Preface: I wrote this application in a frenzy some time late in 2015 at the teacher's room where I was a substitute. The Unnamed Residency is just that for privacy reasons, because I do not know if the Residency wants to be named and included in my art and writing, and because it might contain sensitive information about the Residency. I strip at the turn of the tide, but will hesitate to bare you naked too.
I saw you and I knew that you were perfect.
But first, let me tell you a story. Listen-
I spent the Spring of 2014 in New York at a residency program along with a bunch of juniors and seniors from other art schools in the US and Canada. Having no idea the scope or structure of the program, I figured I’d likely be doing what I was already doing: drawing attenuated lines marched up like soldiers on faded Chinese paper. For hours I could sit. It’s rarely a problem for me to be alone.
But I wasn’t alone, and the more time I spent in New York the less time I’d engage with my patience-demanding, back-aching, time-engulfing lines upon lines upon lines upon lines upon lines of ink (my brush had no more than 15 hairs, of that I’m sure). Surely there are still signs of my wear and tear on the communal kitchen and living room in the residency? Photos of the floor before and after we cleaned it, like from black to white? Or, to be honest, from a dark gray to a lighter shade…
We would sit in the kitchen and talk into the late hours of the night, and my studio became sorely neglected. Talking became listening, and I listened all I could, my ears big and red and sore. Economics and New York housing policy and gentrification, art and money and class and art, hashtags and activism and political meetings and panel discussions until something had to come out of me, I would overflow and drown.
Upon returning to my studio I discovered it was a complete mess. Drawings of naked ladies on the wall, big and dirty sheets of fake grass meant for a mini-golf court, marshmallows made out of baby clay and piles upon piles of paper printouts of screenshots taken from Rihanna’s video What Now (I was working with bondage for part of the year).
Dark gray became light gray and walls white. Tables piled into my studio space and I sent out invitations; the first of May two-thousand-and-fourteen the first Unpanel commenced, a somewhat haphazardly constructed (and poorly moderated) roundtable discussion about art and money and collaboration. Many came from Occupy, from alternative educational institutions, from my residency, from art resource centers, from everywhere. It worked well and it totally flopped and I learned a million things from it, but it wasn’t why I came to New York. It became the reason I loved it, and did something no one else had done there before.
The question I’ve been asked is why I’m applying to you, and I told you that my reason is because you are perfect. I told you this story about my time in New York because it was as rich as butter and cream, but not what I planned for it to be. When I first found you about a year ago (right after the deadline had passed) I thought that this was a place where arrival and departure can be two different things. Where something can be many things, and newness is something too.
I’ve told you this story, and in telling you I’ve got hopes that you could be one such story I tell later on. About giving back and stretching the definition of who we are and what we make and what we make art for.
It is because of this: I came to New York to do one thing and I left doing something completely different. You are one such place. You are not a factory, I think. Neither are you a cow, where the same stuff comes up day after day after month after year, and milk comes and then poop: it’s predictable.
You are perfect, you are whole and unpredictable and strange and open and I don’t know what you want but creativity and art and thinking and working, and I want to be in you.