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Pérez Art Museum

   


A young friend of ours, Whitney Martishius, recently saw an art piece that I created for the Miami Art Museum (now the Pérez Art Museum) hanging on our wall. 

She read it and was greatly moved by it, so much so that I offered to send her a copy. (The actual artwork is about 6 feet by 5 feet, printed on museum-quality white board.)

The piece was part of an exhibition in which the Miami Art Museum combined writers and sculptors. I was paired with the Polish sculptor, Magdalena Abakanowicz (whom I never met, although we corresponded), and at first I hadn't a clue what to do, since her work consists largely of groups of large, obscure, partial human torsos, and is greatly influenced by her childhood experience in Poland of the Nazis during World War II.

I ultimately decided to use her own words, from an interview I read with her, which I cut up and rearranged - "sampling" them in the way that a hip hop artist might sample musical or lyrical phrases (I was very influenced by the French hip hop artist, DJ Cam, at the time). 

I tried to create something between a poem and an imaginary film script, and the result is below. Sadly, my father died during the creation of the piece, so I dedicated it to him.



filmloop/fragments

for my father (sculptor sampling)

magdalena abakanowicz/alexander stuart


(blurrred images
indistinct shadows of arms beating
repeating)

VOICE
But at times
I would pummel her

(breaking upon a human back)

VOICE
I would pummel her with my fists.

(figures moving
strange half-torsos with legs)

VOICE
I was born in the country

(a wide open field)

VOICE
and spent my childhood there.

(in the center of the field is a wooden doorframe)

VOICE
I had no companions of my own age.

(now the half-torsos form an endless parade
on either side of the doorway
lined up waiting to pass
or having passed
through)

VOICE
Everything was immensely important.
All was at one with me.

(a half-torso passes through the doorway
then another
and another)

VOICE
When a baby was born in the village
people came to ask my sister to be
godmother.

(a half-torso passes through the doorway
then another
and another)

VOICE
Because she was lovely.

(etched into each are
tributaries of suffering)

VOICE
She enchanted me too, by her delicate
softness.

(a wide open field)

VOICE
But at times

(indistinct shadows of arms beating
repeating)

VOICE
embittered by my otherness

(breaking upon a human back)

VOICE
I would pummel her
I would pummel her with my fists.

(the arms cease
suddenly a hand
is placed over
a mouth)

VOICE
They came at night, in 1943, drunk.

(there is laughter
and
great sorrow)

VOICE
They bashed at the door. Mother
rushed to open it.

(the half-torsos are running
fleeing)

VOICE
A dumdum bullet tore her right elbow.

(some are burning)

VOICE
I shouted Mama!
Where is Mama?

(the half-torsos
become a forest
a forest of damaged people
constantly moving
burning)

VOICE
My father thought he would be safe.

(suddenly a hand
is placed over
a mouth)

VOICE
Then he was killed by a man from
the village called Bolek.

(a struggle
feathers flying)

VOICE
I had seen farm animals being killed.
I had not thought of it as death, and
with human beings it was the same.

(a headhunters mask)

VOICE
We are all guilty.

(indistinct shadows of arms beating
repeating)

VOICE
We are all innocent.

(a wide open field)

VOICE
We all tremble before death.

(in the center of the field is a wooden doorframe)

VOICE
And find strength in our
deepest suffering.

(a silent, motionless row of half-torsos
lined up
waiting to pass
or having passed
through)

VOICE
I was born in the country and spent my
childhood there.

(a half-torso passes through the doorway
then another
and another)

VOICE
I had no companions of my own age.

(a half-torso passes through the doorway
then another
and another)

VOICE
Everything was immensely important.
All was at one with me.

(there is laughter
and
great sorrow)

VOICE
But at times

(indistinct shadows of arms beating
repeating)

VOICE
embittered by my otherness

(breaking upon a human back)

VOICE
I would pummel her
I would pummel her with my fists.



Copyright © 1997 Alexander Stuart.






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