Epic Fail: May 18, 2008

 

Periodically, events that occur outside the studio can impact your art practice substantially, or so the story usually goes. This changed my life, that really opened my eyes to new possibilities, and so forth. I am pretty sure that my artistic tendencies represent a set of core values that I have had since I was very young, so events don’t seem to influence my practice any radical way. Drama, in other words, has no place. It is all rather matter of fact.

Then I received the call. The first thing that entered into my mind after hanging up the phone was that I had made the wrong decision. The studio’s business model was dangerous and could easily be destroyed by a single event. There was too much risk. I always knew that a fire in the building like the one I experienced in the former Union Tools building studio in Columbus would spell the end of a studio space, but I never considered a stranger’s suicide as a possibility.

I still know very sparse details, and as requested by those close to the individual, I won’t disclose personal information because it is not relevant. The story as I understand it follows. A member of one of the bands using the rehearsal studio that connects to the Project Studios main space was going through some kind of emotional difficulty and decided that the only option remaining for him was suicide. He was found hanging there the following morning by a band that had booked practice time. They called Chris Gibson and the police, and that ended it. Astoundingly, the band went ahead with their rehearsal once the coroner left the scene.

By the time I received that call from local band guru Chris Gibson, everything was all wrapped up. The body was gone. The police had taped off the studio, photographed the scene, and finished their work. They left behind only two scraps of yellow police line tape. It was somehow similar to that scene in American Psycho when Patrick Bateman returns to his old apartment only to find that everything was normal and everything that happened there was erased by his former landlord to avoid damaging the property’s value. Then I started thinking about how the timeline played out. I invented a narrative. “I just can’t spend another night on a studio couch,” he must have thought. I can imagine just looking at a piece-of-shit couch and thinking, “That’s it, fuck it.”

At the time, my main studio was still up on the third floor, and basically, every other studio space opened into mine. I never had any theft issues, and I don’t mind the artists who lease from me using my tools, so I didn’t build walls until I moved downstairs. For the purposes of this story, the only thing you really need to understand is that the rehearsal space in question has a door that opens directly into my studio with nothing more than an implied barrier between my studio and a common walkway.

Artists are selfish by nature, and paradoxically want to please others and maybe even serve the greater good, but when I think about this event, I admit that I lean toward the selfish, or at least, consider myself within the invented narrative even though I have no real part in it. The thing that still drives me crazy is that this guy had to walk right past a pretty substantial sculpture (Plaster Neumann) to get into the space where he killed himself. I can’t help but think that if the work was better, perhaps the outcome would have been different. Would you still do it if you had to walk past Caravaggio’s Conversion of St. Paul? Would some art that was actually good give you pause enough to not kill yourself five minutes later? This is the selfish artist’s thought patterns.

In the end, this has had no influence on my work in any way. I think about it sometimes, and wonder how this guy’s friends let him get to that point, but in the end, it is was his decision. I am annoyed that he chose to do it within my studio, but I guess it is difficult to think through how it will affect other people once you have crossed that line. I wonder if a better sculpture could have done some good in this situation. I doubt it, but it is an interesting proposition.

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One Response to “Epic Fail: May 18, 2008”

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