There is a moment when you know it’s over. That his proximity disgusts you. That no amount of love can disguise what was or what could be. These photographs were taken at the moment, the moment I knew for sure. The fast train to Paris from Cannes. A beautiful boy sat opposite me and I wanted to ravish him. I couldn’t wait to say goodbye to the loved one. Yet, I knew, the moment we parted I would not stop thinking of him. From the moment I woke up to the moment I fell into a fitful sleep. Gone, the door slammed. He was dead to me long before I made it impossible for him to do anything but take drastic measures. It was the worst kind of grief because nobody died…
My days are split between the remarkable and the absurd. Bloated with new experiences, extraordinary adventures and, of course, passion.
Every day unfolds like a new napkin.
From dawn I write and rewrite. I am determined and hungry, inspired by the 75-year-old man who won the Palme D’Or in Cannes this year.
On Thursday I stood in front of the Men’s County Jail with a disparate bunch of men and women denouncing the secure communities protocol, the very same protocol that illegally incarcerated me. A press conference for the Spanish press.
The only Anglo Saxon, the only non spanish speaker.
They hailed me and the other people called to testify. ‘Viva Duncan!’ they shout together. I am moved to tears.
Nobody I know cares about these people. Not least my gay ‘friends’ who savage me publicly for standing shoulder to shoulder with day workers, maids and gardeners who face daily threats of deportation and police harassment.
The writing and photography give my life meaning and hope. The immigrants, of whom I am one, better shape my understanding of the world.
I am not interested in what I wear. I’m sure I look like a hobo. My beautiful tailored shirts are shredded. I have no interest in replacing them.
All the vintage Helmut Lang has been sold.
I can cobble together an ensemble for dinner. I look respectable enough.
Last week a young gay man told me I was lonely and sad. I feel neither. In fact, I have never felt so complete.
Let’s not forget shall we that I was nominated for a BAFTA for my film AKA. However insane you might think me now…there was a time when I could get things done and to a certain extent I still can. I only mention this because some people would like to forget that it ever happened…rendering me and my life utterly useless.
So, I decided to fetch out all of my awards put them on my desk.
Last day of the vile tasting chinese herbal medicine yesterday. No more foul-smelling pee.
There seems to be a small window of creative opportunity that I can mine the first thing in the morning. Just after I have had my coffee. If I am lucky I can spin this into a day of writing. If I fail to act then I tend not to write a thing.
I bought a small publication at The New Museum called For Lonely Adults Only. A pictorial diary by Regis Trigano. It is very beautiful. Documenting this gay artists various hookups.
I feel sad.
Set adrift in an ocean of self-pity. FUCK!
I am often asked where one can buy my version of Dorian Gray. Well, we only really played it at festivals. When the cast becomes more famous (as they are doing) we may very well release it. It is proving nicely. One day it will be released.
I am in LA. At the house. Another huge rattle snake in the garden resting on the step. I hit it with spade but it slithered away. Thankfully the Little Dog didn’t see it. He may very well have chased it.
The twins are a joy. So sweet to me. The house was perfectly well-kept when I got home. The larder well stocked and the fridge full of things I would never eat but hey ho.
Sharon S came by and I made cauliflower cheese and pasta ripiena. The twins need to learn how to cook. I taught them how to make a roux then showed then how to turn that into a delicious cheese sauce. They don’t even know how to boil pasta! Miles makes the most inedible, lumpy, often burned scrambled egg.
I forced them to watch Rachel Maddow. They are self-proclaimed born again christian republicans. Once they understand what is really going on they are amazed at how the world really is.
One of them said, “Obama is trying to cut funding for education.” No, I grimaced, he’s not.
The other said, “Is there a Republican Rachel Maddow?” I balked.
I think that they were anti-abortion. Hmmm. Not for much longer. I feel like Socrates corrupting the youth of Greece. Let’s hope that I don’t end up like him. Oh why not?
This is great! Please listen to this lecture from the good people at TED.
I thought that you might enjoy this picture as much as I enjoyed creating it. Inspired by Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn. My Hasidic Easter Bonnet.
Spent yesterday planning my trip to Cannes. Of course, I love Cannes when everyone is there for the film festival. I am deliberately revisiting all the places that we visited together so that I can expunge him from the memory of the locale.
As NYC becomes less emblematic of those painful days with him and more joyful as I remake this city with the other. The streets are no longer associated with those miserable days of fruitless longing.
The sunshine is mine and mine alone. I love the streets!
Could you imagine anything more ghastly than sitting in an office day after day for thirty years with minimal vacation? Looking forward to retirement? Eww.
My therapist and I are planning my escape. An escape that will include the possibility of a return to what I used to enjoy: peace of mind.
On Saturday morning I saw a young mother drop her baby on its face. The baby was fine. Mainly made of gristle they are more resilient than they look. Sturdy little things. The young mother, more from embarrassment, screamed out “My baby!” The restaurant hushed, her other child started crying, her own mother with whom she was having breakfast, sat immobilized by fear. There was, however, something about her scream that reminded me about the moment the Big Dog was hit by the truck.
The trauma associated with that ghastly moment lives with me, shapes my thinking and holds me hostage to the notion that I must never be hurt like that again.
When we were interviewing old people last month we met an old man who told us that he couldn’t own pets any longer because he fears the depth of emotional pain that comes with a beloved pets death.
I know what he means. The pain felt around the death of anything you love, the loss of anything one cares about (as one gets older) is without parallel.
In many ways I am more numb now than I have ever been. Less able to feel for fear of being badly hurt. How could I have got this far without…and then I thought back. I remembered the excruciating pain of being dropped again and again as a small baby/infant/child. Suck it up Duncan.
Sunday. Birthday party with friends. I ate too much cake. I was wearing a lilac cashmere sweater that garnered some reaction. “That’s risky.” A rather bland looking woman commentated. I smiled and thanked her as if she had just complimented me.
The baby was fine. A little redness on the forehead but after a few moments of crying he/she was smiling and gurgling.
Incidentally, after all my Jay Jopling bashing for not being political there is a show at Mason’s Yard called NEW ORDER that looks very promising. This work looks very impressive though a little austere. Where is Max Beckmann when you need him?
I am desperate to see this. I hope it is as subversive as it looks.
I have included the gallery’s incredibly verbose description below. Who writes this shit? Look at the way they over use/mis-use the word polemical.
Masons Yard 8 Apr—14 May 2011
‘The dream of a suitable political work of art is in fact the dream of disrupting the relationship between the visible, the sayable, and the thinkable without having to use the terms of a message as a vehicle.’
Jacques Rancière, ‘The Aesthetics of Politics’ (2006)
The relationship between aesthetics and politics has been a polemical issue for much of the history of art. In particular, the late twentieth century saw an overt politicisation of critical discourse amidst collapsing colonial hegemonies, global wars and the emergence of civil rights movements across the world. This was coupled with artists questioning the principles of modernism opening up the debate as to what constituted a work of art. A number of key figures emerged on the international art scene, whose practice specifically dealt with issues of power structures, race, injustice, gender and dissent. The works featured in ‘New Order‘ share a focus on the transformation of social or ideological structures that shape experience, and in different ways they explore existing communal, political and physical constructs of the everyday.
The formal geometry and commonplace materials of Miroslaw Balka‘s ‘Kategorie’ (2005) lend the work a pared-down aesthetic generally connected with Minimalist and Conceptual art. A six-metre long, two-metre high tunnel is interrupted by five fine coloured threads, suspended from rotating motors on the ceiling. The work is rich in associative historical and political references, such as the traumatic memory of wartime atrocities in his native Poland which Balka has addressed throughout his practice. The colours of the strands – red, violet, green, pink and black – are the colours assigned to uniforms identifying different categories of prisoner in the concentration camps (red for political prisoners; violet for Jehovah’s Witnesses; green for criminals; pink for homosexual and bisexual men; and black for Romany people, alcoholics and individuals with learning disabilities, among others).
Part of Doris Salcedo‘s ongoing series in which found domestic furniture is used as a vehicle to explore the traumatic political history of her native Colombia, ‘Untitled’ (2008) features tables and wardrobes, conjoined and partially entombed in concrete. The re-assembled components of the hybrid form of the sculpture, each through use embedded with a material history, function as silent witnesses to implied personal and collective narratives.
Rooted in black urban experience, David Hammons‘ practice comments on the iniquities present within social, political and economic systems. Critiquing the relationship between high art and the street, his sculptures often feature found objects laden with cultural association. Hair clippings swept from the floor of a Harlem barbershop are fashioned into a cornrow hairstyle upon a smooth oval rock in ‘Rock Head’ (2000), while in ‘Which Mike Would You Like to Be Like?’ (2001), Hammons takes three vintage microphones that serve as surrogates for three prominent figures in recent popular culture – Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson and Michael Jordan – referencing the limited range of role models for young African-American men.
The densely-layered, collaged paintings of Mark Bradford also incorporate materials salvaged from an urban setting, including torn bill posters or newsprint. The abstract compositions reference alternative cartographies that burgeon within cities, such as the spread of an economic underclass, the movement of immigrant communities and race relations. In ‘Strange Fruit’ (2011), fragments of text drawn from the local ‘merchant posters’ Bradford frequently uses echo across the painting, while the title is taken from the protest song about the lynching of African-Americans in the 1930s, sung by Billie Holiday.
In Julie Mehretu’s ‘Mumbo Jumbo’ (2008), a swirling vortex of shapes and marks on a grey ground, overlaid with architectural passages, give the sense of a gathering storm. Made on the occasion of the inaugural New Orleans Biennial in 2008, the painting conveys the destructive power of uncontrollable nature within a stricken cityscape, mired in bureaucratic chaos.
In 1969, Anselm Kiefer photographed himself in a variety of imposing locations (often in settings evocative of German Romantic imagery) making the Nazi salute. The resulting series, entitled ‘Besetzungen’ (‘Occupations’), provocatively confronted the blanking out of history and questioned the collective guilt of an entire post-war generation in Germany. In the works presented in the current exhibition, ‘Heroische Sinnbilder’ (2011), Kiefer revisits the iconography of his own art history, as a means of investigating the resonance of totalitarian symbols across the passage of time.
The final day of my holiday with the mysterious travelling companion. We are staying in Cannes then will make our way home tomorrow. Will update you all on the tone of the past few days when I get some space between the adventure and me.
We arrived in Cannes yesterday afternoon. Last night I ate salad Nicoise in a small brasserie behind the Majestic that I enjoy whenever I have been here for the film festival.
The last time I was here was when Suzanna and I rented that house in Seillans. I had driven to Cannes to take Dicky to the station curtailing his time with us. After a walk around the harbor he decided to stay. Now, THAT vacation was hard. Surly children, love affairs and God knows what. From what I can remember, I seem to have paid for the lions share of that holiday…for eight people!
Cannes, here we are again. We chanced upon Suites Hotel on the Blvd Camot. It’s like a hotel from the future! The bed linen is really crisp and expensive feeling, the room is huge and well laid out and the bathroom and toilet have a pod like quality. It might be described as flexible accommodation. There are Japanese type raffia screens that divide the room if so required and even though the colors and fixtures are not to my taste it is incredibly comfortable and ergonomic. The television moves around on wheels, there are a desk and a daybed.
Our room in Canadel at the Hotel de la Plage looked much nicer than it turned out to be. The bed was uncomfortable, the room was noisy and the breakfast unbelievably expensive and not, as we first thought, included in the price. Consequently, we paid eighteen Euros for a basket of bread. The day before I had spent only twenty Euros in the market feeding us both for the entire day.
I have really enjoyed the last week here in France more than our time in London, mostly because everything, apart from Cannes and St Tropez, was new and unusual. Showing someone around your life can have its drawbacks.
Yesterday, on our way to Cannes from Canadel-sur-mer we spontaneously stopped off at a cliff overlooking a small bay. We scrambled through the brush over hot red stone to a rocky outcrop and swam in crystal clear waters. The little dog watched from a shady ledge. The sea was teaming with tiny, silver fish skimming the surface looking for food.
You know, there were times when I was with JBC, toward the end of our 7 years together, when we would find ourselves in some remote, beautiful place and I would hanker to be with someone I truly loved. That this maybe beautiful but to make it perfect one must share the moment with a man that I loved.
There is something dismal about looking at a wonderful view and not have a lover by your side. I think, during this past week, we may both have felt that. To be with someone familiar, hopeful and in love.
We did not stop for lunch after the swim so by 5ish I was exhausted and desperate for water. At moments like these I feel like I may have become Uncle Monty from Withnail and I. Monty, the tenacious old queen who pursues Withnail with gay gusto. Example: the day before yesterday the car had been laden with food to eat and water to drink. Yesterday, with the companion in charge, the cupboard was bare. Instead of just buying more food I sort of expected my companion to think ahead and do as I do. To no avail. A sticky wicket that one..expecting.
Like leaving your fingers in the car door to prove how selfish someone is when they squish them.
Do you know the film Withnail and I? It used to be a cult film. Uncle Monty arrives in the freezing country cottage where Withnail and his friend have escaped from London. They have no money; unable to light a fire, nothing to eat and both look utterly miserable. Within seconds of Monty’s arrival the table is groaning with food, the fires are roaring in the hearth and the lighting is perfect.
Unlike Monty, and men like him, I have a limited desire to provide and make perfect day after day. I foolishly expect him to think ahead when he just can’t. It is not in his nature. It’s not his fault. You see, I have a fantasy that includes being looked after as well as I look after him or others. It is a fantasy, it is unachievable, and it is my role and my role alone. I have only myself to blame when even the most simple of expectations remain unfulfilled. If I want water in the car then I must buy it, if I want delicious food then I must go to the market.
As vacations draw to a close there is the inescapable dread of going home. We return to very different scenarios. He climbs back into the bosom of his family with yet another vacation and I will peel off elsewhere to make something happen with that extended family of AA men and women who have become my solace.