Walker Art Center


February 07, 2003


Ack! Ick! i have been swallowing too much NEWS and thought patterns start to take on the same dry day-to-day zoom-to-doom , all in grave Cassandra tones, melodramatic, drawn-out, repititious ... stink of blimey reality and/or a low-risk death...
i think i'm about to cough up a hairball or something.

so this afternoon i ducked out of a few obligations and escaped to Berkeley where the University museum had a free " first thursdays" of the month.

Fred Wilson has an exhibit. An artist who has ingeniously managed to slip into the museum world in order to radically question its methods of categorization by laying out a minefield of racial and historical tensions. Apparently for the last 2 decades , my brochure states , " anthropological and art historical critiques of museums have often focused on methods of display , highlighting a friction between objects categorized as artifacts and objets d art "
( hmm, o.k. )
well Wilson takes this friction as a launching point for one mean ass culture jam on museum perceptions as a whole ( not stated in brochure).

one piece is a glass case divided into 2 sections . on the left are pre-Columbian artefacts and in the right are " artefacts " of cocain drug paraphenalia ... crack pipes, viles, various sized spoons, scales, etc. also laid out in the same typical historical fashion.
just behind and above the case is a foto image of some archeological excavation site w/ a label on either side . 1. site of pre-columbian findings 2. area of cocain production.
So... basically , an impossible museum perception of Columbian "culture" via Fred Wilson... and it's hilarious and fairly loaded w/ the sad reality of the devastation of urban black communities , given the fact that we may already know ... or will soon come to know that Afro-American Fred's got ISSUES, MAN !

the next piece is a more obvious gut-wrencher... and manages once again to miraculously have a bullseye sense of humor in the midst of PAINful memory .
originally installed in a Baltimore Maryland museum , in fact his first museum exhibition, is called Making Cabinets , i think.
4 ornate chairs from 18th century - Victorian ? design ( from Baltimore's own collection ) facing theater-like a whipping post that not-so-strangely resembles a
basicly a torture instrument ( a term i NEVER see used in America's denial to describe anything related to the treatment of black slaves and prisoners ) used for fixing a prisoner to a post and leaving the backside exposed for whipping ...which we are told is also from the Baltimore "collection " but had never been publicly displayed... we also learn , from the accompanying text or was it my tour guide ?, that it had actually been in use up until the 1950's !

and along the wall are historical REWARD posters for missing slaves .

once again an impossible museum connection, juxtaposition.

i won't have time to describe others here ( if u request, i'll try to relate some more ) but fred's a rock star, chosen for this year's Venice Bienalle so perhaps he'll be coming to a Museum ( you might never enter them quite the same way again ) neAR YOU ! check him out !

so the afternoon stretched me in 2 directions ...impressive tales of expression, and infiltration ... and emotionally jarring , deep reflection.

the weight , perhaps the stronger of the 2 forces has pulled me pretty low, especially since i was headed there already ...

you see , this was a bit of a research trip ...as i'm just realizing now... a group of us have formed to embark on a film project about immigrant detentions...
stories i hope to find time to relate here in coming entires... and we are a team of pretty adept culture jammers , if i say so myself, ... and we will look for precisely Wilsonesque ways to pull the legs out from under the institutional and now hyperdriven racism, but the task is DAUNTING. ( note: pulling someone's leg is an expression for making a joke . )

to utilize humor so close to tragedy, is this an impossible idea ?! isn't there some saying that says "comedy is tragedy + time. "

where is the time ?


meanwhile personal world is losing blood rapidly and find myself running deeper into the woods [ insert M. Gira soundtrack here mixed with a melancholy Nino Rota ]

coincidentally , as i left the museum i ran into a couple , whom i had met some years back... the woman, strange, erotic and evidently somewhat self-destructive ( she had decorative scars to illustrate ) had invited me to partcipate in her newly Opened relationship and while she didn't say it , i think i was to be the first... and well the situation's already overloaded context really didn't arouse me , or should i say, i tasted some ambiguous despair even before the intimacy could begin.

Now this hairball text should at this point arrive at some concluding parallel descent and confusion , but i think i'll try to perform some eventful colorful shift...

Once on a momentous occasion in Seattle some pods and Cellspacers joined in the streets w/ an affinity group calling ourselves " the Committee for Full ENJOYMENT ! " ingeniously named by bay area's situationist guru Chris Carlsson and 848 Community
members - the very title was like a compass as we entered extremely dangerous waters ... and mantra-like it kept us safe , focused and repeatedly smiling in victory.

Posted by pod(s) at February 7, 2003 11:59 AM

>to utilize humor so close to tragedy, is this an
>impossible idea ?! isn't there some saying that says
> "comedy is tragedy + time.

If it isn't then it should be.

But sometimes comedy + time is tragedy. Think of all thge negro jokes (white man laughing while using the not so called torture machine)

And sometimes tragedy + time is nostalgia.

Posted by: Jeroen Goulooze on February 7, 2003 01:04 PM

hey pod,
thanks for your interesting digital narrative...
the link looks very interesting, but i am gonna need to find some time to go through it...

later... osfa

Posted by: osfa on February 11, 2003 09:56 AM
Post a comment