Today I bring loose tea in a bag and order hot water. The leaves settle, although some remain floating on the surface: a yin-yang effect, according to Daniel. We each note similar phenomena in partially cooked Spätzle; in Pierogie; and in pools of dead and dying fish.
He offers tomorrow to bring along a strainer (which he calls, in a literal translation from the German, a "tea egg"). To avoid bitterness.
Walter de Maria's "New York Earth Room" is an apartment permanently filled with dirt, approx. two feet in height. His "Broken Kilometer" consists of five hundred brass rods, each two meters long, laid out in a room.
We ask for our tortillas under the eggs, and order orange juice (fresh squeezed; $2.00 a glass) in consideration of the heat.
A non-English speaker yesterday asked Daniel where in the U.S. she could get a job that required no reading at all. He took the question to me, a professor of English. Apart from housecleaning, prostitution, or typing, I could think of no such job. Not above the table. Not in the age of bureaucratic domination.
Whoever controls the records has power. Daniel's great-grandfather, on his mother's side, was appointed director of the Statistisches Landesamt – a title that carries down, in aristocratic fashion, to his relatives today. Daniel relates this fact without pride or embarrassment, quoting Arno Schmidt on the democratic potential of public record keeping (when the record's not secret, as in the Stasi administration, or the CIA). The unprecedented power of identifying who is who in the state.
He feels he has not done enough to catalogue his work.
Not for the sake of a personal record. And not for the impersonal record kept by the church or the state, either. The post office is the more appropriate model: it catalogues the work for Daniel and gives it a public dimension – a more than personal value – by stamping the date on the piece and delivering it to a destination. The record circulates with the work, and is itself a part of it.
Artist cvs, pages and pages pursuing grants and stipends – all to demonstrate that you've been approved. The act of cataloguing in such cases supplants the work, as it does for so many younger artists who carry around portfolios when all they've done is a school show or a café wall. The better alternative – in an age where media of information and communication are not neutral but are themselves capable of determining what lives and is recognized and what is ignored – is to make the record and the work inseparable.
As in, for example, a tape recording? There is high magic in low puns. Why haven't we thought before about taping the interview?
An early video installation by Bruce Nauman employed two parallel walls and a camera above the entrance/exit. At the far end (approx. 45 feet away) stands a TV monitor: You can see yourself only from behind, and the closer you get to the TV, the smaller your image becomes.