Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Life is so much stranger than art
I'm in the geriatric psyche hospital with my dad and other "complicated cases." It's activity hour on his second day. The volunteer musician's guitar was painfully out of tune; his timing uneven and hard to follow, yet these eight sad souls (myself included) gathered around the creamsicle dining table under florescent lights in too small a room, meekly singing along. My dad looked like a baby bird as his mouth opened his, chin tipped upward, singing quietly, you are my sunshine, my only sunshine. you make me happy when skies are grey. you always know dear, how much I love you. Please, don't take my sunshine away. He looked at me through his delusions and said very evenly, this is kind of a depressing scene, huh? Then the musician introduced the Beach Boys hit, "Let me go home... Why don't they let me go home? This is the worst trip I've ever been on." Yeah, Dad, it's depressing, also very surreal, and sadly, sort of genius.
I think about what I've taken in in the last seven days performance-wise (Saint Genet & Ezra Dickenson) and relate it to this experience--the facade of mental stability, delicate well-being juxtaposed against the strength of physical constitution, the body's will to live even as it is attacked and neglected; the lack of resources to understand our minds and work with them when they have betrayed us in some way; the lack of dignity in living, the desperate and beautiful attempts to transcend the horror and banality of what it takes to stay alive and what it takes to die. Or at least I get that from how the work is framed, perhaps more than what is actually in it.
I see, appreciate and want to go toward the attempts to create something brutally real and beautiful simultaneously. I want to get at that, use ourselves as material and posit something magnificent, yet grounded, without the heavy dose of salesmanship and narcissism, the heroes and antiheros, the exploitation with no real analysis of exploitation to provide context. I want more from it than what is there. I say this with the utmost respect for artists that go headlong unabated towards their vision. These are my questions and desires, not theirs.
I myself am performing this weekend, attempting to dive into something vast and incomprehensible, to experience a series of fleeting moments of understanding in a performance space, nothing remotely as colorful or twisted as a room full of minds worked on by years of sadness or dementia.
But this is what we do.
I'm contributing to the work of Aiko Kinoshita and Aaron Swartzman's series of shows grappling with memory. The first showings at Project Space Available this Friday and Saturday. Info is here: http://umamiperformance.wordpress.com/
Also, for lighter fare, In Transit screens in the Alt Shorts fest at SIFF tomorrow night - 9pm. One hour in the Philadelphia Subway with a go pro.
Please excuse the somber and slightly morbid tone. It's been that kind of week.