I like hand-me-downs. I like collecting items from people’s past lives, when they move on and leave things behind. I like stumbling across a basement that’s been forgotten for 50 years. I like when a friend is moving and leaves behind a fully-furnished life. I am a collection of such things. Snapshots of hopes and dreams. Reflections of worldviews. Experiences architected. Past intentions and alternate visions. Sorted, arranged, and reconfigured. As such I am not a very creative presence – I am merely a collage artist.
These surroundings they put work into selecting – everything has a story, a history, a context – have a lot more character than something straight from the sweatshop (and not that weight on my conscience, of putting new waste into the world). These are the rich details they have selected and designed to augment experience. I am living in their building, I am riding their rollercoaster, I am watching their film. And though they wrote the original script for these details, when left behind they become profoundly mine.
When Jamie was moving from Santa Cruz to Kansas City he left a bit of stuff behind. I painted my room with his paints, I used his cartravision as a bedside table, I used his lights to illuminate the Birds Fled From Me music video, and I still sometimes wear a pair of his old shoes! Another of these items was a book that he hadn’t yet read but came highly recommended – Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz.
I am since then fanscinated by Bruno Schulz – both his writing and his art. The book is a portrait of a Polish town on the verge of modernization/Americanization, but also of that world being intruded into, one precious, spirited, and furnished with interior adventures. Of that existential alienation, the aloneness that comes with being a seperate conscious being, and of having everything, having the world, having your very own world, nonetheless. His drawings are perhaps the same. It’s in the facial expressions, the dynamic between subjects. I have rarely liked art, and even then only for superficial reasons–aesthetic or consciously ideological alignment. And so I am surprised to find myself having such a profound appreciation for this. I feel like Carol King in Killing Me Softly With His Song, I feel like Friedrich Nietzsche in the Birth of Tragedy. Somebody has read the secret stories of my soul and is retelling them.