15 June 2007

Me Talk Pretty One Day



I certainly hope you've noticed a pattern by now. This is the third installment of 'art stuff in books not really about art', and today it'll be from David Sedaris, around page 51. This quote is drawn from the chapter Twelve Moments in the Life of the Artist, and this moment is number Nine in which David has become a performance-conceptual-happenings artist.

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Watching the performances of my former colleagues, I got the idea that once you assembled the requisite props, the piece would more or less come together on its own. The inflatable shark naturally led to the puddle of heavy cream, which if lapped from the floor with slow steady precision, could account for up to twenty minutes of valuable stage time. All you had to do was maintain a shell-shocked expression and handle a variety of contradictory objects. It was the artist's duty to find the appropriate objects, and the audience's job to decipher meaning. If the piece failed to work, it was their fault, not yours.

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It's Mary Ann again with a bit of summary: he goes to a thrift store for 'appropriate objects' and chooses a pile of sock monkeys. He tells the check out lady that he's an artist and she says her daughter is an artist too.

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I looked into this woman's face, her fuzzy jowls hanging like saddlebags, and I pictured her reclining nude in a shallow pool of peanut oil. Were she smart enough to let me, I could use her as my living prop. I could be the best thing that ever happened to her, but sadly, she was probably too ignorant to appreciate it. Maybe one day I'd do a full length piece on the topic of stupidity, but in the meantime, I'd just pay for the sock monkeys, snort a few lines of speed, and finish constructing a bulletproof vest out of used flashlight batteries.

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The whole chapter is like that--full of descriptions of his crazy projects and his self-important description of them. Oh yes, he took his art very seriously. I've been wondering if he made it all up or if he really did this stuff. If I ever get to meet him, I think I'll ask.

4 comments:

suzanne said...

i'm actually reading this book right now...and that was the last chapter i read. i had the same thought, if he really did all of the stuff he talks about....and i bet he did. maybe with a bit of embellishment here and there...

grandpa dan said...

Interesting, but I still enjoy looking at your old family photos more and I am still waiting for the "best" that you were promising and for Suzanne's behind the photo explanation.

Mary Ann said...

Suz, I'm so glad you're reading it. So very funny. I tried to describe the part with the "two morsels of wood" to mom and dad but I don't think I did it justice.

Terra said...

I love that book and have read his follow up as well. It wasn't as hillarious but still enjoyable.