Sunday, February 26, 2006

Separation Anxiety, Part II

I had to get out. I spend all week experiencing life vicariously through a glowing rectangle, and I’d let my apartment talk me into doing it some more on Saturday. Even though the outside world was full of blustering winds and bald-faced bullshitters, I was coming to empathize with Howard Hughes all too well.

After a lot of cajoling and wheedling, my apartment finally released its hold on my brain, pulling the ceiling back to its proper place and letting me see the door again. I knew I was going to pay for my insolent independence all night as the apartment pouted and clanked the radiators in retribution, but a man needs a social life.

I prised myself out into the cold night and down 16th street. The world seemed new and fresh, sounding bright and powerful. I could hear everything so clearly – firsthand experiences collided against my face, made tender by a week of vicarious living via internet abuse. Screams and car horns were positively musical, and auto exhaust felt like honeysuckle perfume.

I met up with a real, 3-d, non-internet related friend at an art opening, and here’s how it went:

Afterwar is a collection of color photos by Lori Grinker, now showing at the Project 4 Gallery. The artist spent fifteen years documenting the impact of war in dozens of countries, and the body of work is powerful, painful, and massive. There are images of amputees, victims of chemical weaponry, child soldiers and a twelve-year old African boy that knows the psychology of killing way too well.

Each portrait is accompanied by a story told in the subject’s own words. All of the stories make you want to cry in a wide variety of ways that nevertheless do not include tears of joy.

I spend so much time craving experiences that are real, something that plucks me out of my bourgeois existence in DC and smack into the continuum of real life…but I think that if I were to take the photos Grinker did, I might go a little too insane.

The juxtaposition of the art-opening crowd under images of war-wrought suffering was too much. Nobody can help who they are, or what their reality is, and I’m not saying it’s a bad thing here... but it was just so weird seeing everyone air-kiss and chug cups of art-gallery wine while saying “oh, I know what you mean. Her work is so real.

I mean, they were right. It is real, too real... but man, that was weird.

AfterWar, by Lori Grinker: Opening at Project 4 Gallery


At 8:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed, Jeff. However, I spotted you in the corner having a long chat with an animated, Amazonian red head. and that conversation continued even when her escort re-appeared. and there was an exchange of notes. That seemed real, and hopefully not weird!


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