Big and red


Dear Taus & Natalia,

I’m writing to you on my knees in front of the heater in the front room of the warehouse where looking around for the first time since coming back from Baku I suddenly realise everything’s all over the place again. Flowers are in a teapot, the teapot is on a bookshelf, books are on the chair, my favourite necklace is hanging off a nail in the wall, Nivea is under the table, mirror’s on the floor, my belt is under the couch, my socks are on the table and I’m on the floor. This is life in a warehouse in winter time. I promised I’d be here and write something today but it’s been too cold to make sense out of anything let alone my thoughts or more pertinently yours. “It’s like the Arctic out there!” Michael says panting, again, he says this whenever he returns from a trip to the fridge, the toilet, the bedroom, from ‘outside’. Dressed head to toe he even has his shoes on ‘inside’ our front room and lately he’s permanently wrapped in this big red blanket which seems to work for him. For me, on the other hand, this cold has completely interrupted my functioning for the past few days. I’m suddenly thinking, maybe I need something big and red too?

I’m teasing of course. But I have nowhere to go after THAT performance we saw in Baku, by that American performance artist, you know the one with a giant inflatable globe, craft paper hearts and ‘Heal the World’/‘All You Need is Love’ soundtrack. What happened? How did it happen? Will it happen again? I feel like a need another degree in say performing arts, sociology and psychology to even begin to unpack what happened there in front of my disbelieving eyes? My degree in Fine Art is not going to do it. I tired. For a start as far as I can tell it was not referencing anything in the history of performance art which it was purporting to be. She said sitting beside me at lunch earlier that day “I’m a performance artist”. But her performance was not referring to anything I know of performance art; not Dada performances or Fluxus ones, or anything bodily from say 70s or abject from say the 80s or sensational say from the 90s nor was it anything contemporary or anything political or critical. It wasn’t ‘good’ and it wasn’t knowingly ‘bad’. And it was the first time in my own experience that I witnessed a gallery context work against an artwork to completely ostracise it from itself and the realm of fine art at large. What do you think? Was it simply and irredeemably bad? Intellectually, emotionally and aesthetically bad? Three strikes and it’s out. I’m staking an earlobe on this, it wasn’t her intention, but, that performance artist has left me struggling with the basics, good and bad art. So here I am, not able to go into your skype conversation. Instead I’m thinking about performance art specifically and art in general all over again, as if for the first time. I mean “If you can’t make it good, make it big and red…”? So here I am, cold and my knees hurt.