I did hold back on the tears … but my heart felt like a fist and there was that lump in my throat. One of the galleries in the AIC was one of deep melancholy and beauty. Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ installations were heartbreaking. This one shown above, Untitled, was a piece for his deceased lover and companion, Ross Laycock who died of AIDS-related complications. My immediate feeling was joy in seeing the brightly-wrapped candy leaning like a photograph in a significant corner of a room. When I realized it was a tribute to the one he loved so deeply, his constant companion, it became joy infused with feelings and emotions and thoughts on mortality and creation … the constancy of life and its renewal. I like the contrasts of the candies … something so simple and tragic and happy and beautiful all at the same time.
Torres’ installations are mutable like life and constant like true love. Viewers are encouraged to take a piece of candy from this installation and when the supply begins to dwindle, more is added. The interactive nature of this installation with the viewer further lends to Torres’ celebration of Ross.
I was observing this with someone I suddenly care for so deeply, the effect seeming even more intense as we walked about the rest of the exhibit with hardtack in our mouths and tears and laughter in our hearts. That moment with a pile of candy at our feet helped me to realize how fortunate I am to have found this kind of kindness and happiness with someone.
Torres’ other installation that moved me so was one of a strand of holiday lights lying on the floor, plugged in and bright, but cast off in what seemed a large moment of grief. A presence of love was there in its light and the notion of feeling emptied by death conveyed in its lonely life of lying on the floor untouched. The strand was able to be dimmed by the viewer. I chose to leave it bright … like the candy — joy and sadness commingled and complex like love and life.
The Ed Ruscha exhibit was great … and was a good one to go to after the heavy but beautiful melancholy of Torres. His homemade books of his photographs of gas stations, apartment buildings, parking lots and more seemingly mundane moments of modern society were odd and captivating in their taken-by-an-amateur quality. Ruscha, after met with confusion from the art world and viewers of his book of gas station photographs gave the permission for viewers to have a “Huh …” experience and reaction to his photographs.
This weekend in Chicago was another transformative experience for me. I am so very thankful for this happiness that follows me around always in the form of one of the kindest people I have ever ever known. And this is also the first time I am not waiting on the other shoe to drop, but to live in the moment infused with kind love and the softest hands I have ever known before.
I am unclear how long the Gonzalez-Torres installations with be at the AIC, but Ruscha is on display till June 1st and is worth any trip (gas prices be damned) to experience.