Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Greetings from Patmos
I made it. It was a long, exhausting journey, but I'm resting in my cave, preparing to work on my new text drawing. I thought it made sense to work on it at the scene of the crime. Nah, just kidding - I'm still lodged in my cave in boring old Bushwick. Really loving my new text - the Book of Revelation Unplugged - which I'm slicing from the Koran. And I just learned something interesting from my dad, which all of you probably knew: St. John, who described his visions in the Book of Revelation? He's the same John who wrote the fourth gospel. John the Evangelist. Who knew? Not I, clearly. I feel a little sheepish - I mean, I went to weekly Bible studies for how many years? All through my twenties? And I didn't make that connection? Makes me wonder what else I missed. What?? Mary was a virgin?
So I've decided to make this text look psychedelic. I want to try to capture what St. John must have felt as he saw the visions unfold: exquisite beauty, sheer terror, fascination, disgust - all of it. A tall order to recreate his reverie on paper, but it'll be fun to give it a shot. I want to see if it's possible to make a piece that's both disturbing and transcendent.
I originally wanted to do this piece as an installation. I sent a well-crafted proposal to a gallery in Dumbo, and it went something like this: the text started at the entrance to the gallery, pasted directly onto the wall at eye level, a single line of type wrapping around the walls of the gallery from left to right so that it could be read properly. I proposed to transcribe the entire Book in this way, without punctuation or spaces, wrapping around the walls as many times as needed until I'd completed the entire Book of Revelation. I did the math, and figured out that if I worked eight hours a day, it would take me about two months to complete, but if I worked 24/7, I could do it in forty days and forty nights. I should've just left it at that, but I had to go and take it a step further. I proposed that I would fast and meditate while I installed the piece, so as to endure some of the hardships that challenged St. John as he transcribed his visions. I also proposed to take a vow of silence, which would last for the duration of the installation. Lastly, I would have an unobtrusive cot in the corner of the gallery where I would doze when necessary, and on which they could gently revive me, should I pass out. And I'd need my own key to the loo.
They politely declined my proposal. It would seem that they weren't too keen on a silent, skeletal artist moping about the gallery day and night, half crazed with hunger and faint from sleep deprivation. Plus they'd have had to close the gallery for over a month while I installed the piece. For the life of me I can't figure out why they turned me down. It must have had something to do with the key to the loo. Yeah, that's it. But it's just as well, as it would've surely taxed my sanity, which is already running on fumes, and I'm now free do it in the comfort of my own padded cell.