Leaving Harvard square, we saw three people in a car lean out all three different windows at once to energetically flip off the car behind them. The car behind them stopped and the driver got out. “Shit shit shit,” said Ariana, the Advocate’s Art Editor. “They’re gonna fight.” The guy stomped up to the driver’s window of the car in front of him and affectionately embraced the driver through his window. Our uber driver whistled. “I thought he was going to deck him,” he said. A minute passed. “Do you even like Takashi Murakami?” my friend Sam, art board member, asked quietly. I thought about it. “No.” “Me either.” But there we were, suddenly at the MFA. There were a lot of bright lights, and a lot of people smoking out front where signs said you weren’t supposed to smoke. We trekked on over two lawns, a parking lot, and the ramp for trucks with large deliveries to get to the press entrance.
Fears are supposed to work this way: you are afraid of something and then you do it. You do it enough times to become accustomed to it and then it is banal. "You can normalize," says LCD Soundsystem in the song "Get Innocuous." He goes on: "Don't it make you feel alive?" The reality is that normalizing makes me feel dead. Everything and anything can be decathected. The world around us triggers emotions and these make our heart race and then we feel ourselves living. Acclimation neutralizes everything into the same tone of grey. For me planes are moving in the opposite direction of normalization. I've been flying since before I could make permanent memories: as a kid planes were a place for Gameboy Advance and those beverage carts specially designed to fit through the aisles. I would always get apple juice and cranberry juice mixed together.
My family had a room that was referred to exclusively as the Den. It was notable for three reasons. It contained the only couch we owned that it was o.k. to spill fluids on (it was purple leather but already scarred white from the scraping of sixty different hangnails, plus the more trimmed twenty of our parents). That couch was in that same place prior to my conception and has not moved in twenty-one years. Imagine standing still this whole time.There was also, depending on exactly when we are talking about, any given one of the three different televisions of those two decades. I would say each one lasted almost exactly seven years, but the one in the middle (a large silver cube with a perfectly square button) is to this day the only one I knew how to operate. There were also the two masks my parents brought back from Papua New-Guinea.
When you talk about tarot the first thing anyone asks is whether you believe in it. By "it" they mean the alleged proclivity of the deck to arrange itself in such an order as to portray what’s coming for us. Or moreover, if I’m the one shuffling, the ability of my own fingers to fumble in just the right way to land the cards in the prescient order.We, the educated, know it’s just pseudoscience, right? If you want the cards to say, “Hey so, next Tuesday the 11th, you’re going to suffer a brain aneurism. Sorry about that,” then you’ll likely be disappointed. In 2013 a study demonstrated that the less one feels control over her life, the more likely she is to believe in precognition. You say you believe in this stuff and people either think you’re stupid or playing at personal mystique.On the farm my friend and I used to sit in an old trailer and read each other’s tarot late into the night.
I like to apply metaphors of digestion to reading: indigestion, malnutrition, excretion, rumination. Word salad goes down like real salad. When we were kids most of us wanted to be the carnivorous animals that stalked our prey, sprinted in for the kill, ripped limb from limb and swallowed whole. Russian has a single adverb that encompasses the notion of consuming something's entirety with a single gulp. Satisfaction is implied. This is how I wanted to read: to salivate, devour, and then laze around not thinking about my stomach until the next gazelle turned up. Yet as much as I eye ungulates, I'm really just a large hunk of cow flesh chewing on the grass. The grass where I am always tastes like shit but the foliage over there looks damn fine. I move over there. It's not. I need six hours a day to pick up a measly twenty-four pounds of grass.
For my upcoming show, I have created a piece just for you. It is intimate and personal. When you come to the wing of the museum where I have installed my work, you sheepishly pick up a program and hurry in. There is no one else here. They know this show is for you, and will be kind enough to leave you alone with it. You pass into a great marble atrium. It is cool and grey and smells like wet rocks. Everyone you have ever known is facing you. They are not moving or even breathing, but they are looking at you. Your high school english teacher is looking at you kindly. Your sixth grade crush is looking at you kindly. The kid you babysat a couple times when you needed pocket money in college is looking at you kindly. You duck behind a black curtain into a tiny dark room where a film plays. In the film, your first love is speaking, looking you right in the eye.