Tuesday, August 29, 2006
It was a surprise, the statement from the artist. A bigger surprise that hassen was the one to place it there. What I LOVE most about you hassen is that you REALLY DO like things shaken up, and don't mind. And I value that and thank you for that.
It was a surprise because we've had numerous conversations where I take this very argument that an artist has no control over something once it's made. This has upset you, AS IT HAS UPSET OTHERS, this very argument.
My old friend Michelle Strader paints some of the most exquisite paintings I've ever seen, in any gallery, in any museum, in fact I've been to galleries and museums where I shake my head and think how much BETTER she is! For years I would go to her apartment on the fourth floor next to Robin's Bookstore to see her latest creations. Then she started doing something I found intolerable, PAINFUL!
She showed me what is probably the best painting she ever painted. It was such a brilliant, beautiful PAINTING. She called me up, SHE CALLED ME UP, asked me to come see this painting. We sat there for HOURS smoking cigarettes, staring at it, TALKING ENDLESSLY about it. Then, the next day, she destroyed it.
When SHE CALLED ME UP to tell me she had destroyed it I went over to her apartment. We had the biggest fight of our friendship, and the fight was all about ART, and who it belongs to.
Her argument was simple. It was her painting, she could do whatever she wanted.
My argument was that it belonged only to her until she showed it to me. The moment an artist, poet, whoever, shares the work, it's imprinted in the FUCKING SOUL of that Other Person You Cannot Deny Is There Alive Like You Beside You, You Who Are Not Alone. Any violence done to the work is done to the person you shared it with.
The HUBRIS at thinking ART belongs to YOU ALONE after you've shared it is probably the worst kind of HUBRIS imaginable. Am I being dramatic? No, I don't think so.
What's worse than inviting the beauty of creation, then destroying it? PAINT YOUR FUCKING PAINTINGS AND NEVER SHOW THEM TO ANYONE AND BURN THEM! Don't drag the rest of us into your HELL!
If you could reach into my mind and destroy the experience of having SEEN it, LOVED it, then maybe, JUST MAYBE THEN I might agree.
I would rather Michelle had punched me in the face. What she did TO ME was worse. Am I being selfish? How could I POSSIBLY BE MORE SELFISH than someone who invites me into the HOLIEST place to be found, then burns the altar down? See it however you want, but selfish or not, I HAVE TO LIVE WITH THAT PAINTING I CANNOT GET OUT OF MY MIND FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE THAT BEAUTIFUL PAINTING, now gone. It's one of the UGLIEST experiences. And I've never forgiven it. And I have no intentions of ever forgiving it. And it ruined our friendship, and I say SO BE IT!
I told Michelle to never show me another painting she paints. She's tried, and I've told her to fuck off.
This violence is still too traumatic to me.
It's a violence that says the artist DOES NOT CARE about the millions of miles everyone else has traveled, those miles making them as THEY ARE AT THAT MOMENT upon seeing their work.
AND FRANKLY I WANT TO SAY TO ANY ARTIST who would do such a thing TO OTHERS that maybe they don't deserve the talent they have.
When will we arrive at that PLACE where art is something we Love together, all of us, not just some of us, not just a fancy fucking few, but every single person? Because everyone can. Because everyone has this gift to Love art, and TO MAKE ART THEMSELVES, and is that PLACE arriving soon?