Thursday, November 03, 2011

Positive energy

I'm doing all right here in my apartment in my head, or in my head in my apartment, but then as soon as Jessica calls from the march to tell me they're almost at the Railyard, I'm suddenly so sad I almost don't want to go. Something about the noise in the background, and the hint of excitement in Jessica's voice that a group of anarcho-types were at the front, and succeeded at marching in the street for a little while, and what makes me sad is that this counts for exciting in Santa Fe, five or six people marching in the street in a march the doesn't really mean anything.

As I'm walking towards the campsite, I see the people, maybe 100 or so, drumming and someone with a hula hoop and someone dressed as Uncle Sam, a few people actually, and I'll admit it does feel festive. Another be-in, that's what it feels like to me. Someone from last night's general assembly comes up to ask me how I am – that was a hard place to be, he says – regardless of whether you agreed or disagreed with your proposal, it was a difficult place to be. I can tell that he's genuine, and part of me can appreciate this empathy, but at the same time of course I notice that he's making sure not to indicate any opinion. I say it was very instructive – I learned that people will never be interested in doing an action on Canyon Road. I don't understand that, really – because to me Canyon Road is some sort of colonial Disneyland shopping mall experience, but people are really attached to it – they were reacting like I was attacking their identity, and I don't know what that means exactly except that maybe they are attached to that colonial mindset.

One thing people are really good at in Santa Fe is detachment, that's for sure. Suddenly this guy is busy with something, I'm not sure what exactly but I know it's not this conversation. Someone else says: don't be a quitter. I say: this isn't about quitting, it's about recognizing that this group will never be interested in doing an action on Canyon Road. This is what I keep repeating, when people come up to me, just a few more, they want to voice some sort of awareness of the groupthink horror around doing something the slightest bit confrontational, but they don't want to go so far as to say that, to say anything really, except to personalize the emotional experience, and that's not enough. Just more feel-good fakeness.

Later, I'm sitting in the sun with some of the organizers and Jessica says you can deal with hanging out with these people after last night? It's not like I have anything else here, I say. That's the reality.

The funny thing is that all of this strife has actually made me feel more engaged with being here, rather than less. Recognizing the horrifying limitations but feeling empowered in my articulation, my self-expression, my communication, my anger and disappointment with the whole thing. And so, when I get home, suddenly I'm wired with all these crazy ideas that may or may not happen. Wild and festive and confrontational and silly – the first ever Canyon Road FART WALK, that's what I'm thinking. I can't help it – I start to plan it out:

This month's themes are:

Colonial Couture

We know there's overlap there, but stop thinking and start spending!


It’s time to show off your manliest blood-drenched cowboy hat, your raunchiest turquoise-studded rattlesnake bustier, your bossiest Gulf oil-soaked colonial cotillion gown – and, naturally, don't forget those blood-saturated South African diamonds…

Or, if you want to be slightly more understated in the $anta Fe $tlye, of course any recently uncovered artifact peeking from behind your coyote-lined caftan would be truly magical…

And, honey, you know it's going to get cold, so don't forget to wear that fabulous blood-soaked chinchilla – if it's not bloody, we'll get it bloody…

Bring your maracas, your rattling tambourine, that pounding Taiko drum, and of course a few whoopee cushions – and, get ready to see some… gorgeous… ART!!!

The bidding war starts now…

Brought to you by SANTA FE IS ALREADY OCCUPIED/We Are the 1%

And so, here I am again with wired ideas spinning me out of exhaustion, into exhaustion again I know but for now I'm here with the mania – in some ways it doesn't matter whether this will really happen, it’s the engagement that matters – sure, in a few hours or maybe even a few minutes I'll be staring at the computer screen in brain-drain headache heartache, but at the same time there's something that makes me feel like I'm back. Wait, let me be honest and say that while I'm writing this paragraph I'm already in the middle of that headache heartache, which makes it harder to say what I was feeling before, feeling like yes, these ideas, yes, this engagement, yes this rage at the preposterousness of the delusional thinking in this town. The delusional thinking that makes people write to me just to say: “I do hope that we can organize an event or series of events that allows the artist community to come into solidarity with our efforts in general. This is not our Wall Street... this is the creative community that can bring us to a new level of engagement with the Occupy movement in many other centers of art around the country and around the world. And if there is anyone who can make this happen, it is you, Mattilda.”

"If there is anyone who can make this happen, it is you, Mattilda." Um, there's only one problem – this is the exact opposite of what I'm interested in. Whatever the fuck the "artist community" is – more delusional thinking, that's for sure. Of course, these people don't know me, but if they did they would know that all of my work is about exposing the violence that lurks beneath the empty rhetoric of some tired phrase like the "creative community." And, what are "our efforts in general"? Really? And, "solidarity," another empty word.

Efforts to mimic what's going on with Occupy Wall Street, without applying it to the actual reality of Santa Fe. While I dropped the rhetoric of "Canyon Road Is our Wall Street" because, even if most of the businesses on Canyon Road are hideously upscale and hopelessly derivative, many of them are, so the rumor goes, independent businesses. But, there is no question in my mind that it's the art market and the tourist and real estate industries that run Santa Fe. I'm not sure where people think all that money comes from, if not from Wall Street – organized crime, perhaps?

Oh, I know – the creative community, that's where it comes from! If you don't have the dough, must be because you weren’t creative enough, right? All these magnificent artists toiling to make trinkets for out-of-towners with more bank accounts than change purses. Do some artists make a living in Santa Fe? Certainly. Does this mean that we shouldn't critique the way millions and millions of dollars (billions, even) are siphoned into the hands of bankers disguised as art dealers and New Age healers? Is that what they mean when they talk about "positive energy?" The tentacles of the art market have saturated this town to such an extent that random people who have no real involvement actually believe the most ridiculous mythologies – in a movement that’s supposedly about critiquing the market, try to critique this market and you must be out of your mind!

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