As for myself, I have been picking up and putting down Michael Lesy's Forbidden Zone and Wisconsin Death Trip while taking a bit over 3 months to wallow and be a hermit. Its been my own personal way to interpret a grieving process - working with a disheveled museum community alongside a friend killing herself. Perhaps the safer term for socially exchanging this information would be to say that she chose to take her own life, or that she committed suicide. But she did kill herself. I suppose these things just happen, and we have to be with these things happening.
The production of The Body Appropriate slowed down. A friend described what I was going through by comparing my work and home life to that of a sex worker, where sometimes life messes with one's work. My friend died. My current projects all gravitate and pull against death. For this last month of existing as an un(non)productive grieving hermit, the combination of living in downtown San Francisco and having glass for a wall on a SOMA street has allowed me to listen and interpret the screams and sobs of mentally unstable people as they go about their days and nights. This is downtown San Francisco after all. A week ago I went for a walk and was the second choice to a purse snatching. I watched a group of men pause in their car to scope me out, drive a little further along, get out of their car, and attack an asian woman with a DSL camera around her neck.
I paired all these eventful things with not knowing how to handle my art-as-natural-death-studies advocation, and left myself to counting the split ends of my untrimmed-since-2010 hair.
Some people in my circles tease me that my storefront is still a mess. The Body Appropriate Museum isn't ready yet.
But, Jason is here for his visit. And two nights ago I showed him my new collection of donated human brains. There are four of them just now, the fifth waiting for me inside a very generous and wild woman's hand built estate up in the Berkeley Hills.
When I brought Jason to meet the brains, (you know, hes a cognitive science PhD person) as his knees bent him down, he asked if he could pick one of the jars up, arms extending. Before I could say yes, or maybe just as I uttered the permission, the jar was already on its way up to his face, ethanol sloshing by the tilt of the jar, disintegrated tissues clouding the yellowing liquid. The brain didn't exactly bob up and down, but it hovered and turned against the currents in the jar.
"Tell me something about them?" I said.
Jason spoke with one hand pointing and quickly gesturing, while the jar was cradled with his other, leaning into his arm pit.
Now it is a different day, and I gave Jason a task. I asked him to help me label one of these brains.
We took some time to figure out what pins would not rust in the ethanol, decided we were on a budget, and chose the pins I use to hold my aprons and skirts while sewing them. I went to the local Walgreens and picked up a box of vinyl gloves, two bottles of ethanol, and some rubber cement located in the kids craft section. The register clerk, who was wearing a Walgreens shirt, colored similar to a doctors scrub, didn't bat an eye at my purchase combination. I think I hoped that he would. Maybe he was being polite.
On my walk home, I ran into some contract workers I worked along side last winter, when we building an exhibition at the Exploratorium. They were up on cranes installing glass pianos falling from a new hoity and bank apartment complex. I used the box of gloves to shield my eyes from the sun as I yelled up to greet them, the ethanol hugged against my chest. They waved down at me in their hard hats, beards and brown coveralls. It was nice to see people installing large objects onto building facades in the midst of honking cars speeding past on a busy street. Downtown San Francisco is changing, but at least we are still sticking art on it.
I tied strings around the sewing pins and had Jason stick them into the tissues where he thought appropriate. I wrote and attached labels of his dictations. He chose the larger regions, deciding to label the Corpus Callosum even though it could not actually be seen when looking at an unsliced brain. He placed the pin in the crevice between the two hemispheres.
Jason then had to do some things before catching his flight, so I finished up the glueing of the labels to the glass of the jar.
The sun set around 5pm and the yellow of the three lightbulbs lighting the room now make the brain less prominent when you stare at it.
I want to make it so that this post marks my decision to begin work again on the Body Appropriate project. I am rejoining the living, and will make an announcement as soon as the museum is ready.