First off, I am in residence at "Elsewhere artist collaborative" between the dates of August 22 and September 18, 2012. I have made a cardboard replica of the classical guitar I own that I couldn't bring with me. Then, I made a book from the cardboard replica by using bits of the body for the cover and other bits to make pulp for paper. The cloth in the binding was used to make the paper. The book binding thread I brought from home (How boring).
I started this project after seeing Sylvia Grey arguing about selling a copy of the Beatles "White Album" to a customer. The customer apparently tried to haggle or he wanted to buy it to sell it or he didn't seem to care about music enough or something to similar effect. The customer's actions breached his appreciation quotas of the Album. After conversing a little more I saw Sylvia crack the album against the counter, exploding the vinyl into unmusical projectiles. The gentleman's face turned green and then white and his arms fell to his sides in disbelief. "Don't you know?" he thought. "How could she destroy such fine music?" he thought.
What does this mean? Destruction as a way of appreciation? It certainly wasn't about money. She could have at least sold that record to somebody more respectful than the man. It wasn't about her affection for the Beatles' music as the record now lies in shards. As an act of exasperation it denied the lack of appreciation. That is what I think this action reveals. "I will destroy this vinyl as an act of prevention".
I do not really have an appreciation for things, you know objects. No, thats a lie. Well the word "appreciation" is a lie. Its not that I don't care about them; I'm just not careful. Even things I love will end up crumbles beneath my feet as I cry about breaking them. I'm careless, even with irreplaceable items, like old photos or pieces of art. Seeing the similarity among people, I assume that others are careless as well. I have to take multiple steps to be extra careful with things I love and protect them from other people. My guitar for instance. I remember driving home with it in the car and thinking that if I got into an accident that the guitar would be ruined. Maybe there is a reckless driver on the road. Perhaps I don't trust myself enough. Not to mention, if a crash occurred, I might be too dead to practice on my newly acquired prize. Let's back up a bit and I'll explain why my guitar means so much to me. Of course even if I explain everything, there is no way to know everything but I'll go ahead and try.
My Dad gave me the guitar for graduating from undergrad. My father is a sweetheart. If you knew him you would love him. Graduation, however, was a bittersweet achievement because my mother failed to keep her promise to live to see the ceremony. I was angry at her for breaking her promise (I had no right to be so angry; I failed to keep several promises to her.). The guitar seemed like a concession for this anger. I only went to the damn school because she wanted me to. The only reason besides disappointment was playing guitar which I studied there. I stayed up most the night taking care of both parents and often fell asleep in Mom's room while playing guitar for her. Throughout all this mess I still practiced and played in ensemble. Keep in mind: I stayed up all night most nights, I had to commute to school, I had homework for other classes etc. I still played guitar. I brought sheet music while bed sitting at the hospital and tapped the rhythms.Tragedy really shows interests I guess.
I studied guitar with Joel Brown at Skidmore college. He is a favorite teacher without a doubt. Not only does he play beautiful music, he was so generous with his time. He helps a lot of students at the school. I'll give an example. You see, I am horrified to play in front of anybody. Its the music you know. I play music because I love music. When I perform I want people to love the music I'm playing because I love the music I'm playing. Its a lot of pressure you see. For my senior recital, Joel set up five or so mini concerts for me to play so I would be less nervous for the big concert. I performed for general music classes and beginning guitar ensemble. I even performed at his house for his friends and Peggy cooked for us. He did everything in his power so I would succeed. Not to mention I didn't really play guitar well when I first met him. My life wouldn't be as rich if he wasn't my professor. He helped me choose the guitar depicted in cardboard. Joel met the luthier at a convention. His name is David Leplante and lives in Selkirk, NY. I visited David's house, where his shop is. He told me about all the different options for a guitar and I played some of his guitars he made on spec. I felt honored to buy a piece of art made by a true craftsmen. Even though I am an artist, I haven't bought much art for financial reasons. I waited 6 months while he made it.
I tried to make music when I first was here. I wrote some work with samples. Odes to things. If you want to hear something terrible you can listen to "Ode to my desk drawer" on my computer. How pathetic am I to be stopped by this place? I can't practice music because I don't have my guitar Dad gave me. I learned how to play Leo Brouwer's piece in the hospital for fuck sake by tapping on the window. With all this shit here I can't play any music. None of the things here are my things. I can never own the items of Sylvia's legacy, both literally and figuratively. I can't make art either. Usually, I'll practice in my studio for hours until I think of something worth doing. At my last residency I spent more time practicing than making art. Here I just pace the floors. I became desperate. I tried to play the organ. I banged on metal cages with pick up microphones. I carved fruit instruments. I plucked instruments broken and bombarded by bouncy balls. I just ran around annoying everybody. It wasn't about loving music, it was habitual. I wasn't happy. Nobody was happy. I am so lucky that this is the reason I can't play guitar.
Back to the story at the top of the page. I am like Sylvia you see. I made a guitar out of cardboard that can't play. I spent hours making it and refining it. So what. Others can't appreciate it. The cardboard guitar bores me without it connections. People might admire my craftsmanship or whatever. So what. I hate them. What am I doing here? Destruction is the only option. The impostor taunts, like the monster of Frankenstein, as I walk by. It disgusts me for not being the thing I want it to be. I hate it. All I do is make corpses. As an act of exasperation I must destroy to prevent lack of appreciation.
I have such a problem with presence. I keep making art the reminds me of how happy I used to be or why I can't be happy now. What about now? My real project is being in this place playing and making games with people here. I keep reminding myself of my sadness. I keep practicing memory of things I can't have. I am just so anxious to see my memories. You know those nightmares where you dream of things you no longer have. I always dream about talking to my Mom again or seeing my dad walk again or whatever. I keep telling myself in the dream that this is not real. But part of me still believes it because I want to believe it. This creation is my nightmare. I want to forget what it is like to be resourceful when there is loss. My real project isn't this stupid monstrosity of cardboard. My project is here. My project should be living here and remembering what happens here and practice remembering here. My life is shaped by loss instead of gain. How do I change this? This is why Sylvia destroyed the album. She wanted this place to be about discovery and not about memory of loss. The man wishing to buy the album practiced memory of the Beatles he once had not discovery of music. I am not like Sylvia, but I will attempt to be like her.