I showed this sculpture at The Headlands show curated by John Jota Leaños in January of this year. Here is a little bit about how I work. I have things around me that work their way into my performances: the skateboard for example, and the disco ball on a stick. I wanted to bring them together, to see how they would play with each other, so to speak. Well, it turns out, they get along quite well. I see them as suggesting a sculpture based on things that are real to me and my work as a performance artist. These are the things I use. Why shouldn’t they be combined and presented as an object in themselves, in this case a kind of meta-object that happens when you put a number of very different things together. I always thought that this was the formula for the best still lives: just look around your apartment and stop- then paint that. I guess then, this work functions as a kind of still life, and also as a meta-portrait. There is something more though too. It comes apart, if I want to use the objects, then I can just put it back together. It’s modular. Perhaps thinking and writing about this will bring the words forward a little later…
This cake came about on my first meeting with the Los Angeles gallerist, Charlie James. I had made a trip to Los Angeles, and was to stop in and meet Charlie at his gallery in Chinatown. I walked in to his empty gallery, and he must have noticed my presence. From behind a wall I heard a ‘hello’, then Charlie came out to greet me, and as he did, the first thing he said was, “Michael Jackson died today”. I couldn’t think of anything else to do in the moment, so I shook his hand. After giving me more of the day’s tragic news, we talked a little bit, and I showed him some View Masters and reels of performances. I said my goodbyes, then went to have lunch at a nearby cakeshop / lunch counter. Seeing a woman decorating cakes, I decided to have this one made for Charlie, as a sort of commemoration of our meeting.
The History of Mexico
This is a cactus pad, that had fallen off of the larger plant. It was down in Oaxaca, Mexico, where I was doing some teaching. I got the idea that these pads could be like books- what would a library of them look like- and so I carved this title of an imaginary book, and left the letters on a plate. In Mexico, these cactus pads, called nopales are eaten. I have heard that this cactus has been planted, and that it has grown quite large. After a couple of years, I ran into the boyfriend of the Venezuelan owner of the hacienda. “I think about you every day!”, he said, curiously, and then told me how they moved this cactus inside their home, and how well it is growing there. I have asked them a few times for a picture of what it looks like now, but they haven’t had the time to send me one. That’s the history of Mexico.
Initially, I had the idea that I would perform a magic trick: Cortezuma would levitate. I wanted to do this with balloons, because of the simple magic of it all, and also how beautiful it would look to see all of these helium balloons. Finding out just how much helium it would take, I next settled on the idea of levitating his costume off his body, but even that was too much. Finally, I made a special replica of Cortezuma’s outfit in very light material. Even that was too much weight. I even made a copy of Cortezuma’s “Corona Extra” shoes out of paper maché.
What I ended up with though, was this jacket balloon sculpture that would lift mostly- but never completely- off the ground, as long as the helium held up. Eventually, it would just sink back down, face first. At my MFA exhibition, I performed a group event using lots of balloons to float a boat made of old drawings. As it wasn’t going aloft, people began tearing the balloons off of this sculpture, which was nearby. I’ve since done some research on the Apollonian versus Dionysian in art. One being the cold, perfect marble sculpture, the other the object to be celebrated and sacrificed.