KONINKLIJK CONSERVATORIUM, 1995 — My grad school roommate Stacey Giachino and I in a couple of our “performance works.” Stacey was from Washington state, and I was from Washington DC, opposite ends of the North American continent, and somehow we found ourselves roommates in a grad school a continent, and a vast Atlantic, away. These weren’t really performance works, they were more like photo projects, still, I wonder how much influence they had on more recent works like VB08 – Two Wear My Skin, or VB10 – Dressed / Naked.
I don’t think we ever actually braided each other’s hair, but it felt like we did. When Stacey was around you always felt more, I don’t know, inspired. Somehow she made you feel more alive. Somehow Stacey made me, feel more like me.
THE HAGUE, 2012 — Stacey and I lived together for a year. Really good times. And then we lost touch. She graduated before me, and she was cinema studies. I started as a choreographer and finished in new media studies. Along the way my life, at least academically, was saved by Louis Andriessen from music.
I have no idea what she’s up to today, haven’t heard from her in so many years. I guess I never really knew much about her “life” or her family. We just sort of existed in the here and now of grad school and all the energy and creativity of that time and place. The one thing I do know is that Stacey was from the tiny port city of Friday Harbor, Washington, which by some remarkable coincidence is the same place that Liz was born, although Liz must be at least a decade younger and as far as I know they don’t know each other.
It’s funny, media like Facebook today keep us in touch with so many people that, at least in some cases, don’t really mean all that much to us. Yet there can be these singular individuals from your past whose presence burned so brightly, yet now that it’s gone, you can’t even find what direction the light of their flame was coming from.
And now so much time has passed. Would we still be friends today? I wonder what her life is about now? I’ve gained weight and don’t really dance so much anymore. Would the girl at the other end of the noose and I still have anything in common? Am I just a piece of over-ripe fruit no longer salad worthy?
I don’t entirely know why, but that picture of the two of us noosed together really pissed my mother off. Like almost more than any of my other performance antics. It’s funny the complex mental calculus my mother and I are able to do without even a white board. The equations for a “transgression” like that photo are far more complex than any math I was ever actually able to do in school, yet we’re able to integrate them almost effortlessly. My “fee,” or fine, or punishment for making an image like that was probably a night of not disingenuous schmoozing at one of her RNC fundraisers. Then again, a party like that was where I met the problematic, I-don’t-know-what-to-think-anymore, Charles Rosenthal. The noose photo and meeting Charles were many years apart, so not directly related, but it was the same sort of situation.
With my mother, there’s always a lot of owing. If you make a picture like the noose photo, you’re going to owe her. She also does this interesting thing where if she asks you for a favor, and you can’t do it, then that means you owe her one. It seems like I’ve been running a tab with ma for my whole life. And she always collects. Sooner or later.