The George Condo: Mental States Short Stories Competition is now OPEN!
We are inviting you to create 300 word short pieces of fiction, inspired by George Condo’s outlandish yet heart-rending paintings, and will be judged by George Condo and Hayward Gallery Director, Ralph Rugoff. The winning entrant will receive limited edition George Condo: Mental States playing cards, a signed catalogue and free tickets to one of Southbank Centre’s creative writing courses in 2012.
The competition is inspired by the fantasy characters of Condo’s portraits, and in particular his painting ‘The Psychoanalytic Puppeteer Losing His Mind’, which following a meeting with Salman Rushdie in 2001, led to a description of the painted figure to appear in his novel ‘Fury’
Here is an example short story, by Emily Webb, inspired by Skinny Jim.
Croaking Through The Weeds
Black dots on the trousers. She knew something was missing. Now she’d noticed it, she felt irrationally irritated by the clown’s subtly mismatched costume; pantaloons conspicuously void of the black dots scattered between insipid pastel blotches on the oversized top, drawing her eye away from his mediocre magic tricks. Perhaps that was it. Didn’t clowns always try and distract from their slights of hand? Not that distraction was a problem; the kids seemed distinctly unimpressed with this middle-aged pretender, more excited by the mechanical, back-flipping dog he’d just drawn from a top hat (live rabbits being, she assumed, a health and safety hazard these days).
She should obsess less. Too much time to think. But could she cope with her sister’s life, all children’s birthdays and runny noses and ketchup half wiped from the high chair? She battled with an orange, digging her fingers into its waxy resistance and releasing the skin’s musty, tangy smell. Something to do with her hands; she’d kill for a cigarette. Suddenly the squealing and thumping around her was too much. She abandoned the orange, oozing juice onto a cheap paper plate, and escaped into the garden.
Hopeful plants and ubiquitous weeds surrounded the squalid pond, the best assimilation of nature’s beauty this suburban neighbourhood could offer. She watched a lethargic frog lollop from the black tarpaulin into the water.
“Got a lighter?” A gruff voice behind her. The clown had finished his shift.
“Sorry, I’ve given up.”
She had the involuntary urge to grab the offending cigarette packet and chuck it into the pond. He seemed to notice the perfunctory reflex of her hand. They stood for a moment, held by the slight social oddity of the movement. The frog croaked, back up for air, echoing the clown’s guttural throat-clearing as he turned and left her to her cravings.
Here is the information on how to enter the competition:
- Short story submissions should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘George Condo Short Story Competition’ in the subject line.
- All stories must be original fiction and no more than 300 words long.
- The deadline for the competition is 6pm on 18 December 2011.
- The authors of those stories shortlisted for the overall prize will be alerted by email. Due to the volume of submissions, the Hayward Gallery may not be able to reply to all entries.
- The winning short stories will be posted here, on the Hayward Gallery blog: http://thehayward.southbankcentre.co.uk/
- NEW: All entrants will receive a limited edition George Condo: Mental States notepad
- NEW: The best 30 entries will be published with writers permission) on the Ether Books short stories app. Click here to find out more about Ether Books
George Condo, Skinny Jim, 2009, Private Collection. Image courtesy Luhring Augustine © the artist