Breaking Up With Friends, Then Getting Back Together
Opening April 13, 2019 6-9pm
We open our borrowed little shack, eponymous with its famous namesake and founder, exactly one hundred years after Gertrude Robinson Smith and Miriam Oliver planted their first garden on the land away from their hectic lives in New York. Appropriately, this centennial is marked by a project about cycles and the changeability therein.
On February 25th, 2018, Acacia Marable began a year-long ritual of making daily drawings. The idea wasn’t catalyzed from a break-up the way a haircut might be, but it did begin shortly after one. And there were more on the way; endings and beginnings of intimate relationships over the course of the year were noticed, some were reflected in the drawings, others were just felt. As Acacia’s experience of drawing changed so did their body—they had top surgery, they started T. Adjacent and analogous to their daily meditation process, their drawings eschewed the notion of clear and digestible outcomes, even from clear and digestible actions like making marks on paper.
The desire to amass is in direct contradiction with presentness or sitting with what is. And yet, through this sitting, there an amassing of acceptance and even patience. Breaking Up With Friends, Then Getting Back Together’s abundance is deceptive—it might be more relevant to consider patience and play in relation to this project. If you’re trying to cartwheel with the idea that your body will eventually make a straight line you might feel frustrated when you’re repeatedly bent at the hips. The same could be said for orgasms—you’re less likely to come if you're not having fun, or if you’re not present in the experience of touch. There is something here, of play, and patience, and of sex. There is also change. Subtle and big changes from day to day, subtle and big changes over the course of one year.
There were some rules: one hour per drawing and materials must be used until they were exhausted. An initial rule, no recognizable forms, was scrapped early on when the immediacy of a traced hand, yielded to mountain landscapes, reproductive organs, and throbbing clits. Soon there were lyrics, people’s names, shading, dimensional forms, and photographs in the series.
Ultimately Acacia began to utilize codified and illusionistic formal strategies interchangeably with automatism. Scribbled pastel skies are two lumpy figures embracing. Stick figures hold hands. An effortful line shades the shape of a plant. Hands, the nexus of touch, are holding, waving, fisting, rubbing, offering the peace sign. Bodies are indistinguishable from the land—cartoon undulating mountains are a myriad of orifices who confuse insides from out. There are traces of whimsy, indecision, confidence, fatigue, anger, and joy.
In models of self-discipline, we seek external sources to give our routines structure. Often we look for mirrors that reflect our intentions. With this in mind Acacia posted the results of their otherwise private drawing events on Instagram as a form of accountability Their daily log (unlike, say, the building of muscle under a grueling weight-lifting regimen, or apps that track our steps stepped, calories burned, miles ran, and pretty much everything else in our progress-addicted culture) rejects progress. What is learned is latent, kept unseen, felt by and in the body that made the visible marks only—Acacia’s. As an onlooker, there is a fear that nothing was learned and it is certainly troubling. But Breaking Up With Friends, Then Getting Back Together brings the distance between what is known and felt (the knowing of red, the feeling of hunger) into focus and noticing, here, is a type of learning.