some first realizations:
with daffodil photos to come!
i didn’t go out into the world much the first day or two: i was at home for my birthday after going to pick up my dairy & meat order, and then the next day was not so nice out. so it wasn’t till yesterday that i had the experience of going out into the world in the outfit and instantly knowing what the next few alterations would be. the capelet was absolutely right (and needed the tie-ribbons), but now i need arm- and leg-coverings, in a modular, removable way. so i’ll make some fake pants (just legs) and a linen garter belt. milo says the layers of linen straps of the underwear and garter belt will be fun; we’ll see. and perhaps the sleeves are a shrug, or perhaps armlets – maybe i have something (old socks-turned-armies?) i can just absorb.
what i’m wearing is far enough outside people’s experience that i don’t seem to be getting very active reactions (except from smaller kids, who are fascinated). i’m getting looks, but something about the look doesn’t seem to parse enough for a label to stick. the exception is a few young adults who i read as being more actively fashion-thinking types; they’re complimentary so far.
the underwear is definitely part of the outfit. partly it just feels like it: the kaftan is different with the sleeveless shift and the sleeved one, with the breechclout and the jock-style g-string. and partly thinking of it that way – with a layer of alterations that are most (or only) noticeable to me (and still make the outfit “noticeably changed”) – gives me more space to work longer and more thoughtfully on additions and changes.
and that, i think, brings me back to the rainer structure: doing rehearsal in public; doing something as performance that isn’t necessarily different in form from what they did the day before without an audience.
the audience really doesn’t matter, for CP-AD or COAD. not that people being present as observers doesn’t make a difference: it does, and trying to understand the shape of that difference is part of the point. but the way to start figuring out that shape is to hold the form, the structure constant whether there is an audience or not, and then see what changes when there is one.
and that rhymes with montano: Life/Art is what you do whether or not there’s an audience. and sometimes it’s “art” and sometimes it’s “life”, or some parts are one and some parts are the other, and the audience can’t necessarily identify either of them (or, maybe better: their identification of what’s what has no particular relationship to yours).
today i’m starting a year-long reperformance piece!
it’s called Continuous Outfit – Altered Daily, and re-bodies scores by Yvonne Rainer (Continuous Project – Altered Daily [1969-70]) and Linda M. Montano (7 Years of Living Art [1984-91]).
the score, a performance note, and links to the source scores are here.
and ongoing photo documentation will be here.
my reflections on the piece as it develops will be on this blog, under the tag #continuous.
to start with:
the initial state of the outfit consists of a crimson kaftan in medium-light-weight linen, cinched with a black cotton-webbing belt decorated with bronze-look rivets, over white undergarments in the same linen.
i made all of it except the belt (a long-ago dumpster find) this week. the kaftan is a blatant ripoff of my housemate M’s pandemic winter style, which has featured gorgeous lightweight kaftans in saturated colors.
i adore the color of the kaftan – i’ve been excited to wear this red ever since my neighborhood fabric store showed me the bolt when i went in and asked about linen earlier this month, and now i’m getting to!
and the linen feels great to wear. i’m not likely to turn into a primitivist (i and most of my friends would be dead or incapacitated in their medical technology-less utopia, after all), but there’s something very real to the loss of sensory quality of life under capitalism and the state. i usually think about that in terms of food (having been lucky enough to travel in places where you can eat almost entirely from local markets during the growing season), of nighttime light pollution and daytime sound pollution in the cities where i’ve lived, of the aggressive dullness of the colors of most industrial products (cars, computers, apartment buildings…). but it’s just as true of the materials we put against our skins.
during the planning process, i’ve thought of this project as largely a visual one, but i think texture and touch will be just as important to my everyday experience of doing it. which makes me even more grateful than usual for Materials for the Arts (the best arts/sanitation collaboration any city i know has!), and the way it’s kept me supplied with leather, silk, satin, felt, fine woollens, mysterious fur (nutria? groundhog? we may never know) and other lovely things to touch and wear.
for gay stamina month, here’s my old comrade bob kohler zts”l writing in Come Out in 1970 about the kids who hung out at christopher street & 7th avenue – the ones who fought at stonewall and aren’t celebrated by name; the ones who hung out at the piers (and still do, despite gentrification and redevelopment); the ones who west village homosexual homeowners and tourists call the cops on; the ones who GLmaybeBfakeTneverQ NGOs have never given a shit about.
these are sylvia rivera and marsha p johnson’s people. STAR people. “street gay” => “street queen” => “street transvestite” => “street transgender” ~> some kinds of trans folks, but not the nice kinds. not the kinds that want to wrap themselves in the flag, talk to the cops, be entrepreneurial, or march alongside cops and corporations in a parade pretending that Everything Is Just Fine. and not the kind who think Identity is what matters.
the piece is also the earliest place i’ve seen “mopped” and “read” in print, though i’m sure they were used much earlier. bob used to talk about these kids leaving stuff they’d lifted at his store on christopher street. they were his friends, and some of them, especially sylvia, were his comrades in the Gay Liberation Front (till it stopped being a workable space for trans folks) and many other projects down through the decades.
bob, unlike so many of the other gay men who were in the streets 49 years ago during the stonewall riot, never stopped being a radical faggot. he knew that as long as the kids he wrote about here were “so fucking afraid – in a world they never truly made”, he could not rest. he knew that until we truly make the world we live in, none of us can.