Monday, June 15, 2009

YACB sketch for White/God/Abraham:


William said...

Well... this should be interesting.

Mary Beth said...

Lincoln was not great lover of the African race. He felt white men to be superior to all other races. Lincoln supported sending freed slaves to Liberia as he felt they would never be able to assimilate into white American culture. Read the comments her made prior to 1860 and you'll wonder how he became Father Abraham.

William said...

I guess you have to grade him on a curve of the time. I can't help but believe his karma was in the positive in at the end.

Dan Dutton said...

In the realm of symbolic language that YACB is situated in polar qualities are very close, like sides of a coin (only without the coin inbetween). ~ freedom/slavery, black/white, beauty/ugliness - etc - are subject to the imagination's power of inversion and deformation. Bachelard said that the imagination does not create, it deforms and exaggerates. This concurs with Yoruba mythology where Obatala, the White Orisa (this whiteness had nothing to do with the odd idea we have of the "white man" - pinkish, really.)
Obatala makes the forms of everything, including humans, from clay (maybe the French la pate' is closer in concept... ) AND you get to choose your head - that's a whole scene in YACB.

Anyway, there's a story that when making humanity, Obatala got drunk on palm wine and made cripples, albinos, various deformations, deeply regretted it when he sobered up, and swore off the stuff - but remained the patron orisa thereof.

I'm letting the images and symbols in my general pool for YACB cluster and form new associations according to their own peculiar poetic tendencies, trying to work without censoring so much. The results challenge my thought to understand what the connections are, & that's what I think the fabrication that we term history should do.

About that grading on the curve ~ I happened on a Wall Street investors blog that had the statement; "If you make the timeline long enough, the survival rate is zero."

Mary Beth said...

The Civil War is so powerful, so much a part of Southern (even Boarder State) life to this day (as is racism), I do not believe it is possible for its symbols and myths be randomly reassigned and reconfigured within the space of a single performance. If I am wrong and they can be reassigned, will it of any healing value? Yes it is high time we reexamine our beliefs, but if there is no ground to hold onto we go drifting away into space, lost in our own little worlds of chaos and confusion. While I’m far from brilliant, I am of at least average or better intelligence. If I represent the norm of the audience members, shouldn’t I be able to “get it” without being spoon fed? Is YACB about what the artist experienced while creating (a la Pollock’s action painting, “When I am in my painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It is only after a sort of 'get acquainted' period that I see what I have been about. I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own.”)?

Dan Dutton said...

The organization of the symbols in YACB is very far, I think, from random, but intent which organizes it does put a priority on freedom to look at familiar material in new ways. There are some inherent problems with communicating the sort of work that I do, and usually new work does not make (easy) sense, at first - so I fully expect some witnesses to comment that "I don't know what that was." (luckily ((when I've heard it)) has usually been followed by - "but I liked it.)

A problem, for example, in the English language, is that the words "black" and "dark" are connected with a cluster of words bearing negative resonance (not only poetically, but also through the process of learning and cognition, always a culturally slanted enterprise...) So in one sense, little progress will be made with the problem of racism until the dialectics of color theory in our language is fundamentally changed, as long as black bears a negative charge that white does not, and as long as those words are associated (and claimed) by human beings as categories of identity, the language itself will continue to perpetuate a clash of stereotypes.
White = Light = Good x Black = Dark = Bad.

To counter some of this, (by bringing awareness to bear on it - as in Brecht's method) one step in my theater is to flip-flop some of these symbolic weights and show that their inversions also carry poetic force. This is not a random process - words and the images they evoke connect in ways that have great tenacity.

To get a feel for how I work with images and categories, I highly recommend: Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things by George Lakoff; Metaphors We Live By by George Lakoff
Lakoff's work, especially with color names, and an essay on the word "anger" - helped me find my method.

Pollock's comment (itself intended to establish an identity for him of artist as shaman) might lead one to believe that an external ecstacy created his paintings, but a look at what's on the canvas will reveal that his method is calculated and carefully circumscribed. The arcs of drip, for instance, seldom cross the boundaries of the edge. He could go into something of a trance state (if he did) because the window he was working within was extremely controlled and restrained.

Works of art, and history (when its written or told) are inevitably much about the points of view, agendas and priorities of the makers or writers - and that's possibly the main reason why such things are interesting. Visitors to my world have to acclimate themselves to the values therein ~ I simply cannot promise that they will be meaningful to anyone else, and often times I cannot explain what a work is about, before, during, or after, because it IS about ITSELF, and exists in that form because that is the form of its communication. That's not quite like not knowing what's going on, more that focus has to be applied where it counts.

I'll post an "about the story" blog for YACB soon!