The huge glob of white paint got bigger and bigger. For a handful of nanoseconds, my entire world – excepting the glob of paint – stopped. I might as well have been constructed of marble. I couldn’t move. Closer and closer, fell the huge glob of white paint. I watched, unblinking.
Then…splat! The huge glob of white paint landed square in my left eye. My first thought was, OMG I’ve been blinded! Well, it’s been a good run, seeing with two eyes. I’ll get used to an eyepatch in time.
I dropped the paint roller and ran to the restroom. All I could see out of the eye was white nothingness – no shapes, anything. But as I nervously, frenetically washed out my eye, I realized I was not in any pain. That calmed me a little and after a few washes I could make out shapes. Like I was swimming in milk. A few more washes later, I exited the bathroom with no more than a reddened eye. Vision clear. Back to work.
I’d been painting the ceiling of the storage room in my friend’s office. But I wasn’t thinking of painting while I was painting. I was thinking of curtains. Huge white curtains, waving in the air rising and falling, peaceful like…and reminding me of…um…what?
Over the weekend, I attended Ann Hamilton’s “event of a thread” (purposely lower-cased) at The Armory in New York City. The Armory is, well, an old armory that has been revitalized and specializes on presenting works of art on a grand scale. “event of a thread” was – it closed on January 6th – definitely grand. For $12, a body walked in to the sprawling space to find a huge white curtain rising and falling in the center of it. At the top of the curtain, one could see a complex system of chains – running through pulleys and connected to each other by wire – connected other chains from which forty-two wooden swings hung. Couples, pals, loners, but mostly children swung on the oversized swings, laughing, arguing, coughing, spreading the super flu.
All the while, the curtain rose and fell, for the movement of the swings controlled the movement of the huge white curtain. Under the curtain, lay an assorted group of paying customers. My girlfriend and I watched them lay about under the curtain, waiting for our turn. Then, as we lay there watching the curtain flow – amidst the rattle of pulleys, chains and voices – a type of peaceful, outdoor, drowsy peace fell over us. At least, for a handful of nanoseconds. After those nanoseconds, we were quite aware we were in a large room in a large city with many humans and a terrible overpopulation of pigeons. Oh, and part of the exhibit featured caged homing pigeons that were to be released toward the end of the time your $12 afforded you to be there – shortly after a female opera singer sang an aria from a balcony high above. There were a few other pieces to the exhibit, such as performers – dressed in a type of woolen robe – who said nothing but wrote on parchment incessantly as a mirror above them moved also to the rhythm of the swinging customers. Paper bags lay about the floor, from which a random vocal recording played. I could see how some might think the whole shebang was an act of genius – a work of art created by it’s audience to remind them of who they are and who they are with. Not a bad experience for $12. But since the audience did all the work, I am a little confused over the fact that “event of a thread” cost over a million dollars to put up (I did my research online, so forgive me if I am wrong on the number, though I did read that it cost as much as three million). I also confess that I had a tough time reconciling the theatrical additions (robed scribes, opera singer, pigeons) to the practical function (swinging and curtain) of the exhibit, which left me feeling a bit out of the loop.
But I tried to be in that loop. As I lay under the huge white curtain I thought, Oh, this exhibit reminds us of what it was like to swing on a swingset in a park – to laze about under the clothesline on the green green grass in the afternoon of a deliciously innocent childhood day. I remember now, when we used to swing free and feel safe. And, you – laying next to me -don’t you remember what it was like to be just plain happy to be alive? To inherently know one is forever connected to the world, its wind and the movement of fellow humans? Before we had our head’s stuck in smartphones? I had one foot in the loop, and was happy to have found footing – to be a part of the whole shebang. Then we get up off the floor. I took a look at the others still basking under the curtain. Smartphones, smartphones, smartphones. Eyes on the hand robots, fingers a tappin’ away, sending sweet nothings to their bff’s. Of course, some were recording the curtain. A keepsake, to remind them always of the curtain they filmed, while laying under it, next to other people who filmed it.
We then walked up and through the balcony. Smartphones. Texting. Faces lit up by the antiseptic glow of the interworld that can’t reach out and harm you on a real street – a world that doesn’t offer you the pain of love, just the miserable safety from it. I took a look below. People of all ages swung, one hand holding the swing, the other a smartphone. I drank it all in and started judging. Then, of course, felt the urge to pull out my own smartphone. And guess what, I did. But I managed to put it away right after I saw there were no new noticications on my Facebook page.
We left the exhibit before the opera singer sang and the pigeons were released. Believe me, I like opera, and I also believe pigeons have the right to exist. I just had a feeling I wouldn’t be able to hear the singer amidst the idle chatter…and, whether a pigeon is trained to fly into a coupe at the other end of an armory or not, a pigeon still has to shit.
After cleaning my eye, I went back in and finished painting the ceiling. Then I moved to the walls, which were to be painted gray – which reminded me of pigeons. The wall paint was acryllic instead of latex, and if I got it in my eye chances are I would not be blogging right now. I would probably be trying on eye-patches. I needed to pay close attention this time around. However, I was daydreaming again in no time. I couldn’t tell you at all what I was daydreaming about, for I was dizzy as hell and seeing tracers due to the fumes of the paint. But I forged on and finished the job. That’s what an adult does. And I did a good job, because if I don’t, I may not get another job. You know how it goes. You also know what it’s like to not have those responsibilities, even if only for the few seconds of childhood you can remember – those few seconds of wind and sun and purity. That’s what “event of a thread” did for me – it reminded me of things I should always remember.
But the dizzy high soon gave way to intense anger. My arms were tired, my neck was burned with soreness, I had a headache. But I wasn’t mad at any of that. I was mad at the Art world for supporting million dollar projects where an audiences members pay for to masturbate in front of each other. I was mad because million dollar Art projects only lead to other million dollar Art projects for once the ceiling has been raised you have to keep it raised or else the big money funding doesn’t come around next year. I was mad because so much money gets wasted on a handful of “geniuses” while more and more artists -singers, dancers, painters, actors, musicians, chainsaw sculptors and glass blowers who just want the chance to do their thing, to make themselves known to others as artists – will remain in the shadows of the wall built around the world of artistic opportunity, constructed of capital and built by elitists. I was mad because Art absolutely cannot cost 1 to 3 million dollars. Art is not Wall Street, Art is not Capitalism. Art is not the survival of the fittest. Art – for the love of god – is a search, where we get up on our tippy toes, reach outside of our base human nature with hope and faith of touching on the divine. Every now and then one of us does that, and he or she propels our species foward, closer to Love and Freedom and a little futher away from the Law of the Jungle. Money does not do that. Money keeps us in the Jungle.
Damn, was I mad, so mad I had to take a break from painting. During my break, I noticed a few thin areas on the wall, and realized getting mad on the clock leads to bad results which may factor in my getting the next job or not. I stuck a sock in my brainmouth and went back to work.
I should take this time to tell you that my friend and his partner – whose storage space I was painting – run a gay porn production company. They don’t make Art and they know it – just gay porn. But gay porn is an honest business, It denies not its direct relationship to capitalism and adheres to the dictates of it: do whatever you gotta do to make a lot. The business is booming. And…
“It’s gotta be More and it’s gotta be Now,” my friend told me. “The business moves so fast. We have to keep topping what we’ve done, and it has to be up to date. A movie that is a few years old is a dinosaur.”
I have to say I don’t know how the gay porn industry can top itself right now. I’ve seen things. Things I can’t explain – seen the body do things. And I’ve only glanced at the covers. I haven’t slid a dvd into the welcoming slot of a dvd player, found the play button which reveals the magic of the union. I may never get the chance, because…
“Of course,” friend continued, “the peep theatres and smut stores are closing down, one after the other. Everything’s going online. Most of our business comes from our website. Pretty soon we won’t even bother with dvd’s.
What?! Not hard copies of gay porn?! Or, even straight porn, for that matter?! Pretty soon we can only get it on the interweb?! Hell, with the way it’s goin’, pretty soon we won’t even be having sex, the gays or the straights! Well, maybe that makes sense. Afterall, we have to be reminded of what it’s like to swing on an afternoon. Humans are becoming a less active species, living more in a world in our head, accessed via our fingertips. We may very well have to be reminded of what sex used to be like. Sex – the ultimate act of pleasure. Without it, no life, no ceilings to paint.
But hey, I’m not self-righteous, I promise you I’m not. I am a Capitalist, as much as I hate to admit it. I am a Capitalist, simply by living in a Capitalist state. Give me a million bucks and I’ll show you what sex used to be like. Beats breaking my back painting ceilings. Hell, for three million bucks and I’ll do it with a smile on my face. Don’t worry, I’m harmless. You won’t even have to come near me. Just stream it on your smartphone.
To my fellow pornographic Capitalists reaching beyond his or her humanity for just the slightest possibility of touching the divine…be well.