An Old Letter

The impetus for writing this letter was reading somewhere the Marina made her protegees do grueling tasks such as “separate sesame seeds from rice.”  The activity sounding cathartic to me, and I immediately wanted in.  Marina never got back to me, but I still hold out hope that five years from now, as I’m simultaneously cradling my new baby and washing dishes and cursing the horrors of domesticity, I will hear my phone beep and see that an email has come in from this address, and all it will say is, “It’s time.”  When it happens, I’ll be ready.  (Some of the writing below is sloppy –– I was oh-so-young eight months ago –– but I still like my performance art ideas!)

To: Marina Abramovic

Subject: No Subject

Dear Ms. Abramovic,

I suppose it sounds trite to say I’m a huge fan, I deeply admire your work, etc. etc., but then again, just because something is a cliche doesn’t mean it is false.  But that sounds trite, too.  So, just know all this, as you read on…

My friend (I hope she would not object to that label) JT gave me your email after I inquired about your effort to start a performance art school-cum-performance space in Hudson, New York, in the next year/year and a half or so.  It was unclear from the pieces I read whether this space was intended to be used mostly for teaching/practicing or mostly for performing, but if there will be workshops or classes that occur there, I wanted to put myself high on the wait list for attendance (I’m sure there’s a wait list already.)  Writer is my vocation and visual art my avocation, and I have been slowly coming to terms, recently, with my desire to explore performance art.  My writing has always nudged up against the boundaries of performance –– it is as directly engaging as it can be, attempts to actively change thought patterns in both me and the reader, and tries in ways to mirror things as they are occurring in me in the present.  Recently I began to feverishly write poems that describe various performance pieces of which I have conceived.  I have two fully formed in my mind, and those will meet your requirement of being at least six hours.  I’m happy to outline them (on second thought, I may only have one that’s solid enough) if you want more information.  Okay, here goes: I would like to, on stage, preferably in a grand concert space, retype famous classics of literature (think War and Peace) without respite.  The urge to do this –– and it does feel like an urge, something incessant and bodily  –– comes from my love of the sound of typing, and the feeling that the keyboard is the only instrument I play (I type very quickly, and sometimes feel like I reach a kind of transient, autistic state while doing so.)  I have a ridiculous fantasy of a world tour –– me, rewriting the longest tomes in the world’s most beautiful concert halls like the Sydney Opera House or the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, stumbling off hours, days, weeks later and collapsing, exhausted despite not having moved much.  (How long do you imagine it would take to retype, for example, Infinite Jest or Anna Karenina?)  All performances –– hours and hours of tap-tap-tap –– available for purchase afterwards on iTunes.

The other ideas I have at the moment are less performance art and more performative public works; for example, I want to send a crew of people out into the subway stations to hand out copies of Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death a la Jehovah’s Witnesses or Messianic Jews.  I do think it would be very helpful for everyone to think, at least once a day, that he/she will die.

But I can always come up with new ideas.

Perhaps naivete, or the lack of self-awareness that this blind email speaks to, will make me seem a viable candidate for such study.  If you would keep me in mind, I would be so grateful.



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