…on some themes from yesterday:
It’s been a fraught few weeks, attemting to fit what essentially is a full time job into a part time schedule, preparing a series of pieces for exhibition, and maintaining a sense of connectedness with the world and with others. In the midst of it I’ve been feeling the lack of mentorship, of older and more experienced artists to talk to, and in a sense to be unformed in front of. At the same time I’ve been going out and seing things, as one does here and more often than not they have served to point up my current dilemma. A patial list: The Nomi Song, Night: an exhibition of photographs by Peter Hujar from the late 70’s and early 80’s, and Richard Foreman’s latest play The Gods Are Pounding My Head. They have, singly and in combination, made me, as I put it yesterday, sad.
Sad because they have forcibly brought home to me the loss of my own adolescence, the end of the city I grew up loving, the current scarcity of work that inspires me, indeed, the lack of available mentors. I feel two reasons for this. One, Foreman articulates beautifully in his program notes for his play:
I come from a tradition of Western Culture in which the ideal,(my ideal) was the complex, dense and “cathedral-like” structure of the highly educated and articulate personality – a man or woman who carried inside themselves a personally constructed and unique version of the entire heritage of the West…
…But today I see within us all (myself included) the replacement of complex inner density with a new kind of self – evolving under the pressure of information overload and the technology of the “instantly available”. A new self that needs to contain less and less of of a repertory of dense cultural inheritance – as we all become “pancake people” – spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accesed by the mere touch of a button.
The other cause is simply AIDS. The Nomi SOng reminded of the frightening alienness of the early years of the epidemic, and for me personally, I have been feeling the empty vastness of the museums, the silence of the halls and clubs that might have been filled up with the works of those artists who are gone. Seeing Hujar’s pictures was like stumbling on the beautiful wreckage washed ashore long after the fact. It seems ludicrus to be saying it at this point, but I feel that those of us who are left are still shell shocked, even iff we don’t know it. Today I see the simpering trivialities who populate the meatpacking district and I think Ethyl Eichelberger died and made way for that?
I know it is incumbent on me to keep going, because I am one of the ones whose still around, and every work is a testament to and an argument for a way of life, even if that way is as Forman is argueing, already compromised. But I’m tired right now, and confused, and looking for someone further along to tell me what to do next. And even in the midst of that I am a surly and wounded pupuil who retreats and rebels and is a little too in love with the sound of his own voice.
In the midst of thoughts like these I have to say that I found Donnie Darko to be more symptom than relief: thoughtful but bland. Many people have recommended it to me first because it has a guy in a rabbit suit in it, but also because I sense that it was pivotal for many of them. I respect that, but I have to say that it wasn’t enough to pull me out of my own orbit.
I did see two things that cheered me yesterday: The Saul Steinberg show at Pace, and The Tigerlilies’ Shockheaded Peter courtesy of Thor. Puppetry always makes me glad.