Miss Deeds Goes to Washington


We’re home from another inspiring, overwhelming AWP writers’ conference in Washington, DC, with the usual crate full of small press books and literary journals that we discovered at their bookfair. I’ll be reviewing some of our finds in future posts. Currently, I’m reading Nick Demske’s self-titled collection of deranged sonnets from Fence Books, and Dorothy Allred Solomon’s In My Father’s House: A Memoir of Polygamy, first released in the 1980s and republished by Texas Tech University Press.

After a 15-hour drive through Snowmageddon, we rewarded ourselves with a day of sightseeing Wednesday before the conference began. We were privileged to catch the groundbreaking GLBT portraiture exhibit “Hide/Seek ” at the National Portrait Gallery, closing this week. Even without the censored Wojnarowicz video, there was much to provoke a fresh look at American cultural history. Various pieces moved me to sadness and anger at the devastation of the AIDS crisis, and admiration for how creatively these artists deployed abstraction, coded symbolism, and experimental techniques to hide the truth of their lives in plain sight.

I was surprised by my feelings of connection with Felix Gonzales-Torres’ “Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.)”, a pile of candies in multicolored wrappers. The placard said the installation starts out at a weight of 175 lbs., which was his late partner Ross Laycock’s weight before AIDS. Viewers are invited to take away a candy and consume it as an act of communion with Ross. Like the AIDS patient’s body, the pile gradually shrinks, but is then replenished, symbolizing the cycle of life and death. (You can see the image and read about it on the gallery’s website.)

What kind of art is this? Without the placard, it’s just a pile of candy. Perhaps it’s better understood as an interactive text, or a collaborative work of performance art, rather than our standard expectation of a visual art object that speaks for itself. The interactive nature of the work, I think, is the key to why I found it so moving. It challenges the whole notion of the uninvolved spectator as a proper or pure stance. We are complicit in this artwork. By taking the candy, we’re taking responsibility for our role as bystanders while people die of AIDS, but maybe we’re also receiving forgiveness and restored relationship through this bodily connection.

In other gay news, Adam and I took part in GetEqual’s protest of the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday morning. It’s a little-known fact that this annual event, attended by the president and other top U.S. politicians, was created and sponsored by The Family, a secretive elite network of Christian conservatives bent on political takeover. (Yes, I know it sounds like a Dan Brown novel, but it’s all too real–just not as photogenic as Paul Bettany whipping himself.)

Members of The Family have been actively stirring up religious bigotry against gays in Africa, including the infamous Ugandan legislation that would impose the death penalty for homosexuality. Last month, David Kato, one of the most prominent gay activists in that country, was murdered in a probable hate crime. Our protest honored his memory. About 30 of us sang “We Shall Overcome” and handed out flyers detailing the link between the prayer breakfast, The Family, and genocide against gays.

Read coverage of the event at Metro Weekly and see a short video of the protest. Around 23 seconds into the film, you can see Adam holding the rainbow flag (he’s wearing the red ski jacket and black boots) and me next to him (black beret and coat).

13 comments on “Miss Deeds Goes to Washington

  1. A automobile auction can be a matchless mission to get in touch with a upright sell on a second-hand car. Look after in uncertain that the type of auction you are attending is right away correlated to the reason the passenger car is there in the initial place. A seized property auction resolution retail vehicles that were seized in favour of one understanding or another, be it taxes, drugs, violation, etc. An chattels auction last wishes as trade items that belonged to the holders of an estate. A deathless car auction command sell classic cars and an assurance railway carriage auction will vend cars that are there for the treatment of bond purposes.
    http://rewall.if.ua/?p=119

  2. Proodydek says:

    [url=http://buyingviagras.mediaplace.biz]buy viagra online[/url] Psychedelic euphemistic pre-owned to have the courage of one’s convictions pretend something inasmuch as helplessness

  3. RitEthige says:

    В ЖЖ за такой пост какашками закидают.

  4. sigarety says:

    Good post! Podcherpnul a lot of new and interesting! I’ll go to a friend ladies ICQ:)

  5. Veksinjenue says:

    Hi!
    How do you feel about environmental pollution?
    Let’s work on renewable energy! What kind of advertising you can provide?

  6. znakomstva says:

    Spasibochki:) Classroom theme, write to the bowl – you get good:)

  7. maul says:

    I beg Sorry for my english. But he could not express his opinion. You have very interesting site.

  8. scoogninC says:

    This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing websites that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.