Saturday, January 22, 2011
Death by Installation
I finally started my installation. You know, the one I've been writing about since the birth of blogging, where I cut up the Koran and create the book of Revelation on the walls of a gallery. Holy crap, what was I thinking? And why didn't you talk me out of it?? This is hands down the most boneheaded project I've ever taken on. It's incredibly demanding, both mentally and physically. See that photo above? That's after I'd finally found a comfortable position!
Yeah, see, I'm cutting up the Koran letter by stinking letter, and then gluing the letters to the gallery wall to create the book of Revelation. Why am I doing this? Because I'm a nutter. Like Saint John, I've got a few screws loose. I seem to recall a vague reason for wanting to do this installation. I thought it would be way cool to bring Islam and Christianity together and look at their similarities, embrace their differences, and sing a few apocalyptic rounds of kumbaya. I must have been smoking some really good stuff when I came up with that idea. Muslims and Christians have been duking it out for over a thousand years; it's sorta become sport for them to antagonize each other. They don't need me to orchestrate an interfaith hugfest. Did I really think this installation would shine a light into that dark corner of humanity?
The truth is, no. I didn't think that. I'm all about the visual experience; the concept is secondary. I like to bring disparate religions together and watch them resonate and clash. It's fascinating to me that some people are so invested in their version of God that they're willing to off anyone who doesn't concur. This gives me the impetus to do my creative work. I wouldn't get nearly as excited if I was cutting up, say, a Harry Potter novel to create a Danielle Steel romance. Nor would you find me hanging upside down from a ladder to glue John Grisham to the wall. The subject matter - sacred texts of all persuasions - is simply the fuel that keeps me interested in doing the work, which is, after all, incredibly tedious. And monotonous. And...oh, never mind. Far be it from me to complain.
But never did I anticipate the agony of this project. Thus far I've spent 13 hours on it, and I've done but 2 chapters. Forget about February; I'll be lucky if I finish this by the Second Coming. Thankfully, there's only one wall on which I have to apply the letters close to and on the ceiling, due to the architecture of the gallery. As you can see, there are a couple of nasty pipes right smack in the way, which provided me with the inspiration to spew a string of profanities so long and loud that I scared myself. And the landlord, apparently, because he came down from on high and introduced himself (Steve) and politely asked if everything was okay. He was probably wondering why a chick with Tourette's Syndrome was hanging out in his basement.
While I was sticking letters to the ceiling (a passage of only about 36", praise be to Allah), I thought of Michelangelo, and what he must have suffered when he painted the Sistine ceiling. But he had three things that I don't have:
1) a patron*
Not to mention a twelve inch neck. If I ever do this again--and I do have a few more installations that I'd love to do--it will be accompanied by a fat stipend and a host of adoring interns. See, the really great thing about doing my text work as an installation is that you can walk into it and experience it as an environment, which adds another dimension to the work. I'm trying to create a sacred space by making a large circle with the type--it goes across the ceiling, around fixtures, across the floor--in a continuous line of type. All 22 chapters of Revelation are strung together in one line, without spaces or punctuation, and the line runs around the gallery as many times as it takes to finish the book (by my calculations, five times). That's five times that I'm going to have to go across that 36" stretch of ceiling. Steve and I are going to get to know each other pretty well by the end of this.
Well, I'd better wash up and get on over to the gallery. I have two solid days of torture ahead. When all of this is behind me, I'm going to buy a 58" Plasma TV, a comfortable couch, and I'm never going to open the book of Revelation again for as long as I live.
* the filthy rich Pope Julius II