Art

What’s Up With Patti Smith And Klaus Biesenbach’s Carrot-Crazed Instagram Photo Series?: A (Not So) Serious Investigation

The latest of the carrots (all images via Klaus Biesenbach’s Instagram; screenshots by author)

I don’t know about you, dearest Filthy Dreams readers, but I’m feeling a bit peckish. My stomach is growling, I’m feeling faint and the only remedy might be the biggest bowl of shredded carrots you’ve ever seen in your life. I want a mountain of those veggies! I want to eat so many carrots that I turn orange like a tangerine version of Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or our Cheeto-dusted president…you know what, scratch that.

Still, I know just the remedy to my feverishly frenzied fixation on carrot salad and its cause–a befuddling ongoing Instagram series of snapshots of punk queen Patti Smith and Klaus Biesenbach, formerly MoMA PS1 director and MoMA Curator-At-Large and now, director of MOCA LA. Every few months a new photograph appears on Biesenbach’s Instagram of the duo, sitting side by side at Uma’s in Rockaway Beach (No. Not Redondo Beach) posed behind a towering stack of carrots. Each time a new photograph in this series pops into my newsfeed, disrupting other people’s sad attempts at Insta-fame, I stare deep into the recesses of my smartphone screen, searching for an answer for that ever-present question: WHY?

And it happened again this week as Biesenbach posted another of these images on Monday, with Klaus in a smart suit and Patti in flannel looking awkward in front of more carrots than you can imagine. If there’s ever a carrot shortage, I know who to blame. Anyway, with this inspiration, I decided to finally feature this curiosity on Filthy Dreams so I could inflict this same existential question on you all, faithful readers, and maybe we can get to the bottom of this together.

Even though their styles–Patti’s freewheeling easy-going energy and Klaus’s Kraftwerk-obsessed stiffness–clash, the pairing of Smith and Biesenbach isn’t as unlikely as it seems in the photographs. It’s a well-known fact that they’re friends with connections to the Rockaways. Biesenbach even appears in Smith’s book M Train. And of course, Biesenbach is notorious for never meeting a famous person he didn’t want to pose or collaborate with. See: James Franco and more recently, Queer Eye’s resident pretty boy and avocado salad-maker Antoni. However, I’m not going to even drag Klaus for his blatant star-fuckery. If seeking to be adjacent to fame was a crime, the entire art world would be in prison. I see y’all at those gallery dinners.

Of course, it should be noted that this series is only on Biesenbach’s Instagram. If you search Smith’s poetic posts, there is no mention of their shared addiction to a singular root vegetable. Why are you holding out on carrot posting, Patti?! It seems like Patti might be one of the only writers who could turn carrot salads into something stunningly lyrical.

Searching on Yelp for Uma’s menu, I found the listing for their Korean Carrot Salad, which consists of shredded carrots, onions, cilantro, garlic and Korean spices, which admittedly sounds delicious. But, I ask you: how many carrots can two people eat in a lifetime? A lot apparently, enough that I’m starting to believe they are on some Dusty Springfield-like OCD trip, but instead of eating solely cauliflower and ice cream, they’ve chosen to support a local business with their monomaniacal monochromatic focus. As revealed in M Train, Smith is certainly one for rituals whether drinking coffee and eating a breakfast of toast and olive oil at her local coffee shop or watching trashy crime shows (me too, Patti!).

But more than just the carrots, it’s the sheer repetition that raises this social media photo series to the level of art. Viewed together under the hashtag #carrotsaladatumas (Yes, there’s a hashtag), the effect is eerie. Don’t believe me? Just look:

*cue the Twilight Zone theme*

Yikes! If you’ll notice, Patti changes in every photo–her hair is a bit different or she wears sunglasses. Biesenbach, however, appears shockingly the same, like a mannequin, ramping up the sense of surrealism. Often even the captions repeat, reading: “Good to have a routine.” Howard Hughes approves!

Now, they haven’t always ordered the carrot salad. One post showed the duo lunching on another salad, which was a huge disappointment. Get that trash out of here! I want a heap of orange spears or I want nothing!

WRONG!

With its repetition, these photographs could definitely be an artistic statement–something I’m sure is not lost on either of them. In fact, viewing these images feels like you’re stuck in a continual menu-driven flat circle of Nietzsche’s eternal recurrenceCarrot salad will be eaten…over and over again….for eternity. *stares into the middle distance*

But the big question remains: What does it all mean? Is this a Warholian gesture about the repeated production of Instagram posts? A musing on the mundane strangeness of modern life? A militant stance for vegetarianism? Is the meaning of life to be found on the bottom of that carrot bowl? Only Biesenbach and Smith know.

Whatever it is. I’m hungry…for more pictures of carrots. And for your viewing pleasure, also because everything else right now nationally is garbage, I’ve put together a series of the #carrotsaladatumas posts so you too can obsess:

Baby knows what’s up

 

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