Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Marcia meets Moyra

My Place blog: 1.29.07

Anne Colvin phoned me today to remind me that “My Place” will be closing soon, at least insofar as it occupies her gallery’s physical space. She hoped I would make another mark in the TART Journal, preferably to post tomorrow, which I’d planned to do anyway. Hard to know where to begin, so much is swirling in my head.

First, I’ve neglected to mention that Moyra Davey and I met, all too briefly, while I was in New York earlier this month. She was gallery-sitting at Orchard, taking her turn at the experimental curatorial space she and a group of other artists/writers/theorists co-founded a couple of years ago: A $15 taxi ride took me from Chelsea, where I’d spent the day slogging through galleries, to Orchard’s all-but-invisible storefront in the Lower East Side. It was dark and starting to rain when I entered the narrow, dimly-lit interior -- they were showing experimental Polish videos from the 1960s which I tried to get into but couldn’t -- and Moyra came up to greet me. She’s probably thirty years younger than I am, with an engaging presence, straightforward and unassuming. I liked her right away. I’d hoped we could go out for a glass of wine but that proved impractical so we sat together at a table in the rear of the gallery, sharing a can of truly vile Budweiser (how DO people drink that stuff?) since all the Heineken had been consumed.

We talked and talked. Naturally we were curious about each other. I hadn’t yet seen her art work or read her writing; she’d googled me and thought I was a visual artist (there IS a painter my age named Marcia Tanner -- but I’ve never met her). What could Moyra and I possibly have in common -- apart from our both being white, female, writers, Anne Colvin’s acquaintances, and involved with visual art -- to incite Anne to pair us in what was still, to us, this enigmatic project “My Place”?

Even though our conversation lasted for an hour and a half I’m not sure we came to any conclusions, but we did learn some things about each other. Moyra is an impressive person, extraordinarily accomplished as a photographer, videographer, and published author. She’s also a mother with a young son, a professor, and wife to another artist, Jason Simon. Like Anne Colvin, she’s modest and self-effacing, not helpful traits in today’s fame-and-celebrity-driven art world. But her thoughtfulness and introspection are among the qualities that render her works authentic and valuable as human documents, whatever their market value.

Moyra is The Real Thing, an artist unswervingly dedicated to art and artmaking, experimenting with whatever forms, experiences and materials present themselves. Books inspire her; she loves to read and write, and both activities are part of her practice. She loves teaching even though she worries it may detract from her studio work; how does one reconcile/balance/juggle the two? Is teaching also an extension of her practice? She seems to take her involvement with Orchard very seriously. But what about motherhood? How does feminism figure into her creative consciousness?

We parted having raised more questions than we answered, I think, but that’s a good thing. I left Moyra feeling energized, bursting with unfinished business. I knew, for instance, that I WILL write the book I’ve been postponing for the past four decades, whatever it is (at this point I have NO idea). And Moyra has one more friend and admirer. Maybe that’s why Anne put us together?

Since our meeting I’ve done a bit more homework. The Orchard website describes Moyra thus:

Moyra Davey is an artist and a photographer. She is the editor of Mother Reader: Essential Writings on Motherhood, (Seven Stories Press, 2001) an anthology on maternal ambivalence and the intersection of motherhood and creative life, and author of The Problem of Reading (Documents Books 2003), an essay-book with photographs by Davey, JoAnn Verburg and James Welling. Her most recent project is a video on psychoanalysis, nostalgia and NYC post 9–11, titled Fifty Minutes. Davey is a 2004–05 recipient of an Anonymous Was a Woman award.

I just started reading Mother Reader. Moyra edited it brilliantly, and I recommend it to every creative woman who’s already a mother, considering becoming a mother, or neither. I’ll be giving it as a gift to my friends this year. I’ve ordered The Problem of Reading from Cabinet Magazine and hope it arrives soon.


Meredith said...

I'm a bit of a latecomer to the TART show and blog, but just wanted to say how very much I appreciate the lively and open tone of the conversation...looking back to an earlier post (on the difference between writing and teaching) what is the difference between creating a site for conversation and making an "object" ? For an object to "come alive" as art, it must evoke in some way a dialog with the viewer... I'm finding this "work" a very refreshing piece.

TART said...

Thank you Meredith. This is something that I had hoped for from the outset of the project. I set the tone with my somewhat unorthodox press release/statement, open and honest. Others have followed suit.


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