charcoal grey suit. From the comfort of his oatmeal armchair, he glanced around the hotel room. Pleasant music, only a few customers, two tall, blonde figures at the bar with flawless curves – definitely out of his price range. Here and there were some men in made-to-measure suits, about fifty like him, moving about leisurely.

Glen came through the revolving door: tall, thin, skinny jeans, worn-out jacket, sunken face, five o’clock shadow. The gallery owner recognized him immediately and muttered: "styled like an ageing English teenager, a caricature of the rebel artist, of the non-conformist, definitely a junkie..." Glen gave a faint smile and pulled up a chair.

"Hi Mike. Have you thought about my project?"

"Yes Glen, the subject of your email: the suicide of the capitalist world as represented by Ronald McDonald. I’m interested in it. We all know Ronald."

"It’s catchy, straightforward, in the spirit of the times: actually, what motivates me most of all is the creation of my twelve synchronized reproductions."

"The project is an ambitious one, I think it’s all doable, but we need to look at it in more detail."

Mike refilled his glass of fizzy water. Glen ordered his Bloody Mary and began his narrative:

"So, this is the first scene:

Well in fact the idea came to me one evening in a McDonalds that was practically deserted, no children around. I put my tray down on a table opposite the clown himself, where he was sitting on his bench like an idiot. He was smiling to himself, not bothered by the smell of frying.

I ate slowly, then I went to sit next to him. It amused me to see the furtive looks of the employees. I put my hand on Ronald’s. In fact, I sensed the horror of his situation, of his world-weariness over all those years. I was gripped by a feeling of empathy at his distress: in his place I would kill myself!"

When they turned out the lights, my mind was made up. His suicide could free him, could close his lips for good. A suicide, but one that serves a purpose – to denounce the capitalist world and if possible, to be profitable for me. As I left, I turned around. He seemed to be resigned and willing.

Ronald will appear perched at the top of a building, leaning over the void. Obviously, I will be by his side to take our selfies. At precisely 10 pm, he will fall towards the target right at the bottom of the building where he will smash, break into pieces in a pool of blood.

Glen got his breath back and ordered another drink. In silence, Mike went over the film, his film: long-angle shot, to the top of the building, Glen next to Ronald who is leaning over, the fall. The clown has a camera inserted into his right eye; swirling images, the ground getting nearer, darkness for three seconds, a muffled sound, sweeping view of the faces of the spectating crowd, close-up of the exploded head, the pool of blood spreading out…

Mike gave his imagination free rein: images sprang up from the words in quick succession.

"Yes Glen, it is possible: I know of a building just two steps from my gallery; good position; open to view; with a small space at the bottom on the right-hand side."

"Mike, can you get the go-ahead from the owner?"

"I think so. He sells luxury items. This artistic happening will make the address famous. He will want to keep your installation in place for at least a few months."

"Okay, that suits me."

The artist emptied his glass before describing his reproductions.

"Mike I know your exhibition space to be long and narrow: my twelve reproductions will line up on both sides of a central alleyway. Each model will have a square, grey base of sixty centimeters with its red and white target. Placed at an angle will be a meter-high white slab with its little Ronald perched on the top.

When Ronald falls from the top of the building, his twelve little brothers will smash in your gallery. You must place emphasis on the synchronicity, on the simultaneous suicides, with blood on all the slogans I will have written on the targets."

Glen had got carried away in his enthusiasm and had raised his voice. People were turning to look at them. Mike tried to tone it down." Hold on, let’s meet up again at the gallery with Mia. The budget, contracts, media plan – we cannot do all that around a hotel table."


Mike knew of Glen’s reputation: ideas; minimum effort; always short of money. He knew that Mia, his partner, would be his best defense against unnecessary expenses. It already amused him to see Glen steered by her, to hear him complain. The beautiful Eurasian came into the world thirty-five years ago, with the express purpose of gagging this sort of character. He imagined her born of a Scottish father and a mother from the Chinese heartland: an unlikely couple; a spectacular outcome.

Even before Glen and Mia met up, Mike said to himself “He will try and have her straight off. She will send him packing. He’ll start showing off, displaying his overinflated ego: she won’t be interested, she’ll think only of our profit.”

Glen quickly understood that Mike would leave him in the clutches of Mia. Everything played out as predicted. For their first meeting, she wore a little black dress and crossed her slender legs fastidiously. The artist, aroused, invited her out to eat. She replied:

"I eat only organic produce and always at precisely six pm. I go to bed at nine pm and get up at 4 am."

"Mia, I will be the artist of the century" Glen attempted.

"You’ll be that in one hundred years – after your reincarnation as a modest man."

There was nothing left for him but to be submissive and to muzzle his ego for a while. As predicted, he complained to Mike about Mia’s coldness and inaccessibility.

"What’s Mia’s problem? She’s a proper dictator!"

"Try being charming, poetic" Mike said maliciously.

"Anyway, I don’t want to be under her thumb."

"You will be successful with her; she has international connections. Without Mia you might as well look for another gallery."

"Is she the boss here then?"

"No, we each have our own area and hers is communication and contacts."

"You two are strange partners!" Glenn left resignedly.

Schedules, estimate requests, monitoring expenses, contacting amateur modern art artists – Mia took charge of everything. The big Ronald and the twelve little Ronalds were produced. Little bags filled with red paint were placed underneath their clothes. Glen began to write outraged slogans on the targets, denouncing the State, Financial Institutions, and Intelligentsia.

Mia kept an eye on the artist’s mood swings, and watched over the expenditure that Glen tried blithely to increase. He wanted lots of cameras: aimed at the top of the building; towards the future spectators; in Ronald’s eye; in the gallery and the row of reproductions. In five months, thanks to Mia, everything was in place to flood the social networks, to be certain of media support and to be equipped with an online bidding system. Mia knew that everything depended on the buzz created by the clown’s suicide to lead to the sale of the twelve reproductions carefully lined up in the gallery.


It’s the fatal night. Mike is sitting in front of his screen, as calm as possible. What happened at 10 pm precisely, only a few feet away from his gallery, is so huge.

Everything was filmed, from every angle, with staging, music and lighting. Glen’s long, rangy, dark silhouette holding Ronald’s hand. They leaned across the void. All the lights went out for a few seconds. When the lights came back on, the unthinkable happened: the artist and the clown fell towards the target together.

Mike followed the scene on his screens: the two lifeless bodies splayed out amidst red puddles; the astonished crowd began to react. The networks went viral, Mia stayed silent. She looked over the exhibition room where the twelve little Ronalds each fell lifeless onto their target. A smile began to appear on her face as she saw the bids flowing in.

"Mia! What an idiot. He killed himself! How can you just sit still and not say anything?"

"Relax Mike, we came out on top, everything is sold for way more than we predicted."

"But Glen!"

"Wait five minutes and all will be revealed."

"You pulled a stunt, he didn’t jump?"

"Obviously. He loves the money and the lifestyle of this world too much, the world he claims drives him mad. It’s his model that lay lifeless on the ground."

André Gouyneau lives in New Caledonia - South Pacific. Story was published in Atlantis, Amsterdam Quarterly, New Caledonia.


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