Monday, October 08, 2007

quick tour of the palace

Just got back from a meeting with Joe Melillo at BAM. Latest in a series of pitch meetings, trying to get some institutional support for the EIF project. Institutional support meaning time, space and money. BAM, of course, does no developmental work at all, they present, but thought I'd put a bug in his ear about the project anyway. Couldn't be a nicer guy and actually had some great practical advice, places to call, people to get ahold of, etc. But of course, all my quasi-Marxist ass is thinking the whole time is:

"This has to be the nicest office of anyone working in the arts I have ever seen."

Totally laid out, leather couch and nice leather chairs and all of that. The effect of the office is compounded by the journey to the office, you come into that huge marble lobby and you check in with a security guard and get a little pass and then you wait for someone to come down and get you. There's a sculpture in the lobby right now and it's made up of hundreds of old records, old vinyl LPs, like from the 30s, some sort of melted together and they're all rising up to form a frozen wave. Pretty cool. Called, wait for it, Sound Wave. And I'm thinking:

"How much did that cost? Those are some old records."

And then Joe's assistant comes down and you go up in the elevator and she's got a key card that unlocks this huge gate and you walk down another big hall and then you're in the reception area outside Joe's kick-ass office and, if you're like me, you're thinking:

"Goddamn. Am I in a theater or an investment house?"

And if you're really like me, you don't even know what an investment house is.

My obvious point is that for those of us who learned how to make our art in the funding wasteland of the 90s, that much cash makes us nervous and a bit disoriented. And if you let it, it makes you angry. You can go childish angry:

"Look at all this fucking money, I never had any fucking money, why did they get all this fucking money, fuckers."

Or righteous angry:

"The money spent on this furniture would fund two dance companies for four months."

But in the end, and maybe this is just age starting to talk through me, you accept that the big arts institutions are always going to be golden palaces, just like the Vatican is always going to be the Vatican, and if it pisses you off, then you're better off going out and finding some other place to pray.

Joe was aces, but my god, its a gilded cage.

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