Tuesday, October 9, 2012

One of Those Things

Ms. Apple

An Anthony Luensman neon ladder.

Saturday night I saw Fiona Apple at the Aronoff Center for the Arts, downtown Cincinnati.  Her performance conjured many images, many reactions inside my skull:

  • Carrie right after the bucket of pig's blood gets dumped all over her head.
  • This bit from "Lady Lazarus":  Herr God, Herr Lucifer/Beware/Beware.  Out of the ash/I rise with my red hair/And I eat men like air.
  • That movie where the teenaged girl gets all mean and nuts with her mom, Thirteen.
  • Edward Munch's The Scream.
  • Holden Caulfield after a beautiful sex-change.
But beneath all that floated something I had seen next door to the Aronoff, at the art gallery, in a one-man show called "Taint."  Anthony Luensman is the artist.  The show itself is kind of creepy and old-school-contemporary.  Like Jeffrey Daumer went on a shopping spree at Ikea, or Andy Warhol's ghost is thinking way too much about "desire."  But the one object/image that stood out from the show -- and that kind of fused with Ms. Apple's demonic/angelic/bipolar/mercuric/girl-pissed-off-because-you-did-not-call-her-back voice -- was a white neon ladder in the basement gallery there.  It shoots up off the floor and crashes through the ceiling tiles, and its eerie, funky glow shines inside and across the ceiling so that wires and insulation and pipes become a secret that is being told.  Ms. Apple's voice and that ladder intertwined while I listened, and I could almost close my eyes and start to climb up the artificial light bars into a metaphysical ceiling, like that voice and that ladder merged into both a way to escape fury and to somehow blend into its heavenly glow.

None of what I felt or heard or saw in my head was meant to be connected.  It was total serendipity.  But somehow Luensman's ladder and Ms. Apple's voice were meant to be combined into that one moment when there's perfection that was never intended.  That's when art works the best for me.  When it is unintentional, stupidly intertwined, momentary, and oddly blissful.