Last week in my visual art studio class, my professor/artist Holly Ward introduced us to Felix Gonzalez-Torres, he is an installation artist and his work has a lot to do with hope since his boyfriend Ross passed away from AIDS. Torres dedicated a piece to him, which he would make installations of 175 lbs of candies, and every time there will be different candies and piled/placed in a different way.
Why 175lbs? because that was how much Ross weigh.
The audience get to experience the diminish feeling and commemorate the loved ones. Anyone can take a candy when they see this piece until the candies are finished. When i found out the context i got goosebumps right away because it was such a beautiful but sad story behind this work that i was deeply touched by it and had to go look for some interviews with Torres. And i did found one with Ross Blecker from BOMB magazine.
RB You don’t make work about being gay?
FGT No. You just include it…
RB I don’t either. Although you make work about being…
FGT In love with a man…
RB In love with a man, what it means to be alive today, what you think, how you feel… Do you think that gets at all sentimental?
FGT Not at all. On the contrary, it’s very political. Because you are going against the grain of what you are supposed to be doing. You are not supposed to be in love with another man, to have sex with another man.
RB So are you in love now?
FGT I never stopped loving Ross. Just because he’s dead doesn’t mean I stopped loving him.
RB Well, life moves on, doesn’t it, Felix?
FGT Whatever that means.
RB It means that you get up today and you try to deal with the things that are on your mind.
FGT That’s not life, that’s routine.
RB No, it’s not.
FGT Oh, yes, it is.
RB A lot in life is about routine, and hopefully we can make our routines in life as pleasurable as we know how. Because we connect to our work in a way that’s satisfying and we have some nice relationships. After that, how much more can you ask?
FGT That’s why I make work, because I still have some hope. But I’m also very realistic, and I see that…
RB Your work has a lot to do with hope; it’s work made with eyes open. That to me is very important. Work made with eyes open.
FGT It’s about seeing, not just looking. Seeing what’s there.
RB Do you look to fall in love? Do you need that as a situation? Does it inspire your work?
FGT How can you be feeling if you’re not in love? You need that space, you need that lifting up, you need that traveling in your mind that love brings, transgressing the limits of your body and your imagination. Total transgression.
RB You feel like you had that with Ross?
FGT A few times over.
RB How long were you with him?
FGT Eight years, more or less.
RB How long into the relationship did he get diagnosed?
FGT The last three years.
RB Did he know he had HIV?
FGT No, the year before he got the diagnosis of AIDS he had his appendix removed and they tested the blood and it was HIV positive. But he was a fucking horse. He was 195 pounds, he could build you a house if you asked him to. It’s amazing, I know you’ve seen it the same way I’ve seen it, this beautiful, incredible body, this entity of perfection just physically, thoroughly disappear right in front of your eyes.
RB Do you mean disappear or dissipate?
FGT Just disappear like a dried flower. The wonderful thing about life and love, is that sometimes the way things turn out is so unexpected. I would say that when he was becoming less of a person I was loving him more. Every lesion he got I loved him more. Until the last second. I told him, “I want to be there until your last breath,” and I was there to his last breath. One time he asked me for the pills to commit suicide. I couldn’t give him the pills. I just said, “Honey, you have fought hard enough, you can go now. You can leave. Die.” We were at home. We had a house in Toronto that we called Pee-Wee Herman’s Playhouse Part 2 because it was so full with eclectic, campy, kitsch taste. His idols were not only George Nelson and Joseph D’Urso, but also Liberace.
RB That’s a very nice combination.
FGT Love gives you the space and the place to do other work. Once that space is filled, once that space was covered by Ross, that feeling of home, then I could see, then I could hear. One of the beauties of theory is when you can actually make it into a practice.