April 2012: MCA Exhibit: “This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980’s”
March 2012: AIC Exhibit: “Focus: Sharon Hays”
November 2011: AIC Exhibit: “The Three Graces”
October 2011: AIC Exhibit: “Timothy H. O’Sullivan: The King Survey Photographs”
October 2011: AIC Exhibit: “Fujinuma Noboru: Master of Bamboo”
January 2011: DAM Exhibit: “Tutankhamen: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs”
August 2009: AIC Exhibit: “A Case For Wine: From King Tut to Today”
July 2009: AIC Exhibit: “Ink on Paper: Japanese Monochromatic Prints”
June 2009: AIC Exhibit: “Soaring Peaks, Lofty Spirits”
March 2009: AIC Exhibit: “Yousef Karsh: Regarding Heroes”
March 2009: AIC Exhibit: “Modern and Contemporary Works on Paper”
April 2008: DAM’s “Inspiring Impressionism”
Through the Lookinglass: The Art of Reflection
“At its height the state of being in love threatens to obliterate the boundaries between ego and object,” writes Freud. Through love, self (ego) becomes unified with object; they become one, a unified whole without boundaries.
The exhibit was empty, and I stepped in the darkened gallery between images projected on the wall, still listening to the 40 to 45 minute video loop.
I watched my classmates slip out of the enclosed space, one by one, following the lead of the first. I remained, taking notes, writing, watching, listening.
Five speakers, small, playing different scenes from different perspectives, noises absorbed by the egg carton baffle attached to plain, thick wooden panels. The room smelled of pine. Speakers pointing directly toward one another will cancel themselves out, sound waves losing themselves in one another, a bit like Freud’s ego and object. Four faced each other directly. Cancellation of waves. Only one, then, pointed directly at the black box where my peers minutes ago had just sat, produced any discernable sound.
“Look at me.”
What does that entail, and at what point does looker become one with the subject, absorbed, if you will, like the sound of Sharon Hayes’ exhibit or Freud’s ego and object?
The liminal space between the projected images in the second, now empty room allowed me to disappear momentarily. Slip unnoticed, if you will, between the cracks. One, two, three, four paces, then the viewer is superimposed upon the next image upon which he or she gazes, transformed into a silhouette, a shadow on the street scene projected onto the wall.
In the video, initially Hayes circles performers who read from a script like an animal stalking its prey. She holds a large, dangling, obtrusive boom mic over their heads, watching, recording, looking. Daring them to look back at her as they continue to read from their script. The actors reading their script, playing their part, reciting lines, don’t acknowledge her presence as she moves from scene to scene, Square to Square, city to city.
She cuts to a scene of a woman, seated as though she were being interviewed before a television camera, a talking head who dryly notes, “Ears are the only orifice that can’t be closed,” who later adds, “Now we have to think when we fuck.”
The pine and egg carton insulation enclosed space is empty. I watch a few of my classmates become part of the screen as they try to slip out of the exhibit unnoticed. They are recognizable silhouettes, uncomfortable with the exhibit overall, anxious to escape the voices confronting them, challenging them with the words, “Your voice was speaking as though we were in a large auditorium… There is nothing I can do but love you…. Boundaries dissolving…”
I step away from the actors, the boom mic, the artist, the voices, the self-cancelling speakers, the video screens. But they echo, following me into the next room, which is now also empty. I play on the city streets with the protestors, projected into their space. I remain a silhouette, only a passing shadow in their lives. Trafalgar Square, a plaza in France with the Golden Rose shop in the background, Trevi Fountain. Enduring symbols of love, protest, hope.
Words are no longer spoken by the actors, but are carried in protest: “Nous sommes innocents” (We are not innocent) “Rien ne sera comme avant” (Nothing will be as it was before) “Wir haben ein recht auf arbeit” (We have a right to work).
Perceptions of Love:
Modernity, Music, and Moore
AIC Modern Wing
Photo by RJ Molyneux-Davis, March 2011
My work... Education. Photography. The means for recording the fieldwork on which I will embark in a few months. Behar’s essay rings through my mind: “Our fieldnotes become palimpsest, useless unless plumbed for forgotten revelatory moments, unexpressed longings, and the wounds of regret” (9). Reads like a recipe of forgotten love. Am I merely an anthropologist, an observer ever fearful of allowing ego and object to cross boundaries? Am I haunted by “Loss, mourning, the longing for memory, the desire to enter into the world…and having no idea how to do it” (3)? Empty manuscripts of highlighted text, random notes, abandoned projects of my life flutter through the gutters of Hayes’ streets.
I cross from screen to screen, pausing in the liminal space, counting my steps, measuring the distance between me and the next object with which I will momentarily unite.
Half way through my international tour, the squares, the streets, the cities selected by Sharon Hayes, I see a familiar street. Times Square in New York. Fifth Avenue and Broadway, the only streets on which Sharon Hayes does not project my image. She keeps me distanced from that which is most familiar, most recognizable, most comfortable. Most intimate.
New York is projected from the ceiling rather than the floor like the other cities, and wires connecting to the platform on which New York sits erratically shake the projector as though the cameraman is nervous, hesitant.
My mind flashes back to Tim Dean’s description of barebacking, which saw its birth on that corner in America before the Square became a mecca for commerce. His words echo through my mind like the voices speaking through an empty auditorium or from the next room of the exhibit: “bareback sex often involves intimacy with strangers without predicating…intimacy…knowledge or understanding of the other” (211). Is it possible for a barebacker without intimacy, knowledge or understanding to love, to transect the boundaries between ego and object? Must the observer, the viewer, become intimate involved in the action which she or he sees? “Does an emotional response, Behar queries, “lessen or enhance intellectual understanding” (17). “Vulnerability,” she inserts, “is here to stay” (32).
The voice from the empty auditorium sounds like a stilted porn-star reading coldly from her script for the first time. “Oh baby, oh baby, fuck me, yeah” calls from the next room, followed by silence. Quietly, the sound of increased breath rate, first relaxed, accelerated, then heavy, is accompanied by a soft moan. Ego and object “obliterate the boundaries.” I walk out of the silent exhibition hall, alone.