October 29th, 2011 / 6:26 pm
Word Spaces

i think i fell in love last night

Last night I went to a, well, artist talk I suppose, featuring my good friend D-L Alvarez, and an artist I wasn’t formerly familiar with, Colter Jacobsen. The event, as a whole, was terrific. But this is perhaps because I like when I encounter new things to think about.

Darrell’s talk was fantastic, of course, a personal narrative lauding his relationship with books, with art, how these things are working, with people. The distance between D-L’s performative aura and his mode-of-everyday-being always catches me off guard, but it’s good, it’s professional. Darrell’s story was lovely, of course. Stories I had heard part of before, stories that featured the artist Jennifer Locke who I was sitting next to, who hugs me every time she sees me, stories about Raymond Carver, stories about Stockton, CA. Well, one story, really, with all of these.

Colter was second, and there was a sort of beautiful disorientation to it. There was no performative aspect here, there was basically only stuttering and a power-point presentation of some of his own work. However there was a winding sense of thought that, due perhaps to how much more space was left open, found me thinking more about ideas that are, perhaps, tangential to the work. The space also left my wanting the talk to be a discussion, but I kept my mouth shut.

At one point a work was presented that was a drawing of a cell-phone photo that Colter’s boyfriend had sent him of a snapshot from Bas Jan Ader’s “I’m Searchin’,” part of Ader’s In Search of the Miraculous. At the specific revelatory moment of sentimentality, I fell completely in love and fugued into the daydream of a conceptual artist boyfriend who couldn’t watch I’m Too Sad To Tell You without crying himself. How it would be a perfect combination of his praxis to my theory. A fit. My day dream ended, of course, and I remembered how mostly I actually think relationships are terrible and how nothing in the world can ever fit into my headland. But, then, just as I was returning to earth, Felix Gonzales-Torres’s words arrived:

The theory in the books is to make you live better and that’s what, I think, all theory should do. It’s about trying to show you certain ways of constructing reality. I’m not even saying finding (I’m using my words very carefully), but there are certain ways of constructing reality that helps you live better, there’s no doubt about it. When I teach, that’s what I show my students – to read all this stuff without a critical attitude. Theory is not the endpoint of work; it is work along the way to the work. To read it actively is just a process that will hopefully bring us to a less shadowed place.

Again and again I can’t help but find myself thrust into this theory of a constructed reality: beyond theory, an active construction of reality. This is what everything I ever think about leads to: if you’re unhappy in the world, make a new world. This is what I mean when I say I don’t understand depression, even if I could say that I’ve found myself depressed: I have to remove the stasis and thrust myself into confusion until I find myself making something new. Destroy the world, it’s not worth it, then make a new one.

I mean this literally of course. I’m not speaking in the abstract here.

In the essay in the show’s catalogue Joseph said it very well, “The failure of conceptual art is actually its success.” Because we, in the next generation, took those strategies and didn’t worry if it looked like art or not, that was their business. We just took it and said that it didn’t look like art, there’s no question about it but this is what we’re doing. So I do believe in looking back and going through school reading books. You learn from these people. Then, hopefully, you try to make it, not better (because you can’t make it better), but you make it in a way that makes sense. Like the Don Quixote of Pierre Menard by Borges; it’s exactly the same thing but it’s better because it’s right now. It was written with a history of now, although it’s the same, word by word.

“It’s exactly the same thing but it’s better because it’s right now.” This sentiment is the answer, this is how reality metes with a constructed reality: It’s exactly the same thing but it’s better because it’s right now. I ended the world by quitting my job and moving across the country with absolutely no plan. I currently inhabit the reality I constructed. This destroyed my ego and gave me a new one. I no longer fear the first-person pronoun when I write about thought. I love my body, I love its presence, and it will always be here. I can’t imagine removing the self.

But the self is not the point. I mentioned an insistent egotism in my last post, an idea that I can only write for myself. That anyone can only write for themself. This is true. Of course it is. But this truth is not a scapegoat. It’s not an excuse. I am my art but I am not my art but I am my art but I am not a person I am an event. Fuck this word subjectivity I’m too busy doing what God could never both finishing. You know, I’m making reality here.

…I’ve become burnt out with trying to have some kind of personal presence in the work. Because I’m not my art. It’s not the form and it’s not the shape, not the way these things function that’s being put into question. What is being put into question is me. I made “Untitled” (Placebo) because I needed to make it. There was no other consideration involved except that I wanted to make art work that could disappear, that never existed, and it was a metaphor for when Ross was dying. So it was a metaphor that I would abandon this work before this work abandoned me. I’m going to destroy it before it destroys me. That was my little amount of power when it came to this work. I didn’t want it to last, because then it couldn’t hurt me. From the very beginning it was not even there – I made something that doesn’t exist. I control the pain. That’s really what it is. That’s one of the parts of this work. Of course, it has to do with all the bullshit of seduction and the art of authenticity. I know that stuff, but on the other side, it has a personal level that is very real. It’s not about being a con artist. It’s also about excess, about the excess of pleasure[.] It’s like a child who wants a landscape of candies. First and foremost it’s about Ross. Then I wanted to please myself and then everybody.

After the artist talk I went to the bar with the artists and the curators and some friends. I drank two whiskey-sodas, half of the beer D-L had no desire to finish, and then, out of curiosity of novelty, I drank two “Sofias,” the Sofia Coppola “champagne in a can.” The first one that came was delivered to me already poured in a glass. The can was absent, I was crushed. But the drink was good, so I ordered another, this time insisting that I needed the drink to come in the can.

I live in a world where champagne in a can exists and that makes life great.

Because life is great I ended up not having to pay for my drinks, life won again, and I stumbled back to the house where I’m currently crashing on the couch to find my roommates preparing (i.e. putting their costumes together) to go out. Their energy gave me a second wind, despite the fact that I had woken up at 6am to go to my shitty seasonal retail job. I put on a costume and drank some vodka mixed with Redbull & Orangina and was ready to go. I hopped on a bike and we screamed and laughed on the way to a lesbian bar where I knew I had no chance of getting laid. Drank more because it’s Halloween and life is exciting. Stopped to get nachos on the way home, fell asleep on my couch and woke up 8 hours later to sunlight streaming through the window.

All excerpted text from Interview with Felix Gonzalez-Torres by Robert Storr

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  1. marshall

      seems like you’re having a good time

  2. mimi

      and the weekend is still young  

      report back to us Tuesday  

      if you’re still standing

  3. Tim Jones-Yelvington


  4. deadgod

      Reality “constructed” out of what?  Are there rules of persistence, rules that persist?  Of what do ‘freedom’ and ‘decision’ and ‘control’ consist?

      The Deleuzive contrast Gonzalez-Torres (shouldn’t his name be tagged??) makes between “critical” and “active”:  how far can it be trusted?  Does one ‘act’ (as opposed to ‘react’) completely without critique, completely other-than-“critical[ly]”?

      (–or, by “critical”, does he just mean ‘negatively without principle; negatively for the sake of attitude or of winning’?)

  5. Lilzed

      “I ended the world by quitting my job and moving across the country with
      absolutely no plan. I currently inhabit the reality I constructed … I no longer fear the
      first-person pronoun when I write about thought. I love my body, I love
      its presence, and it will always be here.”

      this is great.

      would love to see a whole blog post on this

      i don’t quite understand what you said about destroying your ego but also never being able to imagine removing the self. any case some contradiction here that seems important to you.