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Undressing defences…

October 1, 2009

Do you ever wonder who you are???

Who you REALLY are???

This morning I sat in the ON MAIN gallery,

for an hour,

listening to Dana Claxton talk about her new show The Barbarian…

The Barbarian is a Caucasian man,

and apparently,

according to Claxton,

he is a northern nature boy,

and a paramedic in ‘real life’

In the course of three photographs throughout which he is holding a Norwhal tusk,

the Barbarian’s layers of Yaletown armour are peeled off until he is standing naked,

or should I say nude…

Apparently there is great discussion about the difference between nudity and nakedness…

I’m not sure why it matters…

As far as I’m concerned,

if I’m nude I’m naked,

and if I’m naked I’m nude,

in both cases my clothes are off…

It isn’t complicated,

the only difference is how others look at me,

in an act objectification…

Dana Claxton,

of Lakota descent,

is a well-known,

and established,

Canadian female artist and scholar,

working in photography and new media…

The title for this piece came out of hearing the questions,

and misinformation,

about indigenous people,

in conversation with this man,

and his buddies…

And her own inquiry,

into the question,

of whether we can BECOME,

Indian…

I wonder about this myself,

especially as I sit in,

the perennial question of,

Who AM I???

This question has made itself heard many times in my life…

Last year it was time to renew the mortgage on my house…

As I was a student,

and didn’t have income or solid evidence of future employment,

the credit union where I had my existing mortgage,

saw me as a liability…

The fact that I’d had dreams of financial prosperity,

and employment opportunity,

didn’t hold water in a place based on numbers and facts…

The posters on the wall co-opted the language of spirit,

but it wasn’t embodied in the institution…

Walking into the downtown branch was the equivalent,

of walking,

into a meat locker…

I experienced the panic and fear,

that one would associate with the actual threat,

of loss and displacement…

After a day of hard crying,

self-doubt,

and wondering where this jog in the road,

was leading,

I walked up the street in my shorts,

flip flops,

and a pony-tail,

with the simple intention of setting up a meeting,

with the mortgage and loans officer,

at my neighbourhood credit union,

for tomorrow…

Ten minutes later I walked out with a line of credit,

at prime,

and enough to pay out my existing mortgage,

settle some debts,

and live for two years…

I asked Crystal how it was possible,

that all this,

could happen,

so quickly,

when another bank with which I’d had a history,

of consistent reputation,

was now scared to look at me…

She said,

When I look at you,

I can tell that you are going to do very well…

I looked down at myself,

to see whether I was nude,

or naked…

The next week I went to sign all of the papers,

in front of the credit union’s lawyer,

so that he could witness that I really am,

who I say I am…

Crystal met me at the door,

as I walked into the building,

and introduced me to the suit,

and tie…

And as we all walked to Crystal’s desk he asked me,

under his breath,

So what are you studying?

I said,

Philosophy of Education…

He said,

Interesting…

I said,

to answer the question mark,

he didn’t need to say,

I’m writing about what children know,

and adults forget…

And how we become so negated and normalized into compliance,

by school,

that we lose all connection,

with who we really are…

He said,

I have young children…

I know exactly what you are talking about…

A few minutes later,

after all of the signatures were in place,

the lawyer got up to leave…

He shook my hand saying,

Good luck with your studies…

You need to keep talking about these things…

And then he walked out of the building,

in a ball of light…

I asked Crystal,

How did he know I was studying…

Did you tell him???

No,

she said,

I didn’t tell him anything…

This paper holds all the information he would have about you…

We looked on the paper,

and all it said was,

Teacher…


Philosophydoll’s Special Grilled Cheese,

for a rainy Thursday…

Fresh sliced Sourdough from the Swiss Bakery on 3rd @ Main

Rings of sweet white onions

Rugged Coastal Cheddar from Costco

A cast iron frying pan with a smear of bacon fat from the night before…

Assemble sandwich, place in pan, cook, eat, weep,

with garlic dill pickles…

And be very grateful for everything…

Like loan managers who see that you’re going to do very well…

And lawyers who tell you that you need to keep talking about these things…

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