'If something as stupid as this can get money...'
After receiving "tens of thousands of dollars" for a museum to hang words on a wall, satirist Charles Firth is as puzzled as the rest of us.PT2M50S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2xblp 620 349 November 11, 2013
Charles Firth has been "sacked" by the team working with him on the Sydney Museum of Words, after he described the satirical project as a scam.
Firth tweeted on Tuesday morning: "So the Sydney Museum of Words is currently holding an emergency meeting - without me - deciding whether to sack me. I don't understand." He wrote later: "Yep. They've sacked me. Ironically, I'm at a loss for words."
He told Fairfax Media a "huge argument" erupted following a widely read Fairfax story on Monday in which he said the City of Sydney had given him a $30,000 cultural grant that led him to devise a museum of words as it's "the cheapest thing in the world".
No love for Charles Firth after he called a satirical exhibition in Potts Point, Sydney, a 'scam'. Photo: Tamara Dean
"The rest of the team are resentful of the way I did the publicity," he said. "Tania Safi is the producer and she thought I overstepped the mark. She is brilliant and she has done all the heavy lifting."
Safi, a young Sydney artist, said: "The museum has been an ongoing legitimate project. A number of us from [Firth's satirical internet] NewsLab team have been working tirelessly on it for six months and we're disappointed that Charles made light of it.
"We think it's best he doesn't speak on behalf of the museum."
Safi said she was the one who contacted high-level writers, philosophers, actors, business people and others who have "loaned" words to the Potts Point gallery exhibit of words on walls, which opens on Saturday.
The serious idea behind the museum is to look at words out of context and reflect on the meanings society gives them.
About 50 artists, including Safi, have related work on sale in the museum shop.
"It's more a collective community project than a wankfest," she said. "It's something I believe in and has never been done before. I don't want this to deter anyone from visiting the museum."
Safi and Firth were also concerned that City of Sydney employees had been criticised by the public for granting money to a project that was portrayed as a scam.
However, an exasperated Firth - ever the comedian - said: "How can I be sacked from my own project? It's a satire!
"What is art except for an art scam? Every artist I know started out not thinking they were artists," he said, referring to friend and Sydney art professor Ian Howard. Howard gained access to high-security military zones around the world in order to do rubbings of weapons and war-related objects, which later became valued artworks.