Busy Busy Busy

I’ve been really busy procrastinating and eating food with my boyfriend and therefore have been terrible with my blog.  For me, this means no “substantial” posts in a week, whereas I know I am (*brushes dirt off shoulders*) slightly more diligent than most “hobby” bloggers.  (Hloggers?)

Any fuck, I’m working on some really big, original pitches to the Kardashians, Vice Magazine, and an in-depth piece about the life of Britney Spears (a hagiography of sorts) but in the meantime, here’s a little snippet of an interview with one of my favorite artists, Petah Coyne.  The whole piece is worth reading, but here’s the part that I think about probably seven or eight times a day:

LT In an early piece, when you’d first moved to New York, you hung dead fish from trees around the city. Looking at photographs of the dead fish, I think, Here’s a new girl in town, walking around a strange city, seeing dead fish in stores. It’s as if you identify with them. You begin saving them, collecting them. It’s odd, because you’re collecting corpses and trying to keep the corpses from decomposing. What did you put on them?

PC We put Rhoplex on them, which didn’t preserve them. Then we used polyurethane, but if there are any air bubbles in it, the maggots still get in.

LT You hung dead fish from a tree in front of a house in the suburbs. Such a weird thing.

PC Do you think so?

LT The idea that some suburbanites would like to awaken to dead fish hanging from trees in their front yard.

PC I never assumed they wouldn’t.

LT That’s what’s strange. But you had to get the fish out of your loft; they were a health hazard.

PC After five years of living with decomposing dead fish…. But perhaps first we could talk about the fact that I almost always work intuitively. My mother trained me to trust my instincts. As I get older, I trust them more. Women have this instinctual ability to know stuff we shouldn’t know. I don’t know how. When I arrived here in New York, I worked at Chanel during the day. I did their in-house advertising. It was the height of beauty—many of the women were having their legs operated on to make them thinner—and then at night I would go and buy dead fish. I was like an alcoholic. I’d say, I’m not going to spend another cent on dead fish, but I couldn’t resist. For me, I was saving the fish from being eaten by someone. I was going to give them a better send-off. And in addition to all that, I was also working with people who were terminally ill.

LT You were working at Chanel, and you were working in a hospice?

PC I was going to Boston every other weekend. I worked for a physician there. My job was to go in and talk to his patients and listen to them, because their families couldn’t, it was too painful. I was also looking for something that was more real than what I was seeing in the galleries. I couldn’t relate to it, and I couldn’t relate to Chanel.

LT What year was this?

PC This was 1978, 1979. The gallery situation was so intimidating. Susan Lubowsky Talbott, who’s now the director of the Des Moines Art Center, also lived in this building, and she kept saying to me, “Just keep working. I don’t understand what you’re doing. And don’t try to show this stuff, nobody’s going to want to see it.” So for five years, I worked by myself. Susan kept saying, “Just keep going.” In Boston, I was working with people who’d been given a month to live. They could opt for surgery, and I could often watch the surgery, which was fascinating. There was a mourning, and other rituals similar to both Catholicism and Japanese culture, both multilayered and complex. Just as you left one layer unscathed, what you were presented with wasn’t the insight you wanted to attain, but a dozen new thoughts and questions. I was so moved by what people confided to me. The dead fish would then be as close as I could get to their passing. Many of the patients died. A few didn’t. I tried to figure out why. What was their strength? Their power? I was trying to put those thoughts and energy into my work.


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