Writing Off the Walls 2022

Creativity in the age of CoVID

Brought to you by Studio Theater in Exile & Hudson Valley MOCA

Thinking. Wishful Thinking
by Marcy B. Freedman

Based on A.A. Bronson, The White Flag #8, 2015

I am not a poet or a playwright.
But I do like to think about art,
And here’s what I think about
A.A. Bronson's White Flag #8:
I think that there is quite a lot
To contemplate in this mixture
Of skin glue, honey, and such.
For example, in my opinion, Bronson's White Flag #8 is not really a flag; rather, it is the representation of a flag. Of
course, you could argue otherwise, insisting that Bronson has, in fact, created a flag - using unusual materials. This
conundrum is not new. Back in 1954, Jasper Johns created Flag, using encaustic, oil paint and newspapers. When critics want to know if Johns was creating a painted flag or making a painting of a flag, he said he was doing both. Clever man - that Jasper Johns! Indeed, we need not solve this puzzle. Instead, let's think about the many, many things that Bronson's White Flag #8 can tell us about this country. On a positive note, the absence of red and blue in Bronson's artwork suggests a land without the turmoil of current red state/ blue state discord. I like that! On the other hand, Bronson's White Flag #8 brings to mind the persistence of white supremacy, year after year, decade after decade. I don't know about you, but I cringe to think about that. And so, I think I will buy some paint - in many different colors - and I will throw these beautiful colors at Bronson's White Flag #8. Then, I will re-name his work. It will be called Wishful Thinking.

Stigma by Loretta Oleck

Based on A.A. Bronson, The White Flag #8, 2015

The restaurant is out of the way, in a two hundred year old barn

with an American Flag waving over the door.

We share a pot of mussels and most of the shells are stuck shut—

the dangerous ones.

We know well enough to leave them be.

You are a philanthropist raising millions of dollars for Saint Jude,

Ronald McDonald House, Hole in the Wall, spending countless hours

and dollars helping children with cancer.

I’m impressed.

When I ask what was the driving factor, you share your family

has cancer markers and many have died.

Bad genes, you say, very bad genes.

Did you have cancer? I ask.

No. Did you?

I hesitate then spit out the truth. Yes. But I’m fine now.

Mussels with stuck-together shells pile on the plate.

I am no longer a date. Now, I am a patient in a hospital gown.

Weak constitution. Now you imagine me dead.

You frantically scan the restaurant for the waitress

and motion for the check.

Cancer has motives going far beyond one’s health,

trapping its victim inside the most dangerous of bi-valves—

the ones with the shells that never open,

the ones recognized as dangerous,

the ones carelessly and heartlessly discarded.

Feel free to navigate through the tabs to hear the recordings/poems of Thinking. Wishful Thinking and Stigma. All of these recordings/poems are based on AA Bronson’s painting, White Flag #8, 2015.

White Flag
White Flag #8, 2015

A.A. Bronson

Canadian, born 1946

White Flag #8, 2015

Rabbit skin glue, champagne chalk, raw honey on linen, cotton, cotton rope on linen 59.1 x 114.1 inches

AA Bronson, nee Michael Tims, Vancouver, Canada,1946, was a founding member of the artists' group General Idea, During their twenty five year association, General Idea produced work in every conceivable medium, pioneering video and performance work as well as producing artist’s books, photographs, sculptures, multiples, prints as well as installations, and public art projects. They sought to examine and subvert social structures, taking particular interest in the products of mass culture. They began publishing their ideas and work in File, a quarterly journal published in Toronto. In the late 1980s they focused their attention on the AIDS epidemic. General Idea ended when Bronson’s partners died of AIDS in 1994.

Since then AA has worked and exhibited as a solo artist, often collaborating with younger generations. Since 1999 he has worked as a healer, an identity that he has also incorporated into his artwork. From 2004 to 2010 he was the Director of Printed Matter, Inc. in New York City, founding the annual NY Art Book Fair in 2005. In 2009 he founded the Institute for Art, Religion, and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, which he now co-directs. In 2013 he was the founding Director of Printed Matter's LA Art Book Fair. He has taught at UCLA, the University of Toronto, and the Yale School of Art.

He has had solo exhibits in the UK, Berlin, Finland, Basel, Munich, Austria; 10th Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, Toronto. Group exhibitions include The Jewish Museum, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Balcony, Toronto National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; LA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

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“Theatre takes place all the time wherever one is, and art simply facilitates persuading us this is the case”

- John Cage