Day 2 — Friday May 18, 2007
Mid 50’s Rain mid-afternoon high winds
The day started off with technical difficulties preventing me from video taping. Somehow the table crushed the cable going into the camera. I stripped the wire to make a new connection with a wire clipper. Since I didn’t have any tape with me, the copper wires didn’t stay together. While I was in the middle of stripping the wires, a man from up the block knocked at the door. I opened the door and introduced myself. He looked a bit like James Baldwin in a documentary I saw on PBS. The more we talked the more like James Baldwin he seemed. We tried to name all the 7 sister colleges due to my Mt. Holyoke College performance. IIn the back of my mind I pretended to be Zora Neale Hurston in Harlem during the 1930’s. What a pair Baldwin and Hurston would have been on a stoop in Harlem.
After the man left, I turned the TV off and covered it with paper. The show needed to go on. I began my mask getting lost in dividing the paper by what colors I was going to use. I ripped more paper and started to build the foundation to my mask (It took me a while to build a strong foundation and I used the black and white sections for that). Every now and then I’d glance at the window to see if anyone was peeking inside, but nobody was. Actually many people walked by the window and didn’t notice me at all.
It was much different than Day 1. Maybe the weather had prevented people from going out. I think though that the TV has much to do with it because most people are attracted to the TV screen. It makes me think that the screen has power, much more than I thought it had. Somehow the light and images hypnotize. We can stare at it for hours. Perhaps it’s our desperate attempt to see our reflection in the glass. We see ourselves in the images no matter if they are speaking or telling a story. We wish mirrors could act like TVs.
I was nervous when I put the first log of my performance. I wanted to make sense of the things I saw and noticed.
The LAPD attacked on the protestors and reporters in MacArthur park was a recent public event. Connie Rice, a civil rights lawyer leading a committee investigating the attack was quoted in the New York Times as asking if the police understood the mentality that led them to do what they did.
A man popped in. I noticed his shadow against the window and then heard the door open. He came in and I sensed an eagerness to engage with me and the project. He talked to me. I couldn’t help but gesture when he asked what I was doing. I pointed to the postcards. He was wearing wind breaker jacket and looked very neat. Yellow and khaki. He had a “just showered” fresh smell. He asked what he was supposed to do. I gestured for him to sit and look. “At you?”, he asked. I didn’t react there is so much to look at. “You need music in here”, he said. I keep masking myself and looked out towards the window. “You don’t eat?” , he asked. I motioned to my mouth as it was sealed shut with paper. “You’re here 7 hours a day for 21 days?” , he asked. I nodded yes. “I’ll come back again. I’ll come back. I’m from the neighborhood.” , he said.
Some kids were hanging outside. They had come in earlier and I gave them a postcard. They asked what I was doing and I pointed to the press release. They then went outside and stuck around. They were boys so their playing
got rowdy. They wrestled each other against the gate next door as it replaced the music from Day 1.
The owner of the space came by. She was worried about me and I think I actually scared her due to the mask. She asked me if I was okay. I nodded. She looked me in the eye to make sure that I really was okay. It was a quick hard glance.
On my way home, I saw a man I had seen earlier that morning on my way to the space. In the morning, the wind was blowing hard. He stood facing the wind with is arms slightly raised. He seemed like a bird waiting for that perfect wind to glide in.
I had to go home with my mask on because it had not dried yet. Some people looked but no one was shocked or surprised. Most adults kept doing what they were doing. Kids really looked. They weren’t afraid. I think it seemed like magic to them. I hope it was like magic to them.
Log Day 2 Revealing Myth: Harlem, 2007