Monday, August 3, 2015

Dirty Pictures I.*

 Dirty Pictures I. *(a love letter to charcoal and Clemente)

When I was 16, I saw “Great Expectations” and it rocked my world. Gwyneth was cold, beautiful and broken (pre-goop). Ethan was stand-up, sit-down, broken (probably because he resonated with what I saw every day in high school).

I later read the book. Was pissed it didn't have pictures. I thought _Great Expectations_ was all about the pictures.

Please play this song/video. Ignore the ad. It summarizes the film to the tune of Tori Amos' "Siren" (from its soundtrack). Pay attention to what Hawke/Clemente makes. Then, listen, as you read the rest of this. Zoom in on His art. This music was my soundtrack for seeing his work for the first time.

Francesco Clemente’s portraiture was life crashing. I watched that movie a million times, pausing until I made the tape loopy.

And then I found him, 17 years later (older than I was when I first saw his drawings) in tents, as Mass MoCA. His:

And I walked through them, and saw his face, behind a pole His: 

The face that changed how I wrote my own. His:

Clemente’s work followed me through art school the way a Kerouac, unfortunately, follows many young writers through their first creative writing classes. (Clemente is still better than Kerouac any day of the week). 

But, look, it’s embarrassing, Hers:

Then I brushed my hair out of my eyes and took things and went off in my own direction. Hers:

And then I left art school (some day I’ll explain where I am, and what I do). Hers:

Clemente's images hid in my sand like 1998 De Niro, stuck on me like mud. His: 

I still look for him. I see him in the full lips of Adorno’s hope, the deep sockets of Horkheimer’s hip bones. Hers: 

I saw it at my first conference, full of utopian thinkers, in the full, warm lines of Hardt asking over a buffet in a Carolina (“what do you think of Lonely Planet?”), or at the same event, Jameson asking if I knew where the water was. Hers:

It was the first time I saw colleagues getting wasted, falling out of their chairs, flopping like fish in their own sand (real sand. the gross kind that stains a cheap suit). The questions over drinking and smoking in so many different fishy forms. Hers:

Clemente's work is much more political and tied to issues of homelandery and imperialism than I ever knew when he first got stuck in my eyes. I wish I knew more at the time. I still get chills when I see lines he's made around bodies. Again I'm 16 falling into those pictures, 26 falling into the sand with those other writers.

The answer is always “it’s complicated, and are you coming to my paper tomorrow?” Hers:


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