Hey, if you’re in Miami (and I should be! and so should you! we should all be there having an amazing time!!), check out Seven, which opens today!
My boat book is there, along with a whole bunch of drawings and books. It opens today!
I inevitably deal with the thought of a bunch of my work going up somewhere (in this case, at the fair in Miami) by brainstorming for future exhibits. The idea I have right now is very raw and just something I started chewing on, so I have no idea how much sense it makes.
Basically, I’ve been thinking about a few things: the way which I never deal with the period of time when I was a teenager (either in my own head or in my work – it’s always either me as a child or me as an adult); the influence of industrial music on me growing up and, in particular, the relationship to me and my gender and industrial music (this is an awkward way of explaining that there were simply NO women industrial musicians that we all listened to as teenagers, and that I was quite aware of this at the time); the weird place and time that I grew up in, which in retrospect seems idyllic, even if I hated it at the time.
One of the things that was great about NJ in the late 80s/early 90s is that it was reasonably cheap to open a retail store. So you had tons of these weird retail shops that seemed to have the strangest business models imaginable. I remember going to one place that was like a Yayoi Kusama installation (I was 15 or so, so I certainly didn’t know who she was) – a big, open storefront with mirrors on the walls, white ceilings and floors, and in the middle of the room, a single pedestal with a black cat sleeping at its base, on which a bong sat. Seriously, what the hell was that? I look back on that sort of thing and wonder if I dreamed it. What about the health food store where all the communists would hang out and eat frozen tofutti and talk about overthrowing the government? Or the main hangout of me and my friends, a cafe that specialized in espresso and industrial music?
These places were an absolute haven for me. They were retail with no real retail… the shop owners, not under incredible pressure to pay the bills, weren’t in any rush to push to the door the teens who hung out at them. A couple of kids sitting around nursing $2 espressos for hours? No problem. I think about these places all the time, and how there’s nothing like them anymore.
Anyway. Using that as a launching off point, I came up with this proposal that in a weird way, pays tribute to those places. In particular, to a record store my friends and I went to all the time, and a cafe in Edgewater, NJ (the cafe has moved and then reopened as a restaurant – I haven’t been there since I was 17, but I was pleasantly surprised by the photos online to see that it looks largely the same). I used the floorplan of BravinLee as a basis for the proposal, but I haven’t talked to them about it or anything – I just needed something to work with:
The idea is that in the main space there would be drawings all over the walls, and in the middle stacks of these “fake records” I’ve been making (more on that in a future post) so that at first glance it looks like someone selling off their record collection during a drawing show. But then as you look around and flip through the records, you see that there are these connections between the work on the walls (my drawings) and what’s in the record bins. The drawings are “precious objects” and sell for whatever my work sells for; the albums are around $10 each (maybe $20 if they’re full length or something). There will be about 500 records and maybe 50 drawings.
On one of those walls are three ink drawings of the three places that inspired this installation: Cafe Enigma, Cafe Soundz, and Two Tone. Soundz is still there but is now just a record store; Two Tone long ago switched hands, but was your standard punk rock t-shirt/jewelry/clothing store. Coming out of the project space in the back would be this sort of tunnel that would lead you into the next room. The next room would be like a cave (which is to say that it would refer to the bizarre style of what was once Cafe Enigma), with brown paper covering the walls, ceiling and floor. You would have to enter into this tunnel in the main space and then walk through to the project space, where you would come upon two benches, made from the same material as was covering the walls, ceiling and floors. In the middle of the “cave” would be a chandelier hanging over a table on which there is a small, utopian village made out of cut paper, watercolor, and text. There would be headphones around that would play my naive attempts to recreate industrial music with a feminist angle (this will likely be horrible, but I like the premise and the idea enough that it doesn’t matter to me what the end result is).
I’m thinking a lot about juxtaposing my very “feminine” drawings with what was a very “masculine” space. I put quotes around those words because in my mind, my work isn’t necessarily that feminine, and the space of a record store/hangout isn’t exactly masculine… but those are the words that I think can come closest to describing what I mean.
Does any of this make any sense at all? I’m not sure, but I like where it’s going.
(Update, several days later: I’m starting to think what I want to have is one or two very large drawings in the main space, with smaller drawings in the smaller space. Not a huge change, but things are starting to solidify in my head a bit.)
I’m gearing up to be in the Degenerate Craft Fair, which means I’m running around making a ton of things that can be worn/played with/lived with/etc, ie all the things art usually doesn’t do because it’s instead hanging on the wall and being looked at.
All this preparing leads me to wonder what the hell ever happened to the person/entity/company I consider to be the greatest designer of clothing/jewelry/purses ever, Pluto Cat on Earth. When I was in college, Pluto Cat had a store in the East Village; later, they started selling their stuff through this little store on 2nd Ave and about 12th Street that carried various Japanese-y fashion items. Is Pluto Cat Japanese? I have no idea. But their stuff is incredible. Honestly, one of my greatest regrets in life is that I didn’t stock up on more stuff when I could. Both stores that carried their stuff are now gone, and I can’t find a listing for them online anywhere (aside from some listings for a prop company which is probably what they have morphed into, but doesn’t help me).
Ok, so what did Pluto Cat make? Really, really incredible stuff that was cool and funny and weird, and not at all about being either pretty or tough. You could wear one item with a completely boring outfit and it would just make it so much better. Somewhere in my apartment is a cuff bracelet I got from them that has a cat’s face on it and a strange message stitched on the back. Somewhere else is a purse I got that is florescent orange and khaki green; I wore it so many times that the strap broke and I taped it back together with artist’s tape and given the strange color combination, it totally still worked. If my apartment were cleaner/better organized, this would be a better post.
There was just something really genuine about them – genuinely weird and genuinely cool. I don’t normally get all excited about fashion at all, but here was something that wasn’t about trying to be pretty for a boy or trying really hard to be stylish and hip. Thinking in particular of the cuff I have – it’s not a bracelet, it’s an object; it’s a souvenir of a time and a place and of a real life person who made this thing who I don’t know but now have this connection to. That’s amazing. That’s what I want my stuff at the DCF to be.
The only example of a Pluto Cat piece I could find is this pink fuschia hat that the girl in Shonen Knife is wearing in this video. I don’t know 100% that it was by them, but the internet tells me so:
Sigh. Oh Pluto Cat, if you’re out there, I want to buy more of your things. And I want to make you a website so that the world can see your greatness. And I want to spread the word of how amazing you are to all the people of the world, and try and make you millions of dollars. Please get in touch because I really love you and miss you.
It’s probably what you’re wondering. I know… but there’s been a lot of things going on.
But I also thought of this phrase (“where have you been?”) when I recently came across some of Joseph Cornell’s collages from the early 1940s. Somehow, I totally forgot about them. His boxes get so much play and it seems like you see them everywhere… but the collages? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in person. They’re weirder and more fantastic and… weirder than the boxes. Which is probably why I like them so much and why you don’t see them that often.
I have been swamped with a million different things going on, but finally… I finished the boat book!
The real title is Am I worthy? and this is what it looks like when it’s all wrapped up:
From the side, it looks like a big box. From up top, you can see the text on what is actually the “cover”:
The “front cover” and “back cover” meet in the middle, so that’s where you go to open it:
The top opens and unfolds. The sides are held in place with tied strings, but when you untie them, they very easily come off. Here’s a picture of one of the sides that’s come off:
So what you see in this picture is that one of the sails is actually attached to the inside of the side of the box. The light blue ties keep it in place. You untie the sail and set it up on the boat, and then tuck the rest of the side away (it’s not needed until you go to repack the box when you’re done).
The sails pop onto the main part of the boat that is just revealed by removing the sides. It sounds complicated, but they fit together like puzzle pieces – they just pop into place. Very quickly, you have this:
The inside of where the cover was reveals “pages” – simple pop-ups with text which spill off the table and onto the right and left hand sides. The boat itself is filled with text on the sails, and the book is read by starting with the centermost sail (the dark blue) and then working your way around the surrounding ones, and then reading the text that is on the cover.
It’s a bit of a crazy project and very hard to photograph! I hope you can see it at least a bit in these pictures.