Should I Stay? Or Should I Go? Apr 16, 2009

by Tania Kupczak

What follows is an early-morning conversation between Yoko Ott and Scott Lawrimore after a late-night outing to see Sister Taking Nap.   It was the opening night of Wynne Greenwood’s newest performance...

Yoko Ott: After pouring my first cup of coffee this morning, I was compelled to go to the refrigerator, open it, and look for jam.   I found two jars, Pele’s Poha Berry Jam and some peach preserves.   I haven’t used either in eight months.   Both were gifts.

Scott M Lawrimore:   Do you think you have so few jars because you’re sister-less?

YO:   Is that really going to be your first question?!

SML:   Yes.   [Chuckling, a wheezy chuckle.]   Did a  “sister ” give you the jam?

YO:   I guess so.   The Pele’s Poha Berry Jam was a given to me by my best friend from childhood.   She still lives in Hawaii.   My mom left the peach preserves here after a visit.   I tried to get her to take it with her when she went back home—an impractical request given TSA regulations and all.   She said  “that’s a present for you. ”   Lame, because I don’t like peaches.

SML:   When your mom has visited through the years, do you think she’s sensed your evolution based on the objects you chose to live with?

YO:   What, like you?

SML:   Yeah ”¦I think you’ve hit your evolutionary zenith with me.

YO:   Hmmm ”¦so, it’s all Devo from here?

SML:   Speaking of hanging out with all the right people, did you see who was in the audience last night?

YO:   Really.   You’re really going to turn this blog post into a "page six" fluff piece?

SML: I do find it interesting to see whom of the who’s who are choosing to attend performances like this.   It was a virtual Noah’s ark at the sold out OTB performance last night—two of each species.   Two museum curators, two art historians, two collectors, two arts critics, two photographers, two video artists, two relational aesthetic artists, two performance artists, two institutional marketing directors, two art professors, at least two dancers, et al ”¦   The Noah metaphor breaks down (and gets more interesting) as you begin to tally the different sexual orientations attending ”¦

YO:   You know what I found interesting?   The performance.

SML:   If it’s your instinct that this blog has strayed, turn it around sister.   Turn it around.

YO:   Where’s my pen?

SML:    ”¦that was a beautiful, beautiful and pivotal, moment.

YO:   I second that.   Have you had a pen moment?

SML:   I feel like I have pen moments every day practically.   When you are questioning things you deem important or define you at any given moment—those marks, or indicators of how you’ve chosen to survive or how you’ve evolved, not to mention the opposite:   all the things you don’t have or choose to not let define you – you quickly realize they’re two sides of the same shiny, instinctual, existential coin.

YO:   The realization that the pen is now a bunch of jars of jam.   Being comfortable with that, or rather reconciling your discomfort with that.

SML:   Exactly.   Wynne talks a lot about  “instinct ” and her  “gut ” in terms of creating her work, but from the few mental notes I took last night the word that kept etching itself on my brain as the performance progressed was  “authentic. ”   I’ve said this before about art I admire – it’s an all too rare and lovely thing to witness someone or something  “being it while doing it. ”   It was the authenticity of the piece (the subtle gestures, the repetitive dialog, the sculptural props, the overall tenor and pacing, the message, etc) that gave me the distinct impression that we were witnessing not just a discreet art piece, but also the embodiment of the creative act itself and an authentic representation of how this artist thinks and where this artist is in her own evolution at precisely this moment in her career.   It’s this self-awareness and evaluation of the self that manifested itself in the piece so perfectly.

YO:   I know!   I was talking with a friend last night who was uncertain about what they just saw.   During that conversation something occurred to me:   There is college-ruled paper.   And there is wide-ruled paper.   Then there is Wynne-ruled paper.   On Wynne-ruled paper the space between the lines is extra-wide, double wide if you will.   As a viewer, learning to negotiate all that space can be uncomfortable at times.    “Reading between the lines ” takes on a whole new meaning.   You think:   How do I justify? Top?   Bottom?   Center.     As a curator, I’ve learned working with Wynne that awkward silence can be a beautiful thing.   Once you relax into it, the form of restrained language that emerges is captivating.   Sister Taking Nap’s narrative is informed by the objects, inanimate objects which become animate through the pops and hisses of casio-style drum beats and fill-in-the-blank-garage-band-like programs.   And silence.     A new vocabulary of silence and what occurs in that moment is something that struck me as the tipping point.   I guess that there is a conflict because that becomes the moment when we want to start defining.

Ultimately I’m approaching this as an open-ended conversation.   I take this experience to mean that we are in mid-sentence.   Knowing that Wynne created the exhibition Sweated at the Hedreen Gallery to be in relationship with Sister Taking Nap definitely informs the work for me.   The way she integrated elements of Sweated within the performance was a delightful surprise.   And since Sweated serves as the off-site backdrop to this performance and there are future performances planned for the gallery post-Sister Taking Nap, I’m looking forward to how the rest of the story unfolds.

SML:   Me too!   I'm all sweaty looking for that pen, now super hungry for some jam, and I'm trying to decide if I need a nap...