When I first saw this artwork a few days ago, I couldn't help but be reminded of Archimboldo, though Archimboldo's compositions are built of more organic elements.
Genesis P-Orridge — now there's a name that takes me back — has an exhibition on at New York's Invisible-Exports Gallery until October 18, 2009. In an interview for The Morning News, Genesis P-Orridge cites his (and I use all pronouns herein loosely) discovery of Max Ernst and the art of cut-ups as kind of an epiphany.
(He talks also of a Sacred Geometry, which also brings to mind certain aspects of 2666. I wonder if one could assess 2666 in terms of cut-up or collage art...)
I can't say I'm particularly impressed by the art in this exhibition, but it's the intro to the interview that brought some hazy, near-20-year-old memories into focus. Apparently Genesis isn't a big fan of email interviews, as they take on the semblance of school assignments, so we are treated instead to about 3000 words explicating his concept. I recall Genesis having a peculiar attitude toward live interviews as well.
It was when Chris came up to see me for a couple days, and he brought his girlfriend, which was a bit odd, cuz I thought he liked me, but I guess this meant he didn't, which was for the best really. And it was all very spontaneous and all because of the Psychic TV show that night. The show had played the night before in Kingston — Chris had seen them and wanted to get an interview for his radio show, but he hadn't managed, so he came up to Ottawa looking for another chance. So Chris and — oh, I can't for the life of me remember her name...
Anyway, they show up on my doorstep mid-afternoon, (was I even working then? I couldn't've been studying... was it summer?) and I had a ticket for the show already (and I am so psyched — I'd had a ticket for their show the year before, but they cancelled), and the venue was just a 5-minute walk up the street, so we check it out straight away but nobody comes to the door and we can't figure out the back way, so we go for a beer across the street. And then we cross back over — it's still late afternoon, and it's really sunny — and we bang on the door, and then we bang on the door some more, and we ask around in the groundfloor bar (a separate and distinct establishment from the concert venue) but the inner adjoining door shows no signs of opening, so we go back out to the door on the street and bang some more, and after about 10 minutes someone comes to see what the racket's all about. Chris asks about the band, has the band arrived?, he'd love to get an interview, do you think he could have an interview? The guy tells us to hold on, he'll be right back. And a couple minutes later, Genesis P-Orridge opens up the door, and Chris tells him he loved the show in Kingston last night and does he have a few minutes for an interview. And Genesis says, no, he doesn't really feel like an interview, what he really feels like is a cheese sandwich, and the late afternoon sun is shining straight in his eyes, and his head is all fleshy and wet. And he thinks about it for a few seconds and tells Chris he'll give him an interview if he can bring him a cheese sandwich, and he closes the door and the three of us just stand there, not quite sure what to make of this.
And then their eyes turn on me, because I live there, and if anybody would, I should know where we could get a cheese sandwich. But when's the last time I ever had a cheese sandwich? So we check the adjoining bar, but the only food they have is those little packets of potato chips. We go back across the street to the pub, and the waitress says, do you mean like a grilled cheese? We just stand there looking at each other, we don't know, and we start to dissect our encounter; if Genesis P-Orridge meant a grilled cheese sandwich he would've said a grilled cheese sandwich, but then too, he's British, and we wonder whether the default semantics of a British cheese sandwich implied that it was grilled. I don't know why exactly, but we finally decide, no, he couldn't possibly want his sandwich grilled. I suggest we check out the bistro café on the corner — they serve a lovely bacon-tomato-cheese melt, but there's that melt factor again, which while it doesn't strictly speaking mean "grilled," it deviates from the default semantics we've already settled on. Besides which it was on a croissant, and we're all agreed this was an error on the side of too fancy and wouldn't do at all.
I run down the list of possible eateries on this stretch of street. There's the Spanish place, Indian, Moroccan, another pub, there's a Greek place too but that's already drifting further off than we'd like, and I can't think of anything appropriately deli-like, apart from the place in the market that I reserve for a Saturday afternoon excursion; that is, for this here and now and with our pressing need, it's too far away. I shrug my shoulders, why don't we just pick up some stuff at the grocery? it's just on the next corner.
So we pool our cash and pick out some nice fresh kaiser rolls, and some kind of wheat bread, and a slab of cheddar, some camembert, and some spiced gouda, and a head of lettuce, and a jar of pickles, and some paper plates and napkins, and a knife, and one of them say we need butter too but I don't understand why anyone would put butter on a cheese sandwich. And we head back to the hall and bang on the door some more. The same guy finally pokes his head around, we exclaim happily that we have cheese sandwiches! or at least the makings thereof! And he should let us in cuz Genesis P-Orridge said it was OK. So he does, and we bound upstairs, say hi to the band and spread out our bounty on the first table that presents itself. Genesis's face (and we all feel we're on a first-name basis now) radiates glee, and someone offers us a beer. Chris sets up his tape deck and I set about making sandwiches, I don't know what Jen's doing (that's her name — Jen!) but she's all tough and cool, pierced and tattooed, I think maybe she just starts making out with one of the guys, I don't know, and before you know it we're all really — I mean really — stoned and pretty happy about the whole thing, especially the wondrous and varied cheese sandwiches.
The show itself was pretty anticlimactic, although we did all get to dance onstage, toward thee infinite beat.