Sunday, May 19, 2013
Tanam Press: Why I go to the Movies Alone by Richard Prince
Why I go to the Movies Alone
New York City, USA: Tanam Press, 1983
102 pp., 29.2 x 13.2 cm., softcover
Edition size unknown
Prince's third publication is a collection of "interrelated texts which offers an intimate view of an urban world where the characters create images of each other and then the images have relationships" (publisher's catalogue listing).
Unsigned copies (as issued) typically sell for approximately $450.00 US. A later edition was released by the Barbara Gladstone Gallery in 1995.
"A lot of people wish they were someone else. And some of us would like
to exchange parts with other people, keeping what we already like and
jettisoning the things we can't stand. Some people would like to try to change places, just for a day, with maybe someone they admired or even envied, to see what it would be like, to see if it would be what they'd always heard it would be. There are those too, that are quite satisfied with themselves and never think
about such things as another person's blessings, and it seemed appropriate to
someone like him, that these satisfied ones were the ones that he most wanted
to be like and exchange with and try to take the place of.
He could never imagine what it must be like to spend an entire day
without ever having to avoid a mirror. And where he lived, he made sure, never had a reflection, and any surface that did so, got dulled or rubbed out, and any
surface that became stubborn and kept its polish, got thrown in a bucket.
When he went out, to the outside, he would make sure to take care of all
of what was him, and be aware to resist and turn away from even a frame of
glass, something as common as a darkened window. Uninhibited unconsciousness was something uninheritable, like a nameless form of new life, something not learned, a kind of anomalous gracenote.
This type of character or "component", (as he came to call it) was one of
his wishes, a surprise he had asked for on every one of his thirty-three
birthdays, and though the chances of receiving this prize was next to under the well,
it became a habit, an attitude, a toll to be paid, like sure, make the bet,
why not, wishful thinking cost about as much as the chances of getting it anyway.
His physical demands and his inability to come to terms with their order,
wasn't, as one would assume, eccentric, or even dangerously whimsical. He
had justifiable reasons, and asking for deliverance, however unanswered, was, he felt, strict and necessary clockwork.
Mostly he wasn't sure, (a question of sorts) of how long he could
continue to walk around with the feeling of blood on his hands.
He used to live in the West Village in New York on eleventh street near
the southwest corner of Hudson Ave. And even in a part of the city where a lot
of men were incredibly handsome, he was more. His look had the call, they
exploded the bill for what was generally considered classical or God-like, and
what was usually said about them was something like, "how can that be".
He had heard this many times and as many times as he had, he still took
it badly, sort of seeing his luck as a curse, something thought up on purpose, a
bone pointed at him by an unknown tribe for reasons he felt unfair. He was
being punished for existing as he was, and what was left of his life came to be
lived as a version of one, like a shadow, (a life as subtle as a detail)
always making sure never to be tagged or named, good guy or bad guy.
The self-casting or this is assumed state of invisibility, was the ready
way he figured to avoid embarassment and showdown. Being what many people imagined as the most handsome man in the world was not at all the adventure it was rumored to be. Privacy in public, at least in the city, was something negotiated. The constant fingering and targeting was never as harmless as gossip or whisper, and what most people tolerated as "dirty laundry", he rightly feared as a possible, (at any time) lynch mob free-for-all.
He had spent most of his adult life in an urban surrounding, where
pedestrian relationships had come to be seen as modern dance. He would say he was a solo performer, an independent, someone who ramrodded more than walked, and if his move wasn't exactly in a straight line, he'd come about as if in a sail-race and return from where he began, usually his home, go inside, stay, and not come out for a week.
He wasn't a martyr. He wasn't someone who felt sorry for himself and
walked around with his head down willingly. Eye contact was supposed to be
natural and welcomed, and having to wear dark glasses, as one would wear a pair of shoes, wasn't for him, jazzy or cool or soulful.
The turning of heads, or the useless effect of stopping traffic, was like
confronting his peers as a set of exposures. People froze and anticipated,
as if the sight of his presence was religious in nature. It was scary. Really
a fright. He was better than Christ, he was physically perfect.
He came to refer to his condition as surface, and his surface was a sign
of an emotion that the literal could be as true, perhaps truer than the
symbol. I mean the man could breathe and unless he died and came to be known only through a photograph, then one would have to concede that the tables had turned.
His literalness was what was real. This is what he wore on his hands.
He was a carrier, maybe the only one, an ever present reminder that proportion
and line and beauty did not necessarily exist only in an impression or form or
idea. This was what all the blood was about, and this revelation and the
seriousness of it, weighed an amazing ton."