Some remarks before I make the video

Hi Deza, 

I’ve been thinking about something and I’d like to share it. Perhaps these are thoughts that go into the production of a short video clip. While I don’t pretend to know how to edit such a thing, and barely know how to turn my camera on (something I don’t often do for skypes). I don’t like to give away my ‘eye power’ so much. 


I wanted to start with something I recently read. In Nicolas Bourriaud’s Relational Art, one of his citations suggest that an artist will often attract attention to her/his/their self in order to then re-direct it somewhere else. Without re-reading or reading into the statement too much, I get it. Given my interest in art history, it is quite easy to think up of various incidences and artists to which this idea pertains.


At times I jokingly refer to myself as crazy. I do this because I realize that some people I encounter find me that way. I do this with humor to ‘put it aside’ .. to confirm my hunch that they think so, and move on. 


I like crazy ideas, and so I don’t dismiss crazy or wild approaches in general. One sometimes needs a touch skin for them. Like what I mean here is that I don’t personally avoid people who I find difficult. I avoid them if I don’t like them, but not due to difficulty. I must have some magnet in my heart. I return to them. I often want to understand what is being communicated by a stance, style, approach, attitude, bombast and/or provocation. 


What I don’t do is to completely ‘overlap’ or conflate the notion of being crazy with the ‘rule book’ of crazy. I suffer from depression and some manic rebounds. I’ve been steadily medicated for this for some time. I have seen these things in my father. My brother and I are the next versions of our dad. This has always needed tending too. This chain of depression that seems genetically coded into our existence did not just come up in my dad’s generation. His uncle shot himself in the barn in the head. His father and my grandfather had other ways of expressing some sort of dark and difficult tendency. He died fairly young too. 


After contracting HIV, there were general stigmas that I faced, but too I needed to figure out the next wave of family engagement, and what this new development might mean. Needless to say, it gets a slightly different reception than my brother’s Type-2 Diabetes or the onset of Multiple Sclerosis in another close family member.


I am not so naive to have imagined that chronic diseases would not be weighted for family (and religious) relations. Did I mention I’m from a cattle, horse and crop farm in a part of the South (US) referred to as the ‘bible belt’. 


So with the added ‘stress’ of HIV, I have decided to share some thoughts on the collision of two things considered ‘chronic’ in me: HIV and severe depression.


I recently watched the David Letterman special with Kanye West. West was talking about having ‘bipolar disorder’ and got right up to the point (in discussion with Dave) of considering his own creativity in relation to his mental ‘standing’. Sometime this year I saw the last Daniel Day-Lewis film, Phantom Thread. He played a perfectionist tailor. Around that time he said he would not star in more films, explaining that lately he has a hard time coming out of role. He alluded to artistic process and mental state. 


Just this past week, I received some feedback that I’d ‘come on too strong with someone’. And the reason I have to pay attention to this is because ‘coming on too strong’ is not necessarily about disagreeing. What I realize in making art is that this very ‘energy’ I refer to is a part of the things I make and sometimes why they don’t get made. 


So, learning how to ‘deploy’ the energy / enthusiasm to the right target is something I work on. And, too, I don’t always try to control myself. 


Deza, when we first talked about your CHAOS project, I remember you mentioning some statistics you had that showed how people who have a lot of energy (or an extraordinary style) are avoided in social settings. 


Ha, I think I’ve experienced that a few dozen times:)


And, while I’m just me (experiencing me), I wanted to suggest that we are aware of these avoidances. That sometimes there is a comfort in being oneself regardless of the reaction. 


And, speaking as an artist, there are sometimes when we draw inspiration from or action by this special energy. 


What I needed to learn from my family (before or during learning how to be an artist) is that talking is better than not talking. Bottling things up is somehow deadly in my experience. 


By the way, I believe everything I’m saying to you … as much as I do the fact that I take a pharmacological solution pill each day to help manage … energy.


xo

todd


PS, I’ll have a version of the LUV game in French by October 25th for an Ankh Association event. I hope you will find a way to use it too for CHAOS!!

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