Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Conceptual, Continued

And so to console myself, I went to the movies.
I chose that new M. Winterbottom, "Tristam Shandy" about the handling and mishandling of a what has been called an, "unfilmable" memoir. Had I seen this film and been on my toes before the incident at the gallery, I could have read it as some sort of forshadowing device in the story which is the Mishanging of My Diptych.
Instead, I guess my choice of that movie was possibly my subconscious saying, "look, the comical bungling of the filming of an unfilmable eighteenth century memoir. How apropos!"
Or something. The bungling part anyway. (And I suppose I relate in some cosmic and symbolic way to the accidental circumcision of young Tristam by a slamming window although utter castration would be more apt in my scenario. Symbolically, of course.)

Before the movie began, my phone began to vibrate. Checking to see if the babysitter was calling with inevitable bad news, I fled to the theater lobby. Instead, an unfamiliar voice identified herself as the director of the gallery where my diptych hangs, all bound up.

"Lori Nelson?"
"Oh, hello. This is the gallery director. I called the other number you gave us, but it must be wrong. A child answered."
"Heh. Oh."
"Anyway, the committee met about your request."
"Right. I need you to remove the binding from my diptych. It's not supposed to be part of the piece. I wrapped it up that way so that the jury would know that it is a diptych and so it wouldn't fall to the ground."

She then went on to tell me about the pains the jury, headed by a grand Chelsea gallery curatorial guy, had taken to not move one single criss-crossing fiber on the piece and that they had thought the binding very smart in light of the title ("Interchangeable Diptych".) She also complemented my seemingly strategic placement of every strand of yarn, assuring me that nothing had been disrupted during the piece's hanging.
This all made me wonder exactly who the genius is taking up residence, rent free, inside of me. It certainly isn't me or any part of me that I can take credit for.

"Right," I said, "but can you take it off soon? Can I just snip it with my nail-clippers tomorrow?"
"Uh, no."
"No? It's not meant to be all bound up like that. It's an interchangeable diptych."
"All diptychs should have been submitted fastened together. Joined."
"But that would defeat my intentions. It's an interchangeable diptych."
"So it said in the title. That's what makes the binding interesting."
"Well. We can't rewrite history, can we. Mr. Chelsea chose the piece the way it was presented."
"But that was binding. Packaging"
"The curator chose it that way."

So there it is. The Genius inside of me who, in 30 quick seconds created interesting work out of what took me a solid two weeks to paint and the Curator know best.

Who am I anyway but an accidentally circumcised little git trying to relay an unpaintable memoir? This memoir is up for grabs.


Anonymous Tommy Williams said...

Maybe it's not your inner genius: more likely, it's the curator and other officials at the gallery who are unwilling to admit they couldn't distinguish packaging from art.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous KeepYerBag said...

Art: The politics of creativity.

3:59 PM  
Anonymous BIG Mike said...

You just have to face facts. Everything you touch turns to art.

4:58 PM  
Blogger dr. fluffy jones said...

Wow. That's crazy and must, immediately, be written up as either:

a letter to the editor of the New York Times Arts page (can I write it, huh, can I, huh??)

a scribble diary entry of an unknown artist that will become unnervingly famous when she dies

a play that will be performed on (or rather OFF) off/off/off Broadway, discovered, then performed ON Broadway, turned into a musical to the tune of millions, then turned into a fabulously successful movie, gathering Oscars and Golden Globes, all tied together with string in the Citizen Kane-like storehouses of Los Angeles....

Seriously. Good for you. You've just created something completely new -- the Brooklyn School Misunderstood Art (BSMA), kind of like the Land of Misfit Toys (LMT) of which I am a resident. Welcome to our shores!

6:04 PM  
Blogger Writermama said...

Maybe the yarn distinguished the piece from all the other submissions? Maybe you should be thankful for it? If that helps??? (You can just tell me to shut up, if you want.)

10:47 PM  
Blogger tinarama said...

Great story! As a commercial artist I deal with this kind of compromise too (though my "art" is not nearly as beautiful as yours). It's amazing how often clients will choose the ugliest possible version of a piece, or demand changes that totally destroy what I was trying to achieve. But hey, it's their money, and I don't have to sign my work. It'll be interesting to see how all this plays out for you ... maybe you'll become famous as a kooky yarn-bondage artist!

2:59 PM  
Blogger newbrooklyner said...

tommy williams, you are partially right but I think my Genius and the gallery are in cahoots. I think they know more than I do;.

big mike, you're right! When the director couldn't believe that I hadn't intentionally laid out the yarn in some meaningful way, I told her that she should see how I apply postage stamps to envelopes. It's art!

Dr., I don't think the Times would be interested. But I can't wait to be famous, except that you think I'll be dead, but it will be fun anyway. Thanks for your words. I hope you write the play and give me half-price tickets.

Writermama, that's what I'm afraid of. I'm afraid that the yarn was the distinguishing factor in my piece's selection and that is problematic because I consider it very freshman and more importantly, I didn't really think of it. I want to be in charge. (My issues are showing. Oops.)

tinarama (hi! I love blog crossover). I think your attitude is exemplary. I'll give myself over to the part of me that is the People like best: the Yarn Artist. I merge now with myself to become the Yartist.
I am the Yartist.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous BIG Mike said...

I always get curator and janitor mixed up. Maybe the gallery made the same mistake hiring your infamous "unwrapper".

4:31 PM  
Anonymous The Lilac Penguin said...

I leave you alone for a few days and you become a circumcised git?


First off, we all know those type of curator art people who 'believe' they 'know and understand the concept of the work' I had a few professors like that. You think the curator set is unbelievable, you should talk to the art history crowd.

Second, A bio line is a bio line is a bio line. You get to use his stupidity as your gallery listing for future shows and submittals.

Third, art is subjective, and that man is just an abverb in the sentence of life...

Your art speaks to people. They just need to listen.

10:52 PM  
Anonymous momma said...

Sneak in, or send your sensible daughter in, to snip it while your magical son creates a scene. And see how long it takes them to bring in quality 'restorers' who won't be able to get it quite right and so then you sue them. And you become much more famouser and richer and no less happy than before. Listen to your momma.

3:34 AM  
Anonymous dug said...

i like it. just change the name. oh, and the school. you are now a dadaist. congratulations.

11:12 AM  
Anonymous matt said...

i'm a little late to the party.....but accidentally circumcised by a window? how in the hell is that even possible?! why was it layed out on the window sill?

one of the joys of living in NYC is being able to see movies about such things.

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Gillian said...

Excellent. I am telling this story to everyone I know. Being a semi-artist myself (in the theatre that is), I have met many incarnations of your gallery curator. They and their ideas make life endlessly entertaining - and sometimes exhausting - and I usually prefer to go have a drink with the slightly more down-to-earth newbrooklyner type artists, given the choice, don't you?

5:46 PM  
Blogger puddle said...

Being a poet in grad school is much the same: oh this poet did this/did that because blah, blah, blah. . . .

No no that's not the way one writes. . .

Shut up, we know blah blah blah

Part of the training, I think.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Billie said...

Now I don't feel so bad that I don't get Rothko's squares. Apparently even art experts don't always get the concept of art right.

10:28 AM  

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