the janitor

The Janitor

A janitor is usually defined as ‘a caretaker or doorkeeper of a building’. In the UK we call them caretakers. Every school used to have one (these days they are ‘site managers’); they lived in grotty houses just inside the school gates, and kept equally grotty dogs or cats. They were marginal figures, hovering on the boundary between the school and the outside world.

In the Harry Potter series, for example, this figure is Argus Filch, with his cat, Mrs Norris. He is quite an unsavoury character. The name says it all: ‘to filch’ is to pilfer or steal something, usually in a casual way.


Filch is not an outsider, but rather a figure who sits awkwardly between the two worlds – a squib, born into a wizarding family but possessing no magical powers.

I called myself the janitor at Furillen as a joke. I am just the guy who looks after the place, cleans up after visitors, fixes things. The designation suited my favourite outfit, the overalls.

The Old Man And The Sea

Over time, the name has stuck.

The janitor isn’t an artist – nor a curator. It is a role that is difficult to define, but interestingly, it does come up in installations within galleries, as in Palmer C Hayden’s ‘protest painting’ from the 1930s, The Janitor Who Paints 

janitor who paints

… as well as in cartoons about galleries …

'We better first check to see if that is trash or a piece of art.'
‘We better first check to see if that is trash or a piece of art.’
The janitor also appears as the innocent figure who cleans up a ‘mess’ that turns out to have been ‘art’

janitor 5

… or who removes a ‘stain’ that was integral to an art installation

janitor 6

In much the same vein, I quite like this cartoon, where the janitor is being told that what looks like trash is an artwork called ‘shunned by society’ …

Induction day at the modern art gallery was proving to be heavy going for Sam. . .
Induction day at the modern art gallery was proving to be heavy going for Sam. . .
… or this attempt by John Cake and Darren Neave to ridicule Damien Hirst’s formaldehyde-preserved tiger shark, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living – with a lego janitor, scowling and cynical …

janitor 3

In such images the janitor is portrayed as the wise fool, a guy with common sense and unwitting insight. Lacking the education or ‘class’ of the artists or visitors, the janitor plays a role similar to the child in Hans Christian Andersen’s story, The Emperor’s New Clothes – pointing at this ridiculous figure and puncturing the pomposity of everyone around him by stating the bleeding obvious and calling out ‘he isn’t wearing any clothes!’.


This is not, I hasten to add, how I see my own role at all. I like and enjoy a diverse range of art – and far from pointing out the pretentiousnesses of others, I can be rather pretentious myself.

But it’s interesting that art ‘needs’ such a figure, policing the margin between the ridiculous and the sublime.

And that – quite by accident – we created one at Furillen.

SaveMe Oh at Furillen

[2016/02/06 12:12] Serene Footman: hello
[2016/02/06 12:12] SaveMe Oh: hello
[2016/02/06 12:13] Serene Footman: i haven’t banned you, i’d like to see what you wanted to do
[2016/02/06 12:13] Serene Footman: so you are welcome
[2016/02/06 12:13] SaveMe Oh: thanlk you
[2016/02/06 12:13] SaveMe Oh: What I was actually doing was improvising on the landscape and the stream
[2016/02/06 12:14] SaveMe Oh: I liked it myself
[2016/02/06 12:14] Serene Footman: well forgive me for panicking when i saw the scale of what you were – presumably – wearing
[2016/02/06 12:14] SaveMe Oh: relax, It could have been much bigger
[2016/02/06 12:14] Serene Footman: haha
[2016/02/06 12:15] Serene Footman: anyway. we’re open
[2016/02/06 12:15] Serene Footman: help yourself
[2016/02/06 12:15] SaveMe Oh: I will, you are just in time, I almost deleted the lm
[2016/02/06 12:15] Serene Footman: i am happy to have a philosophical debate about freedom with you
[2016/02/06 12:15] Serene Footman: and ownership
[2016/02/06 12:16] Serene Footman: and the politics of access
[2016/02/06 12:16] SaveMe Oh: we have all our SL for that
[2016/02/06 12:16] Serene Footman: yes, but you seem to want to engage
[2016/02/06 12:16] Serene Footman: i am more than happy to engage with you
[2016/02/06 12:16] SaveMe Oh: works the quickest
[2016/02/06 12:16] Serene Footman: but you need to be open to debate
[2016/02/06 12:16] Serene Footman: and to counter argument
[2016/02/06 12:16] Serene Footman: it works both ways
[2016/02/06 12:16] SaveMe Oh: I am an artist, not a politician
[2016/02/06 12:17] SaveMe Oh: and I love drama
[2016/02/06 12:17] Serene Footman: that is a false distinction and i think you know it
[2016/02/06 12:17] SaveMe Oh: as an artist I have to love drama, as a guy with a wallet you might have other priorities
[2016/02/06 12:18] Serene Footman: not sure the guy with a wallet line works – cheap argument
[2016/02/06 12:18] Serene Footman: unless you want to tell me that you never ever use money
[2016/02/06 12:18] Serene Footman: it’s also bullshit
[2016/02/06 12:18] SaveMe Oh: advantage of being an artist is that I can switch between cheap and expensive arguments
[2016/02/06 12:19] Serene Footman: anyway, i want to see this
[2016/02/06 12:19] Serene Footman: oh you haven’t a clue who i am, i haven’t a clue who you are
[2016/02/06 12:19] Serene Footman: so let’s cut out the personal stuff
[2016/02/06 12:19] SaveMe Oh: let me introduce myself, I am the best virtual artist of SL

[2016/02/06 14:09] Serene Footman: this is awesome – i never saw you before
[2016/02/06 14:10] SaveMe Oh: dont hide under a stone again

Saving Oh

I had not heard of SaveMe Oh before she came to Furillen.

SaveMe Oh at Furillen

By the time she left, after three and a half hours of the most immersive and engaging art I have ever seen in Second Life, I was in awe.


And I felt privileged.

Saveme Oh Live Show @ Furillen *7

It was that good.

Saveme Oh Live Show @ Furillen *5

I tell this story partly against myself; it speaks of my ignorance, and possibly – as SaveMe Oh, might argue – of my arrogance, too.

I’ll take both criticisms.

But the main reason I am telling the story in this way – and my reason for quoting the dialogue above – is because, as a subsequent review of the history of this artist’s work has shown me, the context in which her art is performed matters a great deal to what she does.

save m e_013

It was not a good start. Engrossed in solving the latest issues with video on the sim, I saw what looked like a griefer kicking off. I ejected her twice.

She called me a dictator. With a fat wallet.

Maybe I’ll send her a card next week.


So I asked a friend whether she had heard of an avatar by the name of SaveMe Oh.

6357000215620651631897244636_raw (1)

Two minutes later, I asked the artist to come back and perform. With immense grace and wit – as the dialogue cited above demonstrates – she did so.

What followed was an astonishingly vivid performance, almost visceral at times, which seemed uncannily well suited to Furillen.

The sim’s music stream played a full part in the spectacle, as SaveMe Oh acknowledged. Indeed, she seemed to be responding to the music in the way her performance ebbed and flowed.

Saveme Oh Show Live @Furillen

save 2_007

There were moments of sheer spectacle …

SaveMe Oh at Furillen

save m e_007

… incredible colour …

Saveme Oh Live Show @Furillen *6

save 2_010

… unceasing movement …

save me_004

save 2_015

… great humour …

save m e_025

save m e_003

… and – to my eyes, at least – intense melancholy.

save m e_016

save m e_023

I should have known who SaveMe Oh was.

But I am pleased that I did not.

I don’t see myself as a dictator …

… but this was art in situ – on someone else’s terms.

And that – in Second Life, as in first life – is important.

It was an experience I will never forget.

Furillen Crime Scene – guest post

In a recent entry I floated the idea of guest posts on this blog. Here is the first one, by blipmumfuzz, who has provided a narrative in words and pictures called ‘Furillen Crime Scene’.

How this post came about is a typical Furillen story. I noticed blipmumfuzz – whom I had never met before – at Furillen using unusual poses (and outfits) in her pictures and checked out her flickr stream. What I found there, particularly in relation to Furillen, reminded me of a travelogue.

Then I spoke to her. She told me that she liked to make pictures that told stories. I suggested she could ramp it up a bit, by adding words to the pictures and making a ‘complete’ story … and then post it here.

What she went on to produce is a wonderful, witty and wacky example of the unusual stories people project on to the Furillen canvas – and of how to combine pictures with words.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did …

Furillen Crime Scene

by blipmumfuzz

Body of Assassinated Alliance Military Attache - Furillen

Excerpt from Classified Preliminary Report on January 23, 2025: Incident on Furillen Island

Colonel Thea Mandal-Rojas. Murdered by an unknown assassin. Colonel Rojas was on Furillen ostensibly for a holiday. But given her senior position within the Alliance of Southern Cartels’ intelligence services there is speculation that she was here to meet with opposition leaders who oppose the EU’s aggressive and blatant push for a piece of the lucrative Central American coca trade.

This was a professional job. The perpetrator left no evidence of any kind. We speculate that he/she arrived on the 11:45 ferry from Peaton. The body on the roof of the Ferry Terminal belongs to a maintenance worker. The body of an unidentified female was found on the pier. A third body, also female, was found washed up on the beach behind the hotel. At this time we are treating all these cases as the work of the individual responsible for Colonel Rojas’ murder.

Night Run to Peaton - Furillen

“My father and my grandfather were both ferry pilots. And now look at me…the first female ferry pilot to make the 10-hour run from Nynashamn!

That business last month. They say the person who killed all those people probably came over on MY ferry! All the passengers were later accounted for and cleared by the police. And we did a thorough stowaway check before departing, as we always do per procedures.

That poor girl Lilly from maintenance. Very pretty blond girl. She always waved from the dock when the ferry arrived.

 I surely hope they catch the person who did it.”

Crime Scene, Ferry Dock - Furillen

“Hey Mats. Do you think this could be connected to the murder of that Alliance Colonel over at the hotel?

“Don’t know.”

“Captain said within an hour military is gong to be all over this island…plus state, federal, the EU…

“When did he say that?

“Before he sent us out here.”

“That was two hours ago.

“Yeah well what about those two black helicopters parked by the hotel? And those fast boats been circling the island with no lights on?”

“I’m just saying its probably just a robbery.”

“Who is gong to rob someone and leave a suitcase full of cash behind!”

“This ain’t a James Bond movie…and who said there was a suitcase full of cash?”

“The night manager who found the colonel. But then the black helicopters arrived and since then its been total information blackout. They’re saying that the killer was a passenger on the ferry.”

“Forensics have an ID on the girl yet?”

“No. But they think its one of the ferry company’s maintenance staff.”

“Whoever she is she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“No doubt about that.”

Sir, we have a positive ID on the male... -  Furillen

Sir, we have a positive ID on the male. His name is Bernard Chatenet.

He’s worked for several political and criminal organizations including the FRG during the period it was actively opposing President La Pen’s candidacy. He’s also a Catholic priest with close ties to the Vatican’s intelligence service and military directorate.

He’s a behind the scenes operator. Rarely surfaces. The last time he popped up was three years ago in Reykjavik during the incident involving…



Yes. He was in Houston a few weeks before the US government ceded Texas to the Cartels.

SIAC has turned up nothing on what he was doing there. Neither has the CIA.

No, nothing at all.

Yes…I mean no, it’s not likely he’s a Rockets fan. Sorry Sir, I didn’t get the joke.

I haven’t a clue why he is in Furillen meeting with a senior member of the Alliance of Southern Cartel’s intelligence services.

Assassin - Closing on Target - Furillen

Breathe in…2…3…4. Breathe out…2…3…4.


That’s the manager getting up to pee.

Breathe in…2…3…4. Breathe out…2…3…4.

The cat in the laundry room.


Today was her first day at school. She’ll like the pink hat I got her in Stockholm.


Breathe in…2…3…4. Breathe out…2…3…4.

Suitcase Full of Money - Furillen

Memorandum, Page 1

To: Asst. Director, EU Office, Exxon Google Corporate Intelligence

From: M. Bennet, Field Officer

Re: Assassination of Colonel Thea Mandal-Rojas, Senior Officer, Alliance of Southern Cartels Intelligence Service

This photograph was taken in Colonel Thea Mandal-Rojas’ hotel room shortly after the Gotland police arrived at the scene. The suitcase contains an estimated 500K in US dollars. The fact that the individual who killed Colonel Rojas did not take any of the money strongly suggests that robbery was not a motive

So why would Colonel Rojas, a senior officer in the Cartels’ intelligence operations, who was in Furillen on holiday have such a large amount of cash in a suitcase in her hotel room?

Our theory is that she got the money from Alexander Chatenet who she met with at the hotel several hours before she was assassinated.

We believe Chatenet is working for the Vatican and that the money was an advance payment for the Colonel’s support in influencing her brother Alberto Rojas, the dissident Cardinal of the Archdiocese of New York and its new mayor.

With the Archdiocese firmly in control of the City Council, the Unions, and every other locus of power in the City, and with New York on the verge of breaking away from the United States, the Vatican desperately wants to bring Cardinal Rojas back into the fold.

For the Cartels, who are now in possession of Texas with its oil fields and vast refinery infrastructure, the last thing they want is for New York to secede just as they’ve solidified their grip on the United States Government, which has, in effect, become a Cartel client state.


Dock 3:30 A.M. - Furillen

Memorandum, Page 2

The question is, were the Cartels aware of Colonel Rojas’ business in Furillen, or was she acting “independently”?

We do not know that answer to that question.

The Swedish government, the EU, Interpol, and everybody else have issued APBs for Chatenet. If we can find him we expect he can shed some light on the matter. That said we are not confident that he will be found. In fact, we do not believe he left the island alive.

The assassin has disappeared without a trace.