Saturday, January 28, 2006

My viscous valentine...

Speaking of performance art, this is one of our favorite modern love stories here at Donkay. Giuseppe Difeo and Lidia Mastracchio are yet another example of artists that you are only going to read about when you tune into 1430. Anyway one day in March 1974 these two made a splash exactly the size of their respective bodies. G writes-

I wouldn’t want the fact that it was my birthday when I woke up to be seen as part of why Lidia and I did what we did that day. But I suppose it must be. I woke up to the telephone. Lidia answered, it was my father, we’d given my family the number of our hotel room when we spoke to them the night before, but of course he had to call again now that the day itself had dawned. I tried to clear my voice and… forget it, as I said, there is no clear origin of my actions there in that morning, so I will spare myself the writing of it. But although the mood of the day was continuous with ealier ones,it had a trajectory as different as a rowboat’s when you push off with an oar against a shallow bottom. You don’t change boats, your body doesn’t feel any different, its only way back in some half-physical part of your brain something the shape of a compass is pointing in a different direction.

After all, it was a driving vacation. On the day that happened to be my birthday we had it planned to go to the new contemporary art museum that Antonio Filhaputoni built on the coast.

Now I ask myself, 'Were Lidia and I artists before we went into that museum?' I think as much, or perhaps a little more (or do we all think this?) than the average overeducated indolent young person who watches art and thinks, 'I could do that.' We were no stranger to museums. We moved through them with our heads leaned together, trading comments, using each work to deepen our understanding of each other. And certainly we felt a sense of art at the close of every day, choosing the right words and actions to wrap it in apt proportion. But what made that day explicit?

I can feel the difference, the feeling that lead us both to take off our clothes there in one of the gallerys, but I can’t explain. If I could I would have written only that sentence.

As it was, we shed our clothes without speaking, and I lay on the floor, my neck propped up against the empty white wall. Lidia got on top of me and for one alarmed moment I thought she was thinking sexually, but she only whispered to me, “I am going to vomit on you. I had this idea years ago.”

The thought that Lidia and I weren’t together 'years ago' was transitory.

She started to close her throat, and soon enough she brought out a gag that shook her whole body. A huge clot of white spit slipped out of her mouth and landed on my hip bone. I figured that the whole gallery was looking at us, but at that moment I swear that all I saw outside of Lidia’s face was blue- it was if we were floating in the middle of a river. She convulsed her throat a few more times and spit up a little bit, and then she got up and started walking in slow arcs in front of me.

By now I saw the gallery and the people watching us, and I thought- Should I stare past them like an actor, or should I engage their looks, as I felt compelled to do, at the risk of looking like an amateur? I had my right hand on my penis, but not covering it, just holding it as one does in bed alone. But I have to admit that I started wondering if we would be arrested, if men from the museum would grab us roughly and take us out and then we’d be subversives on the front page of tomorrow’s paper. I wondered how long we could go to jail for indecent exposure. These were the things influencing my decision whether or not to make living eye contact with people in the gallery as they looked at me. I wanted to, but I was afraid that they would no longer consider me art if looked back at them. Lidia was keeping her eyes mostly to herself as she walked around me. She had a haughty look that brought out the beauty of her jawbone, and I got the basic idea that in this piece she was living and I was dead. This feeling led me to the conclusion that I should look at the people when they looked at me. I was telling them what it was like to be dead, or that I wasn’t dead, or at least not to them, only to myself and to her.

After a while a guard came out of a door beside us. He was shocked, but neither Lidia nor I broke our guises. I looked down to where my left leg was laying, and I saw that there was a thin line of red tape that extended from the doorway. It seemed to be a guide for the placement of art, delineating the full swing of the door so that no art would be knocked over. My foot was just short of the line. The open can of spinach that we had placed at my feet was exactly upon it. Were it a football, it would not have marked a goal, and thus I felt we were saved.

The guard didn’t change the stride that had brought him through the doorway, but as he crossed the room and I could tell he was trying to comprehend our presence. I was left with the feeling that he felt he was in the wrong, that he felt he was supposed to know about us. Maybe it was the recent inception of the museum, that convinced him that two naked artists could suddenly be occupying one corner of the gallery. Some other official people came and looked at us, trying to look casual, but no one disturbed us.

We stayed in it all day. Sometimes Lidia would lay her head on my chest, sometimes she would gag herself, sometimes she would take her thighs on a haughty walk. But I had decided I should never move. This was easy for me. A few people watched us for hours. Most started to regard us as passingly as the other works of art. On the whole I can’t explain the variety of musics that were playing in the eyes of those who met my glance.

At closing Filhaputoni and the curator came down and congratulated us. They had taken our picture, Lidia’s neck tendons strained with the effort of a gag, my eyes above her. They invited us to spend the night in the hotel adjacent to the museum, (that night I dreamt the hotel was full of typists at work throughout the night) and in the morning we left. Ernesto went there in August and said the picture was hanging where I had been lying. But it wasn't there a year later. Maybe they found out we weren’t doing any other art. I don’t know, Lidia and I discussed once what the other had been thinking, found it both similar and different and I don’t think too much about it anymore.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Fear and loaving...

The first time Gary Porter submitted we had to scramble. He sends in those little tapes that go with dictation machines and our academie-issue machine was being used in an Aconcci-type experiment not so easily interuppted. One of us finally had to call our dad and ask him to send out the one we got for our 16th birthday. Anyway Gary is great. He never really made it on the stand up circuit, cheifly because he was at his best alone in the kitchen. It was rare that he could maintain his flow even when unwrapping a tape and putting it into the mini-dic. But that's just the kind of performer that gets made in the academie, or at least DonKay 1430. We also heard he's popular in Denmark. Anyway here's a little bit that highlights the mood of December 2002. In the background you can hear water running.

Shit, I splattered that toilet.
I turned that shit into a crime scene.
Shit, can I get a crime scene up in here?
Can I get some yellow tape?
code whatevah!
That's what I got.

Got some dishes to do too.
But that was a crime scene.
That was code baDOW.
That was code Too-Late.
Guess that's why it's a crime scene.
Let me hollah.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I want my M...

This from Jill Fraducci. It seems to capture a lot of the unease around reality television that was running riot at the end of the century. This is a transcript from a video tape that she sent to the academy in a shoebox wrapped in duct tape. We’ve edited it into print. It seems like Jill locked herself in the bathroom and filmed this ‘confessional’ herself, calling it “my way of taking control of this whole process.” The single shot is quite artfull, a slow zoom in on her own face in the mirror that remains tight (though shaking) throughout. But as is so often the case with bathroom confessionals, this is Jill’s one and only entry in to donkay. We always encourage further submission.

Ok people, this is getting a little obvious. I moved into this place a month ago, and I thought, ok new apartment, 7 strangers, but it should be cool. But by now all the signs of a hidden reality TV show are really not that freaking hard to see, alright?

I’m fine with the drama and trauma of the roommates. Its normal that there be some disagreements. And its obvious that when we have house meetings its going to be in the living room, and everybody is going to sit in a circle, even though the real reason behind it is probably so you can alternate shots of our faces. So you can’t blame me if I am a little suspicious of the fact that Sara’s friend who comes to stay here just happens to be some hunky blond who starts immediately expressing a very strong interest in me even though he doesn’t even know me. I guess I just find the whole thing a little contrived, but, you know, I can take it in stride, and I am sure our late night conversations around the pool table gave you guys some really great material.

You are probably going to peg me as the freak girl, who freaks out, and whatever. But I am so not overreacting to this. I am even fine with the funky layout of the house. It’s ok that in one of the rooms there is a futon bolted to the wall that opens up and reveals some kind of trap door that you have to crawl into and leads to some tunnels that eventually come out in the rare books library of the nearby university. I mean, I realize this is an old city, and the people there were nice when I came upon them, but they were a little camera-shy don’t you think? That whole segment didn’t quite work, right? Might not even make it into the show. I mean, was I supposed to do something there, like ask for a job?

So really, I am fine. But I think you guys can lay off the psychodelia, the weird semi-real semi cartoon shit. Oh god, it still makes me sick. I mean, in one way, you know, this is all really interesting to me as a concept, but I don’t need to deal with it was part of my life. I mean, I don’t know what bleeping channel this show is on, but when I am coming home in the dawn after a long night comforting one of my best friends after she lost her job, and I am driving home beside the lakeside park in the middle of the city and suddenly out the window I see the biggest bird I have ever seen in my life counting camping- then you people need to check your heads.

I’m sure it made for great TV that I had to pull over and stare at this thing as it lumbered through the air. Do you people employ Jim Henson’s muppet team or something? Because the shit I saw was grotesque. I mean, let me just see if I got this right. That bird was supposed to be a vulture clutching a baby pigeon in its mouth and the baby’s parents weren’t just flying over that vulture, pecking at its head as I have seen sparrows do to crows in the country, but actually riding the back of the vulture and hammering at its head like woody woodpecker, causing the vulture to fall dead and huge into the middle of the road.

(gag-type moan)

Then you guys somehow knew that this whole scene would freak me out enough that I would go running into the park and spend the early dawn clutching myself on a park bench until people started arriving at the dog run. And then you sent out that dog, that grotesque thing! I wanted to kick it, smash its body in, just to show it wasn’t real. The face, sure you did a good job on the face, but the body, oh, it still makes me disgusted to think about. What was it made of, a cardboard box with nasty fake fur glued on? Oh god. And then its owners were cast as this great couple, an Asian doctor and his wife, him so handsome and professional in his black wool coat, giving me his card, telling me I should call him. What’s that, another house field trip we’re going to make? Is the episode going to be called “In-house therapy” or some dumb thing?

And then I get home, a total wreck, and everyone’s on the couch acting normal. Scotts there eating chips and everyone, ironically, is watching TV. I ask Manny why he didn’t pick up when I called his cellphone from the park. He said, oh, that was you? Why did you call so early? And I just got so pissed that I stormed upstairs. I guess really, I just want to say- Show yourselves! I re-read the lease. And I definately did not sign up for this.

Quick autobio in pinkish ink...

This torn from a notebook, sent in to DonKay 1970. Class notes are on the reverse page, and we resisted the desire to treat them as the submission. Indeed, one suspects these notes mirror the lecture with the same fealty that the following passage does the life of its author, Dawn Sasion. This, of course, is DonKay.

But it always seems to mean something extra when the whole page isn’t neatly removed from the notebook before being mailed into the archives here at Donkay and rather a tear has been made across the middle of the page, as if the paper must end where the writing does or else the narrative might continue of its own will. So we hope Dawn won’t mind the editorial ellipsis we’ve placed at the end as a stand in for this passionate rip, and perhaps more fundamentally, that she doesn't resent that we’ve extended the natural ellipsis of time by posting this so long after she was impelled to quill it among study notes. Anyway, it seems like everything turned out ok. She still sends us her clippings after all.

Somehow the root of their attraction lay in the vision that awaited her each day as she approached the library. To arrive there from her downtown apartment she had to walk along the city’s principal thoroughfare. That summer it was under interminable construction, and the impatient motorists with their honking and greedy thrusts were enough to distract her constantly as she walked.

Perhaps this was why the sudden vista of the library always left her breathless. Turning off of the avenue and onto the green seemed to mask all the rude sounds of the city. The sidewalks were populated exclusively by students, hurrying girls and puffy-chested boys. But D.'s vision was always elevated at this moment, rising over the walkers who seemed stuck in the same silence as the invisible traffic, tiny in the shadow of the library.

The building itself was nothing extraordinary. It was of recent construction in grey concrete. But its architect had instilled it with a symmetry no less pleasing that the more classical buildings of the campus, and as she approached it she appreciated the way her changing perspective rearranged the lines of its windows and furrows.

She’d breath deeply through her nostrils as she passed under the arch and climbed up the steps. But surely it wasn’t only the anticipation of another day slowly amassing materials for her thesis that animated her so. Might it not be the extra-academic spark between herself and Martina, her advisor, the way the timbre of the elder's voice seemed just like the soft yellow of aged documents, her gaze on me as steady and as pleased as if reading a text. Fingers moving the pages of books seemed to communicate…