I recall spending an inordinate amount of time below the horizon

I recall spending an inordinate amount of time below the horizon in a concrete trench. Even if the proportion of time I recall it occupying is flawed it remains a delightful prompt and a sign-off PK uses a great deal in his ‘e-flares’ to me “from below the horizon.” Like most plains cities (except the terrifyingly blind approach to Chicago from the west) Fort Worth rises up slowly, almost endlessly, from the south. A railroad could make the ascent across the rising peel of its roofscape. It rises so gently that I was dizzied by the immediacy of its presence like the chance palpation of some tumorous mass. “Where did that come from?” It might seem more likely that a city like Pittsburgh erupting out of the Fort Pitt Tunnel nothing would promote the effect more. However the lull of the slow creep towards something improbably contradictory to the surrounding milieu (either of the story (like the drive)) or of the cultural context (a piece of disruptive art that functions by virtue of its exploitation of convention (banality, Koons)) is more unsettling (effective?) to me. I prefer transitions and unapparent distinctions to sore thumbs. I prefer to generate my own stopping points over landmarks and guided tours. I drove straight to the Modern. My head was almost so clear that I didn’t know where I was, where I had just been, or what my hopes were with an empty sky that would be too easy to forget.

You could call a thought emerging from old into a new experiential context pollution or corruption (of one to the other and vice versa). But the summoning of a thought, or a fragment, in the evocative venue of some later moment arises with its flaws and erasures amidst a more complete environment with sights, touches, smells, sounds which interlock into the earlier thought, corrupting it perhaps, or gathering it up, giving it a new foothold, a beachhead. And because the aspect of all of these ruminations on thought heretofore is the form of their expression or manifestation, it is vital that these lost jewels limp along until they have sufficient power to say something aloud.

Admission was free. A polished weekday hush ached in the lobby. I remain clear: the silent sun on the pool, silent because it has burned so ceaselessly that I don’t know the noise it makes, the mute details of the building, mute because its voice and words have become so intertwined that I can’t tell if it is speaking or dead and singing back in my memory. Through its gauze I slip undisturbed into the first peninsular gallery. A bronze Caesar stands facing a very large mirror on the concrete wall away from the pool of water which the gallery is oriented towards. He has reached out just above the level of his head to the mirror but isn’t touching it. His fingers curl, slightly limp. An empty expression has halted on his face. It is the face of a rising epiphany, not before and not amidst. It is the irreducible instant at which this saluting Caesar, reproduced from a bronze in patina’d plaster, cast still with all the alloys of propaganda, egotism, insularity, puissance, all the thrust of history inseparable from his eternal being, looks into the mirror in this place, in this present, in this silence, in my witness, and sees just a man, weak, fallible, and doomed. It happens through the juxtaposition, but not solely. The latent epiphany also relies on me. It requires my empathy, the fertile humanity of the beholder to draw upon. The awakening doesn’t happen when mediated. I have looked at photographs of Pistoletto’s work and they are vacuous and approaching trite. This is a case in which the piece of work only functions with the perceptual inflections of presence, a three-dimensional space with corruption of site and procession, and duration. I had a similar experience in the artillery sheds at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, alone at sunset. But the transformation of the Pistoletto piece was more deeply situated. The intrinsic nature of the source piece was utterly inverted by its situation coupled with my inclusion. Different than another participant reliant piece of work (such as?) ‘The Etruscan’ was more subversive. Its conceptual power silently transmigrated without trace, like a miracle of faith, and left with me, again in silence and again the Caesar was left alone with its intrinsic values, for obviously it couldn’t see itself in the mirror. It needed me to see its face in the mirror.


The rest of the visit was forgettable. The building and collection held few surprises for me beyond my first visit. I wandered over to the Kimbell. My hemp loafers were in tatters and I had to walk lightly and slowly to keep them from slipping off. It made me feel like I had just emerged from syncope, slightly aloft. This flaccid conveyance with Pistoletto, Waco, meetings and federal buildings, and a host of others in tow is the silent transubstantiation on which I brought PK’s pieces forward to the lawn of the Kimbell. Standing before PK’s work silently in Austin, having an electric conversation of a passing moment shared with a suite of dead objects, filled me with all of its qualities and left them with none of mine. It was a releasing feeling to float through the world. A building or a piece of a building is that no matter if it is alone. PK’s drawings became windows only when I was with them, and only for me.

It came upon me sitting by the gargling sheet of water behind (in front of?) the Kimbell. It coalesced. The layers and dirt like clouds for a moment form the shape of a landform in my memory, less the Proustian inflection of time than the pictorial emergence of some truth. I don’t know which trip to the Kimbell it was, not the one directly following my visit to UT, but I had been there earlier in the day with Feldman and after dropping her to take a cab back to the airport was asked to return to the museum by Hoeft who needed photos of the stainless steel finish on the front doors. It must have still been spring. The space beneath the bosk was bright and the sky was blank. A group of girls were playing ultimate Frisbee on the lawn separating the Kimbell from the Amon Carter’s lawn. The notion that grew inside of me, or before my eyes, in the silence, or disappearance of the entire world ensorcelled by the gurgle of the water jets was at first an easy one, a laughable acknowledgement that the Kimbell is a great building. Few people would disagree. However, being so often barred from it by forces of schedule what I knew to be great about it was everything that it wasn’t, or possibly more explicitly, everywhere that it wasn’t. By this I mean that it was all of the things that clung to it like cowbirds or trail dust, the things that orbited around it at some distance (like me and the grackles in the pool), and all of the intangible aspects that I would call the building’s own memories, like writings, anecdotes, stylistic influence and antecedents, and mythology. A litany of wingmen that the Kimbell has, the fodder for memory, the undesignable proclivities and potentials, the space that isn’t building that too must be enabled or activated emerges, at first unorganized, because things happen, but could be seen to slowly coalesce into something like a waste mold that the Kimbell itself could be cast from, with our minds and memories as a civilization, your heartbreaks, your night terrors, the films, the stories, the sketches of the traveler, the postcards written home badged with tentative photographs, and the conscious or unconscious riffs and eschewals of the Modern and the Amon Carter, all packed like a steam mold. I saw Perry drawing molds.

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