What importance are holiday rituals?
I start this by saying, I had a completely lame Halloween. The weekend started out strong, Gordon Matta Clark Opening at the Pulitzer, Both ends together show at Fort Gondo. Then on Saturday Cam and I became bogged down by work. First we spent three hours looking at property 'cause we are thinking of rehabbing a building for studio-live space. Then we spent 5 hours in the studio, which often is a admirable way to spend a weekend, but not so good on Halloween.
This year I did not have Halloween ritual, no pumpkin carving (I did paint a pumpkin), no daily shot of candy, no trick or treaters at my house. 10:30pm at my house, post studio, I started feeling sad and remorseful. In an attempt to bring alive a little Day of the Dead I asked Cam to tell me about people in his life that he'd lost. - like what kind of food they liked and what they enjoyed doing. This brought some closeness between us and I was able to think about my own grandmother who is probably at this point the greatest absence in my life.
Anyways In years past I've participated in Day of the Dead in Mexico City which lasts three days, by walking around and looking at shrines. Day of the Dead on Cherokee Street which consisted of an impromptu parade, shrines, and shared food. I have a close childhood friend who regularly threw creative Halloween parties. In college we would go to multiple costume parties. One year with three friends and a dog we coordinated to be the Scooby Doo Gang. As a child, I went trick or treating in homemade costumes that I spent weeks making.
I love costuming and performance. I like the trickster quality of Halloween where people transform in to something or someone else for the night. What I learned this year was don't forget to keep your holiday traditions a priority.
This lack of Halloween led to a little relationship understanding as I learned my need for connection and community is at times in opposition to Cam's need for solitude and hermit-ness. That seems to be okay as long as we don't stop being ourselves.
One of my interior struggles as an artist are I want both connection and solitude. I want to generate something that I am proud of that can embody my ideas about the world and then I really enjoy sharing that with people.
Do I take myself too seriously? I stumbled into an at times pretentious reading which left me thinking man why do these people take themselves so seriously. This led to a conversation with a friend about people who just want to make things that are good or poetic or performative, pick a word. Not everyone needs to make something that has a social or community consciousness, which I agree with and I myself suffer. Sometimes I might just want to make a painting about beauty or personal experience. I'm probably most interested in people that embody both ideas; they take them self seriously and they are playful or they acknowledge that it out of their control, in the end anyways. Probably my pet peeve is just perpetual name droppers.
Pulitzer Show is a strong one, especially if you've never seen a Gordon Matta Clark show before. I saw it a few years ago at MCA in Chicago and it was stellar. This is a nice re-situating of some of these pieces. A few are more provocative, like the four corners of the home that are positioned to suggest the rest of the building, inside a small room that creates an intimate experience. Also really was interested in the trash wall piece as I'd seen the video of WU students collecting trash and knew that one of my friends BJ Vogt had helped cast that piece. I enjoyed that there was a performative fluxus quality to this piece as it seemed to be about collaboration, following directions, and collecting in space in a manner that was semi-performative for the student collectors. (I saw footage of two guys lugging a couch down the road). I missed however the takeaway quality of the Walls paper. That seemed to me to be an essential part of Clark's work, that this was something that any person could take and then contribute to their space somehow.
Cherokee Street Both ends show at Gondo was a nice conglomeration of artifacts, brainstorms, and ephemera from past Cherokee projects and collaborations. It hinted at the history of art and activism on the streets and switched the context of much of the art from hanging on community art space walls, at local businesses, and home walls to the temporary gallery space.
Have also been meaning to talk about being in the CAT class at RAC only am puzzled about how to describe an experience that is partially meant to be kept among the members at the meetings. Although very time consuming as evident by the three day marathon meetings and outside meetings with mini groups, I am looking forward to the little nuggets of ideas and approaches for community art projects. Also it has been a treasure for me to discover an entire new network of artists working in and around St. Louis.
Thrill the World the international M.J. dance performance was a success over a 100 people. One ritual I did not miss this year! Here is a picture of me in my costume.
All ritual was not lost! Today I had my unofficial Halloween celebration. I started doing laundy at my parent's house, where I was able to eat at least 4 hershey miniature candies. Then I went down to Cherokee Street for the Dia de Los Muertos gathering put together by Minerva. I saw a few ofrendas, ate some free bread and cake, got a sugar skull from Minerva, and then sat to draw one of the ofrendas. There was even a spontaneous low rider car parade down the street! Minerva said she'd been getting slack from people on facebook about not having more stuff going on, it sounds like there weren't many people that came out to help support and make other events happen. Who knows maybe its the slow economy or too much going on elsewhere....Reguardless I got a little bit of the connection that I was missing.