NUMBER of OTHER PEOPLE: 3
STEPS WALKED INSIDE THE BUILDING: 1200
TOTAL TIME SPENT INSIDE INSTALLATION: 45 minutes
It was a short month but that was not my last day.
We woke up at sunrise. Me, and my roommate S, who had let me know that the Irwin was not all light dancing and blissing out and who had forced me to rejoin a dating app for the first time in three years. We has gone on a date the night before. The men (boys?) had met us at the bar in town. S called it the Horsey Pony, for fun. She was good at telling me what to do.
Here’s what you say, “i’m in town for a few days. wanna get a drink tomrorow night.”
Those words were absolutely foreign to me but I typed them anyway.
The whole thing spiraled out into a nineties romantic comedy situation where we went on a double date that wasn’t exactly a double date because S had no interest in sleeping with them because she was exclusively interested in women and fisting and also had a girlfriend. She was more like a guardian angel/chaperone in that sense I guess. She and I had about twelve margaritas at the hotel bar happy hour then headed to the HOrsey POney where we picked up a new friend, K, and her awful acquaintance who wore white pants. He owned a gallery apparently in town and S overheard him having a conversation with a group of women in hats and fake fur coats from out of town:
AWFUL ACQUAINTANCE: I actually don’t date very much because it’s super public. In Marfa we have like only art events so you’re gonna see only the people you know so like if I have an art show like everyone comes out to support you’re gonna see everyone. People that move here that think they’re gonna do their work they’re wrong. Don’t sleep with your coworkers which goes for all the city too so don’t be a slut and boys can be sluts too so don’t be a slut and I sold two pieces today out of my studio today so that’s a big deal cuz I’ve only sold three pieces this year…I’m gonna be open tomorrow 12—6. Y’all leaving tomorrow?
GIRL in HAT: Yeah we’re going to Austin.
AWFUL ACQUAINTENCE: Yeah well I’m gettin another beer and then you’re welcome to stop by my studio y’all are welcome to come it’s not a big deal if y’all want to come by you can.
GIRL in HAT: Thank you.
AWFUL ACQUAINTANCE: Yeah it’s no problem.
I was engrossed in hearing about K’s failed marriage in Europe. It sounded rough, but also beautiful, sad and kind. Not so much about the other person but about fucked up stuff that happened around that. You know the drill, male violence, boundaries crossed, different country impossible communication. She wore a hat the whole time and seemed vulnerable. I kept inviting her along with us every stage of the date, “don’t leave when they arrive!” “Come with us to the STRIPES gas station!” “Where you going girl? Come with us back to the house!”
hey, the boys, stayed over. Sarah and I gave them the extra bedroom. Tucked them in. I saw the outlines of tattoos on their arms, ribs, legs. I wanted to know more, but I went to bed. The whole thing seemed like an experiment in intimacy. We woke up at sunrise to go see the Irwin, piled into my rental car and drove into the dawn. The light was exquisite—dancing shadows, orange rectangles and all that.
Two men, present and new, walking through this place of my solitude. I had explained to them how it used to be a gay cruising spot and an army hospital. They seemed intrigued, walked quietly, took videos, tried to identify the surrounding grasses in the courtyard. They seemed closer to the ideal visitors but not quite. The previous night S had seen a one eyed cowboy—tall salt and pepper mustache—he, I thought, would have been the perfect patron of this place. But he had dissappeared into the night.
I cooked them breakfast. Looked at their lean arms, thin waists, observed them like animals and friends. They watched me too. I loved that they were there—adorable and smart. Attentive and curious. In love with each other and wondering about these creatures who dropped into their world. Two men not explaining anything. Two men I’d known for hours instead of years. Who didn’t need to explain anything to me about their relative unavailability who just sat and stood and walked and listened and talked. One of them had also read A Little Life recently. “Jude,” I sighed, referencing the main, tragic protagonist. “Oh Jude,” he agreed and hung his head.
I cooked us all breakfast, said goodbye, and got in the car to drive nine hours back across Texas listening to Esther Perel, a psychologist who conducts live sessions with her clients who weep to each other as she guides them through the recesses of their intimate lives. I fell into bed in an airport motel. The Irwin was a gift that was gone now, a touchpoint to come back to, a shard of memory. I didn’t want to have any more dreams about the men who left me but I couldn’t help it. They came. They always came. And so I left them.
Later, I texted one of the men, “that’s the thing about aesthetic objects isn’t it? They can’t leave you like people can.” I wanted to have an affair to remember. The affair as it turned out wasn’t at all with Robert Irwin’s piece. It was, as all affairs are, with myself. A recursive fuck (thanks Chris Kraus). The Irwin turned out to be the place away from the affair. The quiet sexless spot. The temple of confession. An affair with art is necessarily an affair with oneself. An autoerotic experiment. The art is where you come up for air. That morning at sunrise I finally understood the dark side. Or, felt it at least. It’s a place not to be alone. A place to be together, too scary otherwise. The leaves dance there on the scrim calling from the world outside. Early orange light illuminates spiderwebs suspended between the scrims. Finally I am here in company. Here together. Here with you Bob and them and her and me.
“The center section is best when you can see somebody else walk through it,” I say out loud and don’t even know that I’d come to that conclusion till the words form. We all go back through and I go through first, passing by the black screens then into the white ones. The three of them watch me. I feel like a ghost and also an expert. Totally alive and also inhuman. Trying to communicate the ineffable (that word! Still!) with my body instead of my mind at the break of day to two men and a friend at the edge of nowhere.