Monday, October 17, 2011

Only connect

Remember that Exquisite Corpse guest who “approached me and made my night by raving about the performance, telling me how much it moved him—that he had a moment in which he realized he got it—and showing me, literally, pages he’d written as a response to the piece”? Remember when I didn’t have to resort to quoting myself when I’m already linking to said quote? That guest is Danny Bravman, and he [finally!] emailed me a few days ago. Here’s his message in full:

Hi, I'm not sure if you remember me. I was at the closing night of
Exquisite Corpse, and had been so moved by Caitlin's performance
piece, that I wrote a few pages of reactions which you said you'd be
interested in reading. I had some computer issues and, honestly,
forgot about it, but if you're still interested, here they are.  Other
than blanking a few names, I've not edited it at all; sorry if it's
hard to follow in some places.  It's a little detached for me to read
back on this a month later, I'll admit.

One girl painted another girl in red. The second girl rolled onto
placed paper. Repeat. I was confused, because the second girl was
the performer, yet it appeared like the first was the artist: the
first painting, while the second the brush she used. And then I
realized it- the point of the piece, the point of the whole exhibit,
the emotion of tonight, the meaning of the past few months, the answer
we’ve been seeking- collaboration. They are not alone. They work
together. They complement. What they create is greater than the

Eventually they exhaust the red, and there is blue now, and the result
is purple, so perfect thematically. The first girl has paint on her;
the second has patches of skin still visible. They have been talking
occasionally to each other, inaudibly behind the music and the crowd,
who at one point break into to interact with, calling for the second,
who had adhered to the paper and plastic she was rolling across to
“leave it”. And she lets herself roll herself up, cocooning herself
within her own art, then emerges, and lets the next coat be applied.
She is near naked, but yet not erotically: her exposure is not of
shame, but of sharing; playful. At the end they both procure
scissors- I do not know why- and cut up their work into scraps, not
into clothing as I first hypothesized.

I text back the location I originally was going to spitefully not give
K____, having been upset at the insultingly little effort put into
this purported friendship, this constant standing up, so badly lied,
the sort which had me write off another ______ _U 20__ graduate, to
let be given what I ought show to such behavior, contrasting with the
appreciation I show, the appreciation shown to me by J__ mere minutes
before, who was so touched at my friendship in traveling to Wisconsin
for her birthday, for her show, for her, that I realized how
unnecessarily bitter I’d been, by being alone, wandering through this
exhibit, taking a “Fish of Destiny” while leaving a crumpled up
“LIES”, drawing a half-visible off-to-the-side mist-shrouded head for
a trifold self-portrait, sending an unacknowledged text instead of
congratulating in person the sole artist I knew beforehand, silently
composing hurtful hates. But I feel I understand. Now I know. I see
collaboration before me. The second girl writes, her performance
concluded, on the external easels two questions: how is the body best
used for art, and vice versa. I look around, finding these papers and
pen, to take outside to write down reactions.

I understand her art. I understand their art. I understand myself.
We are not alone. We express ourselves, together, creating and
observing, together interpreting. And I hope my crumpled up paper is
still there, so that I can straighten out the scrap, cross out the
black word and write under in purple: “I understand now”. Let’s see.

Thank you so much, Danny, for reminding us why we make art in the first place. (Well, why a lot of us do, anyway.)

If you haven’t already, make sure you take part in last week’s discussion post! I also posed the same questions in the Chicago art discussion-based #chiart group on Facebook. Screencap of group members’ answers after the jump. The names and profile pictures have been redacted because, well, what happens in #chiart stays in #chiart:

Rocktober / October has been, so far, beautiful—perfect for the city’s seasonal art walks. This weekend, take the Bridgeport Art Walk and drop by 4Art Gallery, beginning on Friday 6–10pm, where you can view Spiritus Saltus and Opposition in person. See you there!

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