I saw visual art that is the equivalent of what I want to be as a theater artist and writer, so I thought I should tell you about it.

Nicky (BFF!!) visited me this weekend to commemorate our 10th anniversary. We went to SF MoMA, and were blown away by the exhibit of the 2004 SECA (Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art–does this name make anyone else giggle?) Award winners.

I’ve long been a believer that we are not in a period of postmodernism, but are, or should be, working towards something I think of as Reconstructionism. Meaning–we’ve taken everything we can apart. We know everything must be considered within the constructs of its cultural context. It’s difficult to speak, when all your given circumstances and varied languages of expression can so easily be deconstructed. “Hence the irony,” as Todd Polenberg wrote in his version of the Passover haggadah, the pomo replacement for “Amen.”

Deconstructionism has provided us tools by which to read and attempt to understand the world. Unfortunately, the impulse to take it all apart can lead to art that is hesitant, self-reflexive, insular and paralyzed.

The SECA winners (Simon Evans, Shaun O’Dell, Rosana Castrillo Díaz and Josephine Taylor) are over it.

Each artists spoke art with a distinct voice: Evans–neurotically categorizing the world in cramped words and images that skated along the borders of sense and nonsense; O’Dell–creating vivid, abstract dreamscapes with graphically intricate, precisely inked symbols and signs; Taylor–confronting the unspeakable that bubbles under the surface of families and childhood, painting through the supernaturalistic to reach the grotesque on flat swaths of butcher paper; and Díaz–whispering out a 30-foot sculpture put together entirely with circles of scotch tape–part spider’s web, part single-cellular organism, part ghost.

Such distinct, clearly different voices. But all their voices rang with a tremendous confidence and honesty–I saw absolutely zero hesitancy or reserve in any of the work. Very exciting.

2 responses to “art

  1. Hence The Irony is now an optional part of the seder, since it seemed clear to me that using irony as one’s only way of perceiving the world leads to a general feeling of disconnection and sorrow. (I did not go on to write a book about fishing.) This is expressed by putting Hence The Irony in parenthesis, the same way that (God) is in parenthesis — if you still want to say it, more power to you. Twin C still does, for example. ps — yo! whassup!

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