March, the month of questioning continues….

Today’s question from ultragoddesssupertanshemale

Ok, enough art talk. I want dirt.
Give us all the juice on mean gallery owners, snobby artists, jacked off jimmies, and glitter art fag boys. Really now. What was it like to work with Kathy Acker, whom I think is a genius. Name others in the art world who blow you away. Who would you like to work with, besides me, and if you could interview Andrew Cunannan, what would you ask him?

It’s totally antithetical to spirit in which this was asked, but after a lot of reflection I can’t help but answer this in a way that I fear will disappoint you.
There was a time about 17,18 years ago when I saturated myself in the goings-on and gossip of the art world. I could tell you who was doing what, who dumped who from their gallery and who was the latest hot thing. The aftermath of my own success changed all of that. With increasing frequency I began to hear and read the distorted versions of my own actions and felt wounded by them. I felt envious about others’ success and paranoid about my own. I had no way of evaluating the relationships in my life, and stopped trusting them. Ultimately I was shut down, and very afraid to be myself in what I read as a hostile arena.
The choice I made was to ultimately interact with that arena as little as I could, to spend my time cultivating relationships and habits that helped me make work and that nourished me. I stopped reading art magazines, even the ones I was writing for, stopped attending openings unless they were those of very good friends, and gave up following the soap opera of art world life. So today I am pretty much out of dirt. In the course of my career there are certainly people who I have clashed with, who have treated me badly, who I may not have respect for, and there is much about the way that the business is organized and conducted that I don’t approve of. That’s what I see my current job as being about: trying to rectify those problems by teaching people a different way. Part of my technique for doing that is by trying to follow the dictumm “one should write bad things on running water”. My problems with people are either things I need to work on or things I need to let go of. I’ve found that rehearsing them does neither. Sorry, hon.

As for Kathy: She was a remarkable writer, and that is how I first came to know her. I was a star struck fan before I was anything else. I was also a friend of friends of hers. Our collaboration came next, and really it was, as I’ve said in another forum, me purchasing her attention: I got my gallery to hire her to write a catalog essay. It was right at the time that she was moving to San Francisco, and she basically interviewed me and then wrote the essay. It was only after this that I got to know her as a friend. The fact that I was a fan first made this easier,be cause Kathy was very self possessed, and had a bad habit of splitting with friends who were her peers. She was enormously disciplined in her writing habits, and then could be very insecure and unthinking in her emotional ones. I feel very lucky to have known her, but she did preserve a core of secrecy that was powerfully defended. She could be very fun at parties, and then could disappear for weeks, into her work or simply into her self. Many of those people I knew who knew her, especially fellow writers, ended up feeling bruised by the relationship. That didn’t happen with me, but there was a point just before her final illness where I think I was dropped as part of a mysterious triage she was performing on her relationships.

Who blows me away? Saul Steinberg, Hokusai, Crumb, Marianne Faithful,Chris Johansen, Amy Sillman, Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, Robert Gober, Stephen Westfall, Martin Puryear, Chris Ware, and others. A lot of them I included in my show “Something/Anything”.

I’d like to work with Lynne Tillman, Richard Foreman, Vaginal Davis, Susan Lori-Parks, Gary Simmons, Pat Oleszko, AA Bronson(again), the list goes on. And you of course.

What would I ask Cunannan? Do you realize that your choice of target confirmed your inability to transcend your innate tackiness?

edit: I forgot the person I’d most like to work with: Issey Miyake.


  1. gossip

    I think the only way to enjoy it is to be an outsider. Too much insider-ness, and you’re too partisan to view it with detachment. I’m one of those people people tell things to. I usually only repeat them to people even further out than I. But I couldn’t stop; secrets are in the Southern blood.

  2. appropos of nothing

    Do you realize that your choice of target confirmed your inability to transcend your innate tackiness?

    I have to say, I find supertanshemale’s innate tackiness rather compelling… *g*

  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the aftermath of success, Nay. It’s all food for thought for me (not that I’m anywhere near as successful as you are). I will never write another snarky review after having received a few of my own, and I am toying with the thought of not reading any after this book comes out. Fear of being yourself in a hostile arena certainly strikes a chord with me – and I don’t even hang out in the writer’s scene.

    P.S. Were you at Kathy Acker’s reading at the Arts Commission Gallery all those years ago? It’s still one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen. xoLP

  4. i didn’t know kathy well, but the way you characterize her sounds right — i do know that she left some folks feeling bruised, as you say — she sort of left a wake of turmoil behind her, or at least rumors of such.

    i was so incredibly in awe of her. someday i want to grow up to be like her…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.