Saturday, January 20, 2007

don't look

Last night, I went with Ben and Joe up to the Whitney to see the Terence Koh exhibit. The train was running painfully slow at points on the way there. It started to snow lightly once we got off the train to walk there. I drank from a cup of coffee that tasted so right, a warm hug for my insides. We waited in line to get in, paid the change from our pockets, put our little stickers on, and went in. I was so excited to see the Koh exhibit and rushed up to the room where it is, a bright white light set up inside the room, projected out into the lobby, and the guard, wearing wraparound sunglasses, stopped me, stopped my joy, telling me to stand behind the line. I realized that this was it, that you couldn't even go into the room, that it was just a bright light in the middle of a room you couldn't go into, shining out into your face, a painfully bright white light that you couldn't even look at without probably causing serious damage to your eyes. Joe was really disappointed, and either him or Ben said something like, "This is it? Are you fucking kidding me?" And then I started to get it a bit more and laughed, really enjoying this piece, that in some ways the piece is a big Fuck You to people excited to see this show.

The museum's statement about the work refers to it along the lines of (the exact phrase I cannot remember) an inaccessible diorama. And it is. The entire thing is such a tease. There are all these expectations for Koh, a young, perhaps too quickly rising art star, with his Whitney show, and he essentially says, "Look away. I am too bright a thing for your eyes to handle." I think the afterimage is still burned on my eyes today. I looked, tried to. And that's what I thought of it yesterday, a brat flicking off everyone excited about his show and all the old ladies walking through the lobby on their way to the Kiki Smith show or the Picasso and Americans show. When I was leaving the museum, I had to wait in the lobby forever for everyone else to be ready to go, and it was amazing to watch all these people coming out of the elevator and shielding their eyes from this show. I particularly enjoyed, asshole that I am, when old men and ladies, white haired ones, dramatically shielded the sides of their heads from this bright light, too bright, all up in their face.

I went to bed last night thinking about this piece and teasing out other possible readings of it, it seeming more and more brilliant the more I thought about this work. That the line that you cannot cross is so far back from the room, a good ten feet or so, seems meaningful, the point of inaccessibility being hammered more and more. It's a white room, glowing with light, and not only are you not allowed to go in it, you are not even allowed to get too close to the thing. And you cannot even see the thing. You can never actually look too closely, so blinded by the light are you, meaning that perhaps we never fully see things, particularly art objects, so blinded are we by the light, the critical praise, the name we have heard before, or even its being shown in a museum setting privileging it - case in point, people thinking Kiki Smith is good, or even possibly Terence Koh. There is that reading.

As I was falling more and more asleep, a more positive aspect of the thing came to light (har har), which is that art should illuminate the things outside that art. It shouldn't be an insular thing, a language onto itself, but that it should make clearer and more beautiful the things outside of that painting, outside of that sculpture, that the grace present in that particular Pollack painting that you like, that spirit, that that is to be found everywhere, and this painting should be a reminder of that grace's existence and a string on the end of your pinkie telling you to look for it elsewhere. And the thing illuminated here with Koh's work is not any work, any object of his, aside from maybe the white room the light is placed in, but rather the lobby that the light is projected into, the viewers that that light is blinding, showcasing, exhibiting.

I departed from the group I was with, tired of groups and wanting to see Doug Aitken's work at MoMA. It was nice, though the walk there and back by myself was nicer.

On the train ride home, there was this boy who was so incredibly beautiful, slightly stocky, brown curly hair, and brown eyes that seemed to hold some promise of tenderness, a soft touch in bed. He was with his girlfriend and they kept staring at each other with such kindness, and I was terribly jealous and lonely feeling, wanting to be that girl, wanting that boy's eyes to look at me that way. Enter into this picture, Arthur, a boy who I saw a few times a few months ago and whose calls I stopped answering. It was so nice to see him in this moment. I got up from my seat to talk to him and I looked into his eyes, slightly wanting to see a warm look from his, wanting to see that other boy's glow. And, of course, it wasn't there. They were eyes that didn't seem to particularly want to talk to me. I was trying to shine a warm light, a tenderness, and I don't think that the light was too bright - that is not why he wouldn't look into it - but, rather, I think that he didn't care for this light, lost interest in it a while ago. I went to bed soon after getting home, tired as hell. Alone in my bed, I rubbed my penis against my sheets, getting lost in sleep, in erotic fantasies, wishing I was not alone in my bed.

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