African Love in The Time of Art0
And so I dashed off into the rain 3 o’clock this afternoon, head wrapped in my scarf, desperate for an umbrella, brain ticking seconds towards the deadline one hour away. Eseohe misses the 6 train but makes the 4 and hits Grand Central in time to be fleeced $5 for a paper-foil umbrella. It’s already broken but I’m hanging on to 1 thought: chashama or bust.
Today I am in search of a performance space and lacking funds to purchase one, I enter a pond brimming with swollen intellectuals. It was strange to find chashama’s office in the corporate hood I have re-deserted for the non-profit world. Indeed I was stuck on one corner for a bit, wondering where NorthEast was, contemplating the towering boxes and looking for smudges or dog-eared walls or some signifier of unpurchaseable nuance that said, “Art”.
Furthermore, beyond the gauntlet of double-glass-door & revolving-glass-door & double glass door sat another one of those Carribean or African black men whose sole function on this floor of elevators and other transients is to STAY there. I was in the right place. “chashama” is on the 32nd floor, take the elevator up to the 31st floor, turn something something something else very important.” he kindly told me, his face softened by sitting long hours spent watching passers-by.
Before I got lost with the other late contestants on the 31st floor, I was dizzied by the elevator’s steep ascent there. I don’t get high much unless it’s drugs- just kidding. Kids, do not do drugs. In those seconds, I contemplated my death and news of it traveling to my grandmother in Nigeria. I imagined myself leaping out of a window in some corner hallway of the 31st floor. I visualized the ants on the sidewalks below ballooning into shrieking emoticons as gravity demanded I return to its bosom. With Love, Eseohe, your death calls.
Ping! dinged the boiled pot of anxiety I was steeped in. I stepped out of the elevator and wandered around looking for 31st floor, turn something something something else very important until I encountered two other contestants seemingly stymied. To my schadenfreude, they had grown chummy as contestants tend to do and frightened one another with their own curriculum vitaes. I felt lucky to have endured my solitary imagination. I was afraid of falling, they of failing.
After wandering around some more, we found a door and a box, one closed, the other non-communicative. We dropped in our applications and went our separate ways, unrequited.
Allow me to share a bite from the bone I reluctantly fed to the curt application box:
“Love Letters” is a performance / installation series about the concept of Love in 3 forms. Love in duty to ideas, Love in romance and personal relationships and Love for oneself. This work is ideally viewed as a picture-window performance series occurring in 3 parts and is date specific to:
January 19, 2009 (Martin Luther King Day),
February 14, 2009 (Valentine’s Day) and
April 9, 2009 (My birthday).
It’s the reason they should choose me but I was also just thinking: When has Love been thought a topic worthy of Art? Yes, Shakespeare and other faceless poets but when was it not dirtied with tongue-in-cheek, sullied by sex or greed? Love has always been for me a propulsion towards art-making. The character, after Pirandello, begging itself into being; the planet Earth per Afrikan Theater born of love for a tree-God.
In considering the subject of my application, I now understand that I was equating the omnipotence of Love with what is for me, the purpose of Art. Perhaps because I was born in Africa, in a content where Art and Life have not been so separated, I believe that Art is Love and should come free. When we have to pay for making Art, like paying for making Love, we become whores. And that’s why I wanted to show Love, sparkling its shiny chrome gears. That or fear of falling.Tweet This Post! Tags: chashama, eseohe arhebamen, martin luther king day, my birthday, valentine's day