Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Matthew Mullican's "Untitled (Birth to Death List), 1973

Matthew Mullican, Untitled (Birth to Death List), 1973 (image via)

Allan McCollum writes (from the link above):

"The reading (which is done in a subdued light) begins with the statement, "Her birth," and continues through around 200 or so cryptic phrases, ending with "Her death". These phrases describe what could be isolated memory images, or "moments" in a person's life, such as, "Hearing her mother upstairs," "Her best friend's brother," "Thinking about her son's life," or "Forgetting her age". The entire life of an unknown and undoubtedly fictional person is condensed into ten minutes worth of short, evocative statements, which are paraded through our mental apparatus almost faster than we can represent to ourselves the images which they invariably invoke. The accumulated effect of this assault on our image-forming capacity is an unquestionable growth of empathic feeling, or nostalgia; it is a feeling we would not have anticipated experiencing as a result of listening to a purely rote reading of such simple phrases which refer to a completely fictional human being of whom we know nothing, and have learned nothing. Again, we recognize an authentic and powerful poignancy in our response — not of the familiar sentimental sort that we are accustomed to feeling while, say, watching a melodrama, where we have willfully suspended disbelief, but a response which bypasses our will in the way spontaneous feelings develop in more appropriate circumstances, i.e., real life."

• my favorite list viewed of late
• one of the best artworks in Blues for Smoke at the Whitney Museum
• enraptured by a life encapsulated on one page
• favorite line: "noticing that the sky is a light shade of blue"
• unfortunate fact: my age is roughly located at the bottom of the third column
• perhaps a list is the best obituary?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.