Wednesday, February 01, 2006

NAM JUNE PAIK

Nam June Paik died.

I never met Nam June, there was no reason why I should have I suppose, but Emily used to talk very warmly of him. When I spent time working in New York Emily would point out places of particular Fluxinterest in and around SoHo - the loft that John and Yoko almost bought (!), the boiler that Yoko Ono broke and Yoshi Wada fixed. (There are some fantastic photos of Yoshi Wada rebuilding the furnace in 537 Broadway - Fluxplumbing! I think it's the one that's still in use.) The site of this performance and that, Ay-O's Black Hole - the gallery is in George Maciunas' last loft, under the floorboards there's a piece by Jean Dupuy, actually it's part of the floor. You unscrew two panels, one at either side of the gallery and look into the dark hole, and you see the ceiling! It's all done by mirrors you know! I always wanted to add another mirror so that when you looked into the hole, you'd be looking up your own backside. I got to look under the floor but there was nothing hidden there, just plaster and remnants of old performances, I left it all where it was. I got to hang out with Ay-O, he and his wife cooked us dinner, I helped Emmett Williams and Larry Miller, had tea with Alison Knowles. I spent a fortnight working with Henry Flynt, scanning photos for him, by the second week he began to relax and trust me, he gave me a CD. Emily introduced me to Jeff Perkins, I like Jeff but my drinks bills seemed to double.
I went to Alain Arias Misson's post 9/11 house-reopening party in Battery Park with Jean and Olga, we walked home past the World Trade Centre site two weeks after the attack. Emily made us keep the windows closed for the smoke. Larry and I were allowed to smoke in the airshaft, for a while anyway. Emily didn't like cigarettes around the place, but you could smoke a joint ok. Emily showed me a photo of Ay-O's Rainbow Washing, hung between the Twin Towers for Charlotte Moorman's Avante Garde Festival sometime wayback when. I went to help Larry in his studio (in the middle of which I went to the Port Authority Bus Depot to meet Melissa McCarthy), I helped him pack up for a show. Larry's studio contains the Bob Watts Memorial Archive and I didn't dare ask to look around. We talked and smoked a lot of cigarettes and recited Eddie Izzard sketches- 'Do you have a flag?' Emily and Davidson took me to an opening at a gallery half way up the Empire State Building, we were in jeans and no-one else was, I remember that the wine was awful. On the way to Ay-O's or to visit Alison Knowles or to go to the post office or to go to Canal Jeans or The Pearl River Trading Co. (I think) or to have a mooch along Canal Street or to go and watch RAI 1 through the window of a restaurant on Mulberry St, I'd pass a cafè on the corner of Spring St and Broadway. Some fancy Italian style cafè with overpriced coffee and pastries. I liked walking past as the seating area was raised up from street level. Knee height in the bar was about eye-level on the street, there are some lovely knees and surrounding areas amongst the office and shop girls of SoHo!

Emily told me that Nam June Paik used to sit on the bench outside this cafè on regular basis and just watch the word go by. Perhaps he liked a well-turned leg too. She showed me a nice photo of him with Geoff Hendricks and Dick Higgins (if my memory serves me correctly) on that bench. I never saw him there.

Now I never will, so nothing will change there.

Emily has gone too, I have a lot to thank her for.

Now where did all that come from then...? And that didn't include the Fluxlist meetings.

2 comments:

Rod Stasick said...

I think Manhattan is more peaceful
the higher up you get - physically,
I mean, but on the ground it's a real mess.

Rod

michael said...

Nice reminiscents- thanks for sharing.