8/1/11

TEACH FRANKENSTEIN TO DANCE

Two weeks ago, I performed at TOTAL STYRENE a benefit for Lizzie Scott's amazing project, The Styrene Fantastic. Here's a description of the project:
The project aims to create a small temporary space for creative generosity and intellectual abundance in resistance to the commercial and institutional models of competition and scarcity that define current art worlds. It celebrates the alchemy of turning toxic Styrofoam trash into a source of artistic abundance.
I was really excited to be part of the event, and I made a new piece for it. The other artists (Kennis Hawkins, Michael Mahalchick, Rashaun Mitchell, and Lizzie Scott) were so fantastic, and I am duly grateful to curator Patricia Milder for including me. The event was videotaped, and I certainly hope that the footage will be put online soon. In the meantime, I'm sharing the script for the piece I made "TEACH FRANKENSTEIN TO DANCE".

I was thinking a lot about how to interact with the project and the space. Specifically, thinking a great deal about styrofoam. What are some things that we associate with styrofoam? To my mind, styrofoam is:

- Man-made
- Toxic
- Protective
- Ubiquitous
- White/blank
- Non-biodegradable

And so I was thinking about what other things also have these qualities. Part of the project of the show, it seemed to me, was about the gesture of seeing styrofoam as a source of plenty and ripe for art-making. I was interested in this gesture and how to do it and what it means and so I guess I sort of applied it backwards. I was thinking a lot about how people could be styrofoam, something like a person or a personality could have these same qualities. One of the things which I felt like exhibited these qualities is, for example, Beyoncé. And also, I was interested in discomfort. In exhibiting and making peace with something which you do not entirely believe. For example, styrofoam can both simultaneously be art and also be toxic waste. They can both be true. A person can be art and also toxic; you can make that projection (a person = styrofoam) and also act like you're not making that projection. Beyoncé can be meaningless and at the same time be rife with multiple, complex meanings.

The crowd was pretty responsive, I think it went well. I was really nervous because my Lynn Hirschberg was there in the front row. He had written a really dumb article about how pretentious I am and how bad the art I make is. So in a sort of perverse way I was actually really happy to exhibit deliberately bad art in front of him, to fail spectacularly (or at least have the appearance of doing so, for a few minutes). I think he liked the show, then he didn't like it, but I think he liked it again by the end. Y'know what? That's irrelevant. I liked the piece. So here it is:

TEACH FRANKENSTEIN TO DANCE



(Billy enters, wearing white pants, white sneakers, a white t-shirt, golden faux-snakeskin Comme des Garçons Homme Plus belt with bright pink crystal, and a white-blonde wig. He is eating a rice cake.)

Thank you, hello. I don’t know everyone here. I think I know a few of you. Some of you are new faces. Some of you have familiar faces, but I don't know you. Maybe we met in a past life.

(Pause)

I don’t know if I’m supposed to talk about it or not, or if it’s supposed to be a secret... Because no one’s said anything about it so far tonight, but I’ll just, I mean, SPOILER ALERT. I'll just say it. I think it's really rad that everyone involved with the exhibition, tonight, the other artists, and the organizers all happen to be from California. I think that's great. And, you know, they take recycling really, really seriously out there in Cali. Like it’s a total civic duty. They teach it to kids. You do it because you have to.

And I feel like in other places, like maybe in New York, it’s different. Like maybe not everybody recycles. Almost everybody. Maybe everybody here. Probably. I know we all want to, everyone here-- you all look like you want to recycle but maybe we sometimes forget. You know? I’m not judging.

(Pause)

You guys.

(Pause)

Anyway I feel like: we’re all on the same page, I don’t need to explain to anyone here tonight what recycling is or why it’s important or whatever. But you know, the big thing about recycling is not just about reducing waste but also about reuse. Like, the whole point of it is to find new uses for things, to waste less. And I feel like I sort of missed that until really recently. Like, finding new uses for stuff. I think that’s great. Because, y’know, in California you just do it because you have to and you don’t really think about it.

I’m SORRY! I am super distracted.



(Speaking just away from the microphone, addressing someone in the front row) Who ARE you? You are so fucking adorable. You. Yes. What is your name? Wait, what? Okay. I am doing a show right now but will you be here later? Will you, like, stick around for a minute after the show? Okay. Cool.

(speaking back in the mic, addressing the crowd) Hi. Sorry. Where was I? Okay. DID. YOU. KNOW. THAT: The average North American human, over the course of their lifetime, ingests between 15 and 20 POUNDS of Styrofoam. That is a lot. Think about it.

(takes another bite of the rice cake he is holding) And it doesn’t, like, biodegrade or anything. I mean, I guess the idea is that you shit most of it out, like you eat it in really small parts , like maybe when you walk by a construction site, or maybe some gets into your mouth while yr asleep, or maybe it gets sneaked into your head through the TV or the radio. But we all have some percentage of this 15 to 20 pounds of Styrofoam in us at any given moment.

So I guess, um, I would want to revise my earlier statement, and say that probably closer to 100% of the people in this room are recycling. Right now.

(A song plays, "Hi" by J. Dilla. During the song, Billy turns around and takes off his shirt. He wraps himself in a gauzy white garment and a white ladies blazer. He methodically ties blonde hair weaves around his head, in layers, cloaking his face. He puts on a pair of sunglasses while the song plays. Another song comes on, "Run the World (Girls)" by Beyoncé. Billy sings along to the song, forgetting words, which Beyoncé sings for him. He also sings different words which you will be able to delineate by the parenthesis).



Girls, we run this motha (yeah!) x4

Who run the world? Girls! x4
Who run this motha? Girls! x4
Who run the world? Girls! x4

Some of them men think they freak this like we do (EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE THE SAME BUT REALLY)
But no they don't
Make your cheque come at they neck, (IF EVERYONE WAS THE SAME)
Disrespect us no they won't


Boy don't even try to touch this (I CAN’T TELL THE DIFFERENCE)
Boy this beat is crazy (I THINK I’M GOING CRAZY)
This is how they made me (I DON’T KNOW WHEN IT STARTED)
Houston Texas baby (I DON’T KNOW WHERE I AM)

This goes out to all my girls (I HAVE AMNESIA AND I CAN’T)
That's in the club rocking the latest (FEEL MY FINGERS OR MY TOES)
Who will buy it for themselves (ONLY WHAT I PUT INSIDE MYSELF)
and get more money later (IS ALL MY BODY KNOWS)

I think I need a barber
None of these bitches can fade me
I'm so good with this (I’M NOT GOOD AT THIS)
I remind you I'm so hood with this (NOTHING IS EASY)

Boy I'm just playing,
Come here baby
Hope you still like me,
Fuck you, pay me.

(Speaking)
My persuasion (I WAKE UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT AND ALL I SEE IS BLACK)
can build a nation (I DON’T KNOW IF I AM DREAMING OR NOT)
Endless power (BUT A SONG IS STUCK IN MY HEAD)
With our love we can devour (I REALIZE)
You'll do anything for me (IT IS THE JINGLE FROM A COMMERCIAL)

Who run the world? Girls! x4
Who run this motha? Girls! x4
Who run the world? Girls! x4

It's hot up in here
DJ don't be scared to run this, run this back
I'm repping for the girls who taking over the world
Have me raise a glass for the college grads (pulls another rice cake from the pocket of the white jacket and raises it like for a toast)

Anyone rolling I'll let you know what time it is
You can't hold me
I broke my 9 to 5 and copped my cheque.

This goes out to all the women getting it in (THIS GOES OUT TO ANYONE WHO'S)
Get on your grind (EVER HAD A DREAM BEFORE)
To the other men that respect what I do (AND WALKING DOWN THE STREET ONE DAY)
Please accept my shine (YOU SEE IT FOR SALE IN A STORE)

Boy I know you love it (I USED TO BE ALLERGIC TO IT)
How we're smart enough to make these millions (NOW I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IT)
Strong enough to bear the children (I TAKE MY MEDICATION)
Then get back to business

See, you better not play me (AND IT STILL HURTS ME)
Don't come here baby (PLEASE BELIEVE ME)
Hope you still like me
Fuck you, pay me.

My persuasion can build a nation (I’VE WRAPPED MY MIND IN STYROFOAM)
Endless power (FOR INSULATION, TO PROTECT IT ON ITS JOURNEY)
With our love we can devour (FROM ONE LIFE TO THE NEXT)
You'll do anything for me (I’VE SOLD SPACE IN MY IMAGINATION TO MAKE ROOM FOR ADVERTISEMENTS)

(speaking over the music)
Who run the world? Girls! [x4] (WE’ARE ALL LIKE MARY SHELLEY)
Who run this motha? Girls! [x4] (MAKING FRANKENSTEIN OUT OF DEAD PARTS OF OUR MINDS)
Who run the world? Girls! [x4] (MAKING A MONSTER OUT OF OUR HUMAN ASPIRATIONS LIKE THE DESIRE TO LIVE FOREVER)

Who are we? What we run? The world. (WE’VE MADE TRASH THAT WILL LIVE FOREVER. STYROFOAM NEVER DIES WE BUILT IT TO BE IMMORTAL)
Who are we? What we run? The world. (AND NOW WE LIVE IN A WORLD WITH OUR SHADOW FRANKENSTEIN, AND SO WE HAVE TO FIND A NEW USE FOR FRANKENSTEIN AND FOR STYROFOAM AND OUR DREAMS AND TRASH)
Who are we? What do we run? We run the world! (AND I KNOW IT’S SCARY, TO TEACH FRANKENSTEIN TO DANCE, TO BE ART)
Who are we? What we run? We run the world. (I’M HERE TO TELL YOU THAT IT’S OKAY TO BE SCARED.)

Who run the world? (IT’S OKAY TO BE SCARED)
Girls!

JUST DON’T LET THAT STOP YOU

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