Trusting the Accident

Sat, 08/04/2007 - 4:53am

Greg and Michael, my hosts here in New York, are passionate collectors of contemporary art. They've designed their home to showcase it. These pictures do nothing to capture the experience of being here, but they'll give you an idea:

Here's the guest room, where I've been staying:

There's so much to stimulate the imagination. In addition to being a dream place to stay in New York, it's an ideal place to write. Last week I had the good fortune to be here during an installation. Greg wanted to change several paintings and a sculpture for a party he threw. Two men showed up with what must've been six hockey-sized duffel bags, unloaded compartmentalized carrying cases of every imaginable size and style of nut, bolt, and screw. With wire and filament and power-tools they rotated several paintings and sculptures. It was a compelling process to witness. Of course I drew correlations to writing and revision. The curator is the editor of the anthology. The installation men the line editors.   

One of my favorite artists they collect is Marilyn Minter. I saw her work for the first time at a relatively recent show at the SF MOMA. It blew my mind. It was her first solo museum show. Here's how the MOMA described it: "Minter's work examines the relationships between the body, photography, and painting, tapping into cultural anxieties about sexuality and desire. This exhibition focuses on her recent works, hyperrealistic close-ups of makeup-laden lips, eyes, and toes, whose luscious colors, glossy surfaces, and immediate subject matter are both seductive and disturbing. While Minter's images mimic fashion advertising with alarming veracity, her exaggerated gestures subvert it, exposing the pleasures and dangers of glamor."

Greg's passion for art propelled him to start a publishing company in 2004. Here is his company's mission statement: "Our books aim not only to enhance our understanding and appreciation of art but also to make a contribution to the broader cultural duologue of which contemporary art is an essential part. We publish books by and about contemporary artists at all stages of their careers, from emerging to established, with a particular focus on artists whose work can be ideally represented in book form. The writers who contribute to the books we publish are vital to the publications, and their writings are often integrally combined with the images and artworks contained in the books." His most recent book, which is GORGEOUS, is one on Marilyn Minter. Here's the cover: 

Minter recently finished a project. She shot photographs of Pamela Anderson, introducing the viewer to an image of her which conveys something so much deeper than I've seen before. They're published a different art book called Parkett. In a conversation with the editor about Minter's project, the artist said that she prepares and prepares the set up, but then she'll change it when she starts shooting so that she can "get something" she's "not even aware of." I've been thinking about these lines in the interview: 

"I want...magic to happen. I want surprise. I want the accident. I want to trust it. I trust the accident...It's where the process of discovery happens." 

As I study this city and engage myself in the experiences that I'd hoped would inform my novel, I'm discovering that instead of nailing the detail I'd hoped to find to fill in some section of my book (which I've worked hard to prepare), I'm accidentally stumbling upon things completely unexpected, both internally and externally, that are changing the course of the novel. While this is a bit overwhelming, I trust it.