We s&*%, we f&$@, we kill, we die Mar 20, 2017

by Petra Zanki

While looking for a place where I could write about Jessica’s work, the one that would have a European feel to bring me home (something that is more than 100 years old, with wooden walls, brass fixtures, and high ceilings) walking up the hill, and then down the hill, and then up the hill, then down again, on a first evening in which the sun hiding behind Olympics sets in months, I think how blessed I am to be far, far away from wars.

And I also think about my American experience, all of my American experiences at once. Oddly enough, what comes to mind while climbing up and down those hills is: “We eat, we shit, we kill, we fuck”. As I am not sure if it was in Jessica’s piece that I heard that sentence, I text my friend to ask her if she knows (she does). That same sentence always comes to me, here, at the end of the world, when the sun is setting behind Olympics, when I think about human race. I knew someone who decided that sun over Olympics would be the last view they’d see from their window before they died.

There are many of my first ever–American-experiences, some more pleasant, some more confusing than others. What keeps me here and what I admire in people is the capacity to imagine the unimaginable, and to hope even when there is little to hope. What always surprises me is a blend of things that couldn’t possibly blend together, like the home-made cookies with pre-purchased m&m’s and pretzels in them (wow), or tofurkey, or turducken. How many times I had that wow effect, in all range of “wows”.  What confuses me is how much one such world makes sense: blending probably being its most sincere quality.

I saw Jessica’s piece for the first time a couple of years ago. From there I remember a group of people crying and dying on stage. I have seen them with wigs and props and sheets over their heads. Last Thursday I also saw someone making the Moon vanish all while crying and dying.

On Thursday I also thought: “Wait, Showcase Beat le Mot!” then I thought: “Wait, Gob Squad!” Both are European groups whose collective creations are cherished and valued where I come from. But with Jessica’s piece there was also something genuinely different, something autochthone, something that Gob Squad would always echo, but hardly ever experience first-hand, being its distant cousin. European experiences of America, if not experienced first-hand, come mediated through television, products, and behaviors of Americans.

Now, here, in Jessica’s work, we are witnessing West Coast art at its source: between camp and genuine exposure, all in trust in collective power and renewal.  

I remember how much “California dreaming” I heard on my parents’ old records meant to me in my never-ending formative years, and how much I dreamed about those far away worlds where someone like Annie could leave someone like Alvy through glorious sunglasses in some place like Sunset Plaza in West Hollywood, close to the desert where Oliver Stone’s Doors walked high on mushrooms.

West Coast is where you go to go away. A desert opening itself up to possibilities to be dreamed about for one to go away. There is something magical in it, something that no other place has: a possibility to blend yourself with your finality and hopefulness. If there is a place where Earth’s end touches heaven, it easily might be here. I tasted that flair in J-Jo’s piece last Thursday.

 “The whole world over, we eat, we shit, we fuck, we kill, and we die.”

 “But we also fall in love, we build cities, we compose symphonies, and we endure.”