I love it when an artist’s ideas stick with you long after you’ve seen a piece. Sometime later, whether a week or a year has passed, those ideas can flood back to you in a rush of connections that your brain suddenly completes. It is one of the exhilarating “Ah ha!” moments of enjoying contemporary art.
Last Saturday, I had attended the noontime-chat at PNCA on “The View from France” with Vivarium Studio and David Eckard. Both artists said some interesting things – Philippe Quesne about artistic funding in France, Eckard about the unique problems of Float- but, for the most part, I was feeling bitter that I wasn’t going to be able to make it to The Itching of Wings and wasn’t much in the mood for a chat.
So here I am a few days later, crossing downtown in my job as an art handler at a local gallery. In front of me, I am struggling to cart a gigantic crate – easily three times my size and weight – uphill on 11th. Despite my obvious effort, I can’t even solicit a knowing or sympathetic nod from a single passerby! As I am wheezing my way to the client, I am reminded of Eckard’s words, and of his TBA 04 performance, Podium
In the course of Saturday’s chat, the group got to discussing audience and venues. It was then that Eckard made a comment along the lines of (and bear with me as I paraphrase), “I always tell my students, ‘You could dismantle the city of Portland in the middle of the day as long as you had a uniform and a focused look.” Eckard’s point was that through his art practice, he has come to see that people will let you get away with all manners of bizarre behavior so long as you look confident. Even more important, it seems, than your demeanor, is if you have an object that corroborates your story. Eckard remembered rarely having been interrupted during Podium when he was wheeling his metal soapbox across town to his next locale. The contraption vaguely resembled a tool that someone could, conceivably, use for some sort of official business, thereby providing a front of credibility to Eckard’s action. In the eyes of bystanders, Eckard filled some purpose, even if they didn’t know what it was.
So too did I, laboring to deliver my cargo across town. I felt like I should have parked my hand-truck on a street corner, mounted my box, and delivered an oration, doing Eckard proud. Or, at the very least, I should have removed a part of the city as people went about their business.
posted by patrick leonard