My letter to Gertrude Stein
Head of the Boris Lurie Cultural Fondation and grant giving person
New York | May 17, 2010
From an outsider’s perspective, looking in, it would at first appear that Boris and I were about as different as 2 artists could ever be. We were from different generations, and our aesthetics were forged by totally dissimilar fires. The North Atlantic Ocean, and several foreign language countries separated our place of birth. He was Jewish and I was not. His family was well off and educated, whereas, my ancestors were pioneers and struggling. I liked hot and he liked cold. He saw pleasure and I saw pain. We fought about almost everything.
Yet, somehow, who knows why or could ever figure it out, we clicked. We heard the same sounds, related to the same earthly vibrations, understood each other without speaking. It felt like we were brothers connected in some abstract unearthly space.
Forget about artists, he was one of the only human beings who was drawn towards and loved my black and white work. I was one of the few totally captivated and enthralled by his most difficult pieces. This was one of the few places we harmonized.
As you know I have a major (mostly) LES related archive, which includes a variety of unusual kinds of ephemera-- from newspapers and magazines, fanzines, copy shop and offset posters and printed material, to books, outlaw and gang related items, artwork, as well as, video and photographs. I have probably the largest, most diverce and comprehensive photographic collections ever taken of the LES by a single individual. The archives have been written about in numerous places- many alternative news sources to mainstream features in places like the NY Times. In books from general interest to academic.
And in the Clayton archives is a solid collection of material related to Boris Lurie. A wide cross-section of videos and photographic images -- his apartments- his studio- his trip to Buchenwald- art shows - conversations- interviews- fun times and hard times.
I am working hard to finish a 3-volume LES Jewish Peoples history anthology. Boris is well represented in this anthology. I have a publisher and distribution.
The contents is collected and edited. I am struggling to find the funds to get the book designed, and indexed- several thousand dollars. Since the 3 volumes are words and not color photographic reproductions, the publisher will pay for the printing. But I would like to see a fourth volume which would be a picture book accompanying the first 3 volumes of words. One the one hand this is an expensive undertaking; on the other hand, I am one of the few people who has this rare and much needed visual images. This material is historically significant- in many ways more precious than money. Money comes and goes, and is created and destroyed. For the most part money all looks the same. In some cases, the images I want to put in the photo book are some of the only pictures in existence- they represent history and are irreplaceable. What is more valuable: a bag full of thousands of Deutsche Marks or a collection of some of the only visual memories in existence of a person we loved who has now left the physical plane, never to be seen again?
I do not apply for grants. I will continue to struggle to find ways to get this LES Jewish Peoples history anthology into print. I will succeed.
We can watch day by day, as the rich get richer and everyone else loses ground. There are many examples of Bloomberg and Maddoff types. They have enough money to buy and run a place like NYC- yet they do nothing- they support nothing. With they’re out of control, never satisfied, lust for more, more, more, with they’re greedy, self- obsessed, narcissistic stupidity they have killed the muse. They slew the golden goose in return for piles of written down numbers. They are making everything normal, mundane, stupid, and they are taking that which nourished and turning it into senseless piles of nothingness. They have killed the raw, the essential, the vibrant, and the creative energy that gave birth to artistic genius. These kinds of people and their money cannot help even if they wanted to. They to do not have the power to inspire and create. There is no generosity in their giving, only taking. They are no different than murdering fascists. They think that they are building an empire; instead, they are destroying everything that means anything worthwhile to humanity.
Me standing in formation, hat in hat, looking down, humiliated and subservient, attempting to conform to who knows what form of hatred and contempt for what is right, in your long and faceless welfare type of breadline, groveling and crawling, dreaming that a few of Boris’s 80 million shekels, will somehow, mysteriously, be dropped into my hand, like manna from heaven, is an exercise in self generated lunacy. AS you look down licking your chops at my imagined suffering, I know, even if by chance, a few misplaced dollars somehow greases my palm, it will never be enough to nourish the project I am working on. In fact, the lack of generosity this act represents is more related to death than to life. This is not generosity- this is just one more attempt to kill the spirit that Boris represents.
The nourishment I get from doing what I am doing is feed by the knowledge and belief that what I am doing is the right thing for Boris. I am continuing, by honoring and respecting, the radical and righteous Boris Lurie legacy- continuing to make the record of where the chips fall- eventually the case of Boris Lurie will be settled once and for all- and everyone’s actions, for and against his art and his legacy will become transparent and understood by all who are looking.
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