Friday, October 07, 2005

David-Baptiste Chirot re-masked

Geof Huth has removed the text from his recent post about David-Baptiste Chirot that I, along with a number of others, had commented favourably on & linked to.

He gives as his reasons:
“My apologies to David Baptiste Chirot. He has some serious concerns about the posting I made about him and his work a couple of days ago. Because these concerns grew out of counter-assumptions each of us had made, I feel a deep responsibility to address his concerns, so I'm taking down all of my words about him for that day, but leaving up the images for now.

“Let me be clear, to David and everyone else, that I meant no offense to David and thought I had clarified everything I was going to do sufficiently before hitting the "publish" button. But I obviously have not. I do want to revive, however, as much of my original text as possible, because it was a celebration of David and his work, one that I worked on for many hours, one that filled me with emotion, and one that I think does him a little justice for his art.

“David and I will work out any errors of fact and other changes, and see what we can do.”
Whether Geof did include “errors of fact” or whether it was David-Baptiste reacting to seeing his words, or an interpretation of his words, in the cold light of day we won’t know until the revised post reappears.

But I also received an email from a friend about my comment on Geof’s post.
“I also wanted to say that I liked the Geof Huth piece on David-Baptiste Chirot, but I found it a bit too romantic…… the hard life of the street as a place to find yourself and your art. It reminds me of some of the comments about the Dylan PBS piece. Some people seem, at least to me, to have this romantic attachment to his earlier history as if it was some sort of mythological dream. I don't know. If Dylan or David-Baptiste were just written about like they were regular folks would any of us have any interest in them? So I guess the question is, is Geof doing David-Baptiste a favor by writing about him in this way?”
It is the perennial question. How much does our knowing or knowing about a person influence, improperly or otherwise, our opinion of them as an artist?

& the reciprocal. How much of your past do you reveal? I have been open in there-for-posterity interviews in print & on radio, but there are aspects of my life that I don’t talk about in everyday conversation. That they have had a major impact on who I am is beyond question, but how much they have influenced or provided subject matter for my writing I cannot – or will not – say.

I maintain a public persona for convenience. Its history is full of gaps, but, in the main, it lets the writing speak for itself. Though I'm not remiss in leaving a few bits here & there to garnish the image.


Martin Edmond said...

It's a vexed question. Just fielded a letter from the mother of an artist whose work I helped curate into a show last year. She objected to the biographical writing on her son in the catalogue. My co-curator, who wrote the bio in question, referred her to me on the advice that I'm responsible for what was written there. I'm not, but in another way I am. He's dead ... the artist I mean ... so can't speak. He once said he'd be buried 'in a coffin full of words'. My impulse is to stand by what I wrote. But to stand by what someone else wrote? Or just to stand by? It can be confronting to see a simulacrum of a self in someone else's words. I read the Geof Huth piece and I'm glad I did but ... not really surprised that David-Baptiste Chirot wasn't happy. It was as if he stood naked in a clothed room.

mark young said...

But even the president of the United States
sometimes must have
to stand naked


villon said...

I have apologized to Geof Huth for my own reasons and would like much to see th piece back up. Geof did a loto f hard work on it and i deeply respect his knoweldge and insights on anything to do with visual poetry. I am grateful that he has always supported my work and been so generous towards it.
It is true that there are facts and myths of artists' lives which may be arrnaged in so many ways and every person wil view this differently. The attention an artist might receive may intially even have to do with the myth. I c o managed a new used rare record store for six years in the 1980's. The music buying world is so full of myths and legends and what i called "lore" that many things are valued and have interest to someone simply because they haerd that "hey man so and so was a junkie and he went to jai. That's tight man" Immediately the record sells based on that alone. The dude must be authentic right? Take Johnny Thunders--how mnay bad records didnt he sel on that "too much junky business" image alone? How many shows did he plat where the audeince came to see if he would show up and if did what shape he was in. Would he nod off onstage or just plain drop dead? Or balst away with some really great rock and roll. And how many good ones might be overlooked for the same reason?--That he's just some junkie.
I realized that i think the reader knows thisi s geof's vision of things and will read it knowng that this is one person's understanding, while the artiat's one idea or someone else's idea might be quite other. They say that biography is a form of murder and autobiography a form of suicide. Or autobiography as the story of major change--a revelation--moment of clarity--"once i was a sinner and now i am saved--and here are both stories so you know the power that saved me."
I talked with sme of my friends, fellows--one way to see things is that for evertyhing the person has been through, they kept returning to their art work and wirting. These in turn kep the person alive. In the end the two have become one--and where they exist is in the works. I know when i am working in a way i have no story none at all. The only sotry i am aware of is the one hpanieng in this moment, the excitementof that in the found, the unexpected, All i know is i am listeing to that which is, an other calls to this other. So much of what happens are such small things. Suddenly one saw something due to a change in the slant of light that oe had not seen there before.The way the light is--the curve of the dirt arund a rock. Knowing something is callling in one place and has its replies in another. The thousand smal things on enotices each time one makes amakr how it relates with others and how it is also this one now, new often enough, one finds continauly so much in contnual flow of these small things. An immensity opens up and one walks in to it. One is enegaed in shop talk with the materilas as they work back and forth with one. An other language in thei life. This engagemnet is so much one's life. So much happens as an other story, where themateials and oneself are realy living and working together. Inside of there the other life may be in the process of change, ever flowing, yet now given into an other way. People wil make what they wil with life and works, that happens to everyone. If the interpretationis made by another, al one has to know is that is the person's own idea that is being presented. Many myths or ideaof aperson are made this way. Personally i feel that very little of the facts of the life have much to do for me with what i make. The fcats which makes up the things in an artits' life inerlife--are things often very obscure and samll. tehy take placein side a story which is told in an other way. That story at times is not even one's
"own" story. As an artist, as myself , i think one begins to learn that there is an immensity of loneliness even i themidst of so many. The loneliness went for a wlak andbgan to find the work. when others come to the work and the prson, onelerasn that people lie on or both often for reasons one doesn't underatnd. The main thing is once in a very great while some one does recongize what is in there where the artist the life and the work are come togetehr and arranged into something other. A thousand secrets and a million lonelinesses go into a moment when one is truly seen and known. One begins to realize to be thank ful to those who do find things there and feel it brings something to them. If the loneliness in oneself may bring something from that otehr that which is t tothers, then what is the best to know people found things there for themsleves. On the part of myself, speaking on part of myself, i do not know why one timeone s solonely and then the next oneis simply part of that which is andlost in the ecstasy of being alive in the creation and then to be able to make something of thanks for this. For a few moments one has most truly been. It takes a lifetime to make each stroke and to have them begin to mean what is there in themselves, these materials one has found and that have found oneself that is one's life, one's story. All the rest often seems far away. I believe to more live into understanding, one has more and more to let go of all that was anyselves one had along the way and they were a great many, a whole gallery of characters. I dontmean this from a pholopshy or religionor any of those. It is smething one finds and begins to move and live with. It has been a hard and far more brutal story than one is going to recount. Brutality and beauty one learns may meet iiin amoment. To live with this brutality in one's soul and to live also with beauty. I have found a way for things i did not know could be conveyed to be conveyed. All mylife i ahd hoped for this. Then for along time one feels, it just wont ever happen. in the old stories the poet had to go the underworld to come back with the vision of beauty, life. Even in slowing coming back, shards of darkness cling to one. A movement towards the light, and daknreeses that come and go. Maybe they wil never end, simply grow less dark--and at he same time the light islving htere energy--the story is that no matter what one has found a way to continue that is its own way that ismaking its way, there are no supports to come to one in any things outside of this. No philophies no religions not theories no formula. One must listen into the time of the being of things--into that which is--and find the marks to express that which is, in a wind of passing. It isnt something one even knows, it has no name. Yet one feels it it is there andone hhopes in find ways to be able to express this in a way ionwhich it does speak to others, of whatthey hear in it, then one finds that one hasnt lived in vain but found a way to live into life. The loneliness may never end, yet to find some way to bring something other to others is a way to not be locked inside loneliness, but be able to have something to give, a thanks. whatever in the end is said of one and one's life--on hopes aong others this brings something of meaning to them. There is a meaning but this i cannot say, i can only give you these pieceso f evidence. For myself i amnot amythical ifgure or waniting to be alegend etc. The main thing is to keep working andlet nothing stand in the way, for each day one climbs mounatins crosses desrts swims ocean and mosimeensley confronts an abyss. To be at this edge and not go over, to be able to keep walking and working. that to me is the story. It isnt easy much of the time. not easy at all at all. Yet it is the way one has to go, one put oneself here, now what can one do from here? One must face a chalnge and be ready to accept that which is going to happen, accept the consequences. One does this so as to keep moving with and into the hapening which is all around one and all inside . The real happening is there, where the works and the person meet in the u canny rcongiton and then the works begins, and in the happening comes al sorts of things which are realy the humor and joy of being, things onlyone finds and knows and begins to laugh with. My droll companions, fellow members of the peanut gallery at the guignol for all we know! People write of one--if it brings some joy of the works in themselves in the end, that is the main thing. That is the best thing. It is always suc happines to find the works find people who care for them. I am realy for them that this happens. I am so happy that what i saw and felt i was able to convey in company with the things. to know one has signed and the signing being seen, is the greatest thing, when these have come out of theloneliness to find some cmpany and be welcomne there for a while. "I do not seek, i find"--more and more it hink on this from Picasso. To find is to be living in an oher world and when others mya find ones' work, the signs of finding, may they also enter into the found.
I belive and know it is here an hiden in plain sight. And these found things to open worlds for you--and you --and you--
i hope that with things arranged of ocurse that he piece be back up. allone needs to know is that this is geof's perception of things. myself i wd talk abt a lot oft hings right now about grians in wood i have become obssesed with and the poetry of pierre reverdy. living with my housemates here making cornbread the sun light listening to blind willie johnson. and shortly to go back out to my motifs to keep working and walking. that is al there is, to keep moving into the found and trust in what is there to be found.
"everybody out to treat a stranger right, that's a long way from home"

6 years and theowlrd ofWhat public person might one want to have for oneself?