Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Geneve Journal: 2 forks, 20 years, and 3 days

I was treated to a blast from the past this past weekend.  Mathias Aubert is a musician, composer and video artist/filmmaker from Geneva.  Mathias is the brother of Magali Aubert, editor and publisher of the Paris art/culture/fashion magazine Standard.   Magali stayed with my parents as an exchange student for a Summer which is what got that whole Geneva thing rolling.   I, in turn, stayed with the Aubert family in France the following Summer. Catching up with him in NY is auspicious given my plans for a working trip to Geneva later this year (for which I'm just now launching a kickstarter campaign.)  I last saw Mathias 20 years ago when he was a 15 year old music student, admirably committed to his violin and his practice schedule.   That Summer, he and I attended the Paleo Festival in Nyon, Switzerland with the single aim of seeing Jethro Tull which was one of the headlining bands.  I was a huge Tull fan at the time - a fact that feels slightly embarrassing for some reason...  I still enjoy a lot the older Tull music and the experience of the concert was pretty great - even euphoric for me....maybe that there is the source of the embarrassment.  
We were standing down front, center stage, no more than two bodies back from the stage.  I spent most of the show, sketchbook open, pen in hand, making gestural stick figure studies of Ian Anderson's onstage antics.  The people around us would occasionally lean their heads in to check out the progress of my scribbles.  I have a memory of one Euro-dude telling me to throw my sketchbook on stage, and I had the worry that if I didn't, he might.  I just held on to the book a little tighter.

So Mathias and I met up several times over the past week and compared notes on the progress of our lives.   We attended the Ghosts in the Machine exhibit at the New Museum, where I had two sightings:  The first was Jerry Saltz taking a picture of a couple of tourists out in front of the museum, and the second, Jodie Foster making her way through the 2nd floor galleries.  The exhibit is a sprawling presentation of artist's responses, over the past century +,  to the mechanized march of technology.  A bit dry at times, I ultimately found it a fascinating show, and one to which I'm grateful because it taught me who Rube Goldberg actually was.  In all the years I had heard his name, and references to his overly complicated mechanisms to easy solutions, I never knew anything about who the man was or where or how his machines came to be.  That he was an illustrator for 50+ years and his contraptions lived in the ink and paper of his comic strip was a revelation.  I feel just a little more whole for knowing this now.

Mathias came up to Beacon on the weekend and we spent four hours on Saturday at Dia.  I had a blast getting his particular musically based perspective on contemporary art.   Incidentally, he's the first person I have met who had heard of Jean Luc Moulene prior to actually seeing his work on view at the museum currently.

Walking home from Dia, Mathias found a flattened fork on the street.   Later, flipping through a sketchbook full of drawings I made while staying with Mathias' family in France, we came upon a french cousin of the fork he found earlier.  The flattened nature of the Beacon fork lent an appearance of extension to its tines that matched the sketch.  

The sketch was made on July 19, 1992 - 20 years and 3 days from the discovery of the Beacon fork.  The image above shows the kin united on the page.  I don't remember the details of where and what meal of that french fork, but I have a memory of holding it, heavy, in my hand.  I can feel the balance of it, the exaggerated tine-length.  The memory is meaty.  Felt.  Sitting here on the train, I can nearly feel the pressure of the phantom fork in my palm, even though that palm is facing down, fingers open on this keyboard.   But given the elasticity and impressionability of our memories, I wonder if they're not truly felt fabrications of this current moment.   I guess I've read this; that, as we access the files of our memory, they replay, not as recordings of an incident, but as if completely fresh embodiments of experience and as they do so they are corrupted and overwritten slightly with each play, altering not only how we read them, but how they exist in the present, each time further removed from the moment of first record.

I'm realizing with this post that the 20 years ago trope is getting tiresome.  I think I've sufficiently established the span of time which frames this track of reflection, so I'll work on referencing it far less explicitly so less often.

In any case, the kickstarter campaign had just gone live and will be running until Aug 22.  The gist is that I'm raising funds to help subsidize this working trip to Geneva which I'm planning in the fall.  I'm looking at it as a self engineered residency in which I'll explore anew a place I knew long ago.   I'll post more details here shortly, but details can be found on my kickstarter page.

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