Dear James and James —
Have I been MIA? Where have I been and what have I seen, and is it really worthy talking about?
When I tell people about all my travels the refrain is invariably, “Oh, you lead such an exciting life!” But globalization, as far as I’m concerned, simply means longer commutes to work, sprinkled with maladies from recycled air that of course have to blossom when I am on “a vacation” with, yes, my new lover. However, our destination is where he also happens to be working. We barely see each other except between the sheets.
Since we last spoke I went from LA to Paris. A week later I spent three days in NYC, then thirty-three hours in Miami. The next flight took me to a Leonard Cohen dream of sailors and mermaids on Ibiza, which meant a stop in Madrid, where I fought over shampoo allowance, refreshed and redressed my clothes in a handicapped toilet; I didn’t want my lover to see the reality of what it meant to journey to him.
Still pretending, I ignored incipient tonsillitis while bathing in the crisp sun and crystal-blue sea, till it became critical to hand myself over to the embrace of the NHS in London after the worst Eurostar ride of my life. Seriously, you could see my glands projecting four inches beyond then normal size of my skinny throat. Like Grace Jones, I was literally choking on my own saliva.
After a night in the hospital, many horse-like antibiotics later and the resulting taste of metal in my mouth, I found myself in a quiet garden in Basel. This exquisitely organized house — so Swiss it’s Suisse — was so beautiful it made me fantasize about becoming a leisurely housewife. I just wanted to tend to the plethora of salads growing in the kitchen garden and make babies. But I am here for the fairs and exhibitions and the only babies I intend to parade for the coos and ahhs of admirers are art with a capital A.
Per usual, there are thousands of art pieces to survey and important people to meet. This is not a vacation. The fair is an overwhelmingly gay affair. An A-Gay fanfare, to be precise.
After a long day of methodically touring the gallery cubicles, everyone gathers for the nightly feast at the Kunsthalle diner. The buzz is so thick you could cut it like a wedding cake; it’s the inner sanctum of a wasp’s nest.
There is always that awkward moment for me, when I tell someone I am an artist and they ask if I am showing work, and I have reply, “No,” and then under my breath, “I wish.”
Mercifully, a gallerist friend comes to my rescued before any self-deprecating thoughts have time to form. Amidst the noise I hear a breath of truth made sweeter by the fact my friend is such a good sales man — okay, a good bull-shitter; he could sell you your mother. He reminds me to laugh about it all. History isn’t kind to those who rise fast or make quick cash, only to disappear as quickly as they came. So truck the long distance and love every moment of the journey.
In fact this strikes an old chord, from when I was a kid and my parents thought I could, maybe, shimmer on the silver screen. I spent hours dressing up and reenacting movies as I watched them, costume changes and all. Being the progressive Hollywood parents they were, they sent me to Lee Strasberg’s summer camp for kids, where I learned to sing, dance and Method act. I don’t recall much from those days — certainly not as much as I remember the summer days on Ibiza with a new lover now — except for a lot of moaning coupled with physical motion. (That sounds totally wrong. Don’t get any weird ideas: it was all terribly kosher…it was totally pro and the same Method adult actors employ…okay, that didn’t make it sound any better, and I seem to be veering off topic.)
Wait, I’ve found the point: One year our grand recital was a play based on Aesop’s fables. I had to portray the Turtle. The Hun, being the non-typical mom she is, did not make a homemade costume, nor cookies for that matter. Instead, she bought me a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Halloween costume. For whatever reason this seemed to be the most humiliating event for me at the time, even though I was an avid fan of the cartoon show and live-action films.
That is my point: I was cast early as a turtle — a tortoise, rather — and I’ve been that ever since. Slow, patient, with persistent stamina. Maybe I’ll reach the finish line first in the end? Mercifully, the costumes the Hun gets me now are a lot less cheesy. See? Slowly, slowly improvements happen.
I don’t want this to be a whole letter this time, more of an aerogram. Remember those? I barely do. Or maybe this is a stack of postcards on one of those carousels outside souvenir shops in those tourist destinations I’ve been to the past couple of months.
Let me share a few of the panoramas I have stumbled upon. Sixty-three of them. Some are inspiring, others disturbing. Either way, they are here and now, just as a crow in Ibiza that was circling around my escapades in the countryside reminded me of the birds in Island by Aldous Huxley cawing, “Attention. Attention. Attention.”
Let’s be present and enjoy it all,
63 Ways to Say I Love You
1. I didn’t mention this in my letter, but this trip was also a farewell voyage for my beloved grandmama, who passed. Here I am feeling not right while angel Giovanni does his best to comfort me:
2. Apparently style is not only for the elite. This has yet to be proved.
3. The Hun and me.
4. This is why I have a job. In-house artist is the title. Don’t confuse.
5. Another airplane traffic jam.
6. Miami. Home away from home.
8 . I sat on this rock trying to take in the sun and got attacked by a little lizard, licking and trying to bite the flesh of my thigh. I eventually moved to only be found an hour later again by the same lizard–little bastard !
9. Here I got heatstroke and started to pretending the pain in my neck was just a soar throat.
10. NHS antibiotic drip.
11. UHHHH is that food ????
Liste Fair Art
13. Decoupage faces
14. Titi Art
15. I can see you even though I am peeling apart.
16. Hemingway’s Sweater
Unlimited Basel Art Fair
19. Sterling Ruby.
20. Wood is Wood.
21. Pretend Blackboard
22. My favorite discovery, which is nothing new.
23. Too much information.
24. And then the real information of how one is born.
25. East triumphs West.
26. The Origin of the World Revisited, mother a spider spins her web.
Art Basel Design
27. The only design piece I would buy if I had the money.
28. Got to represent, we got’ s the style…shit.
29. Okay, so if I were a millionaire, I would not hesitate.
30. Colorful people are always welcome.
31. Oh, daddy, I ate of the apple! Spank me hard!!
32. Eve and Adam Contemporary
33. Elad Lassry, got to represent since his name IS tattooed on my rib.
34. Sunny side up sunset.
35. Jim Shaw Superman blows all our troubles away.
36. Mutation, a favorite theme.
34. Trying to convince the Hun to buy this.
38. Need I say more? L’Herbe Rouge.
39. Beach Balling, Beach Flirting
40. Pedophilia (???)
41. Dystopian Forest
42. Don’t tell me your kid could do better…
43. Another Adam meets Eve
42. Embroidered beauty
47. My pussy may be a flower but don’t forget to appreciate my face!
47. Walk this way.
46. Finally, a moment of contemplation in front of Anselm Kiefer
50. Death becomes her.
51. My left foot on a dark night.
52. What I and everyone is thinking about…
53. Show me your heart art
54. Life size Cindy Sherman and Giovanni
55. Sometimes the image says it all
53. Cindy Sherman Doll Woman
54. Cum in my face … please!
58. Louise Bourgeois Doll
56. Louise Bourgeois Touching Christ
Art Basel (Again!)
60. Here we are again with pussy. Yes, I am loving all the feminist art !!
61. But what the fuck is this about ??
62. You root my tree while I bare your fruit
63. And then everyone claps when I blink my eyes
And I forgot to mention 14 rooms featuring a grouping of performance pieces, which felt like visiting the most amazing mental ward, Maybe for another story?