I decided to re-design my website using one of those nifty site templates. Newer work up, newer work coming soon. Again, that’s angelabeallor.com.

new-site

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December 2012.

My last writing posted here was back in April while I was in Vermont. I think that every time I return to this blog (at least in the past two years) I note the time it has taken me to actually return. A ritual of sorts. Guilt-induced or some sort of “hope to be better next time” about writing regularly…maybe?

I’ve been quite painfully aware for some time that I am not writing. The pain of course the result of knowing that I need to be writing…

Things are shifting for me and I could really really really use the space of the page and the measure of time that the act of writing brings to work some of these interior battles out… but sometimes it is hard to make oneself do the things that one needs to do. Obviously. The world is shaped by this space that is shaped by our denial, shirking, procrastination. The geography created around us by the things we cannot bear to look at, deal with, put off for another day. This land a sort of anti-logic constructed out of the attractions and repulsions of our inner-worlds.

Hmmm. I kind of like imagining it all this way. Shaped, drawn out. I may not make sense yet here. Feelin’ a little rusty in the area of sentence placement, word strings, semi-completed thoughts.

Oh Anxiety. I’ve been having a lot of anxiety lately. My chest feels inexplicably tight and I find myself holding my breath a lot. When I notice I am doing it, I try to breath in deeply but I can’t breath deep enough. I then notice that I cannot breath properly and this brings me to fixate on my breathing and then I really really can’t breath right. And the anxiety deepens. It is deepening as I write this, as I try to focus on describing what is happening. I woke up this morning with this feeling. And yesterday morning. Many mornings of late. Probably a lot of mornings in my life except that I didn’t really know to look at it in the past.

I had to walk away from the computer, take a shower, etc because I had to stop writing about that. It was making it worse! I signed up for a yoga class at a center around the corner. two hours from now. I hope that this will help bring some relief.

What is it? Why is it happening? This anxiety? Some not-so-wild guesses.

1) I’m having some crush-ee feelings. I mean I have crushes and frushes ALL the time for all kinds of people. I would imagine that this is quite “normal” though who really knows. Since my last break up (it’s been two years say whaaaaat?) I have been pretty focused on being non-involved with people. I’ve had lots of sex at times and none at others, I’ve dated a bunch of people, but I’ve been pretty into short term, casual, and non-committal hanging out. All of this I’ve needed. I’ve needed to have these boundaries up. I’ve needed to be careful with myself. That break up was awful. That relationship turned really bad. I left that person feeling uncared for, lied to, manipulated. Just generally unsteady about what I needed and wanted, what failed there, where it was my fault/our fault/g’s fault. I needed time to heal and reflect on all of what happened… that relationship. oh that relationship.

And in looking at it, I see how that relationship related to my previous girlfriend and how all of that related to revelations about my family secrets that had happened not long before we started dating. G was my way out of my breakup with H and H was (in some ways) a way to move away from a family that I wanted to separate myself from. How had I been trying not to think about all that and what ways was I not learned how to cope on my own?

So there has been a lot to disentangle and I have been working really really hard on it. Despite not writing much in this time. Maybe I needed time without any kind of written record. That bothers me a bit but I guess I can respect that need.

Aquarius for week of Dec 5th:

It wouldn’t be too extreme for you to kiss the ground that has been walked on by people you care about deeply. And it wouldn’t be too crazy to give your special allies the best gifts ever, or compose love letters to them, or demonstrate in dramatic fashion how amazed you are by the beautiful truths about who they really are. This is a unique moment in your cycle, Aquarius — a time when it is crucial for you to express gratitude, devotion, and even reverence for those who have helped you see what it means to be fully alive.

It’s so hard to write these days but I need to be. I know that I need to be.  We were at rehearsal the other day. After lots of warm ups and stretches, J. broke us all up into small groups to work. I was given the task to write a letter to Kathy Acker. A free write & I wrote about ghosts & desire. About inappropriateness. About family and lovers. It felt so good to just take a suggestion and to go with it. To see where I could go. It felt dazzling and strange and amazing to return to the space that writing gives me, alone with my thoughts and the page. I know that I need it… that to really bend into this stretch that is happening right now… I need to be writing.

Walking to the store, nearly five. It is already dark except that at one edge of the sky, the color was still a light blue, framed with dark blue-black. There was a jet trail shooting across the light blue (super blue as h. called it). There was a star. I felt so charged in that moment and could only say within: the world is amazing and beautiful and terrifying. The world is sad and amazing and terrifying. And I am holding all these things at once without being overwhelmed by what is scary… such that it stamps out that which is beautiful, wondrous, amazing… I can hold it all at once.

Today has been a day of surprising and challenging conversations. Walking back from the coop, I thought to myself to write a letter to Mr. G, my mentor in college. I really feel like when all these fucked up things were happening in my life towards the end of school… that I was letting him down. He was just trying to steer me back onto a path, a direction that he saw for me, strength that he thought I had. He was just trying to be the mentor that he was.

The impulse to write him. This is the first time that I have really had it. It brought me to realize that I am finally coming back into myself, steering my life onto paths that I desire, facing my fears, feeling full and present to the circumstances that present themselves to me, meeting people with all my heart, all the openness that I can bring to bear. I am crying. These are tears of relief. I am not sad for what I have lost anymore. I am happy to have arrived here. All of what has happened, all of what it has taught me about being a present human being in this terrifying world.

What was the date that my life really unraveled…? February of 2003, I think. Ten years. Ten years, child. Ten years.

I am excited to announce that I am one of 18 visual artists to receive a 2013 Jerome Foundation Travel & Study Grant! I will be traveling in Lithuania, Belarus, and Russia for two months in the fall of 2014. My travels will be guided by a search for (and the story behind) hot pink Vladimir Ilyich Lenin lapel pins in the countries of my ancestors.

More details and thoughts soon!

pinklenins

angry women

 Angry Women REvisited
July 17th 7:30 PM
Dixon Place, HOT! Festival
161A Chrystie Street, NY, NY
Conceived and directed by

In collaboration with and performed by Avi-Rose, Angela Beallor, Joshua Bastian Cole, lizxnn disaster, Roo Khan, daniel rosza lang/levitsky, Sloan Lesbowitz, zavé martohardjono, Niknaz, Jenny Romaine, Zachary Wager Scholl, and Alma Sheppard-Matsuo.

Angry Women REvisited (work-in-progress) is a multi-disciplinary performance inspired by the 1990s classic feminist text. A twelve-person ensemble of actors, dancers, visual artists, writers, and filmmakers manifest feminisms and activisms in an exploration of what has been lost and gained in the last quarter century. Expect large blocks of chocolate; a mop, rose water, and a video monitor; an answering machine revival; the f word; a trip to the library; Butler texts and periods; and music that’s a little too loud. 

On a split bill with Dominic Bradley and Anna K. Whaley

I am thinking a lot about space.

Currently at the Vermont Studio Center with the largest amount of workspace that I have ever had. It feels nice to sprawl… to spread out and stand back. I am sad that I will have to return to NYC where I do not have such a luxurious expanse.

I am also anxious about returning to NYC. I sacrificed a lot to be here and I will be deeper in the debts that I was already deeply in before I came here. It is hard to admit that, aloud… so many of the people here and everywhere seem to be operating with some fuzzy economics. Secret funding and the like. It is hard to try to “keep up” when the very terrain that you are trying to stay upright on is uneven, clearly yet unclearly uneven.

Class is murky.

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The question of whether a city is good for artists makes my head spin. It has been coming up a lot here– about NYC, Brooklyn, Cleveland. I find myself describing living in Brooklyn as “terrible” and “difficult.” (I think it is important to throw wrenches into conversations and dialogues. I think that is my role in life.) I think Brooklyn is thought of (particularly by artists, particularly by white artists) as the terrain and abode of artists. I think it is increasingly the problematic terrain of real estate, money, power, and gentrification. A place that those who didn’t live in Brooklyn stayed out of and now everyone wants to be there. To answer “Brooklyn is good for artists” is simplistic and unfortunate… and I don’t feel comfortable with that. Being an artist in Brooklyn is incredibly problematic. As a transplant, there is little to no accountability and more often than not (though not always) it comes with a demand to meet the needs and wants and whims of the artist. Expensive olive oil and good coffee and almond milk in the bodegas and on the corners… yet, no real sense of attempting to encounter the nuances of the newly overtaken terrain and the decades of lives, past and present, of the people of Brooklyn.

In Bushwick (off the Gates J) where I live, the police led cop parades daily for several months. This was the spring of 2012. A kid had just been shot. and killed. by an off-duty detective on Grove Street, just around the corner from my apartment. Two teenagers mugged the off-duty detective. One of them ran away and the other was shot and later died at Woodhull hospital. There was not a peep about this in the neighborhood… but the police showed up, en masse, took to illegally entering my building to use the roof as a vantage point. I tried several times to prevent them from entering behind me (without a warrant, without a “clean halls” sticker) but they prevailed every time. A group of rookie police would gather on the corner. The cops would show up in groups of 30-40, marching in a parade down Bushwick Ave, then dispersing in groups of 4-5 around the area. I saw numerous cars pulled over and searched (by cops on foot). People on bikes pulled over. People stopped and searched and arrested. Everyone of these people –black and brown and male.

Is Brooklyn good for artists?                    Are artists ‘good’ for Brooklyn? 

The same question was asked of Cleveland… my hometown and one of the poorest cities in the country. A racially segregated and economically depressed city. The city’s population is over 50% people of color. 50% of the city is Black and the majority of Black Clevelanders live on the cut-off, isolated  and economically depressed east side. Tremont and Ohio City are two near-westside neighborhoods, both close to Clark-Fulton (once a predominately poor, Appalachian neighborhood, where my mother lived as a single mother and where I lived when I was born). Tremont overlooks the steel valley. (Now home to the Steel Yard Commons, a strip mall. Now home to the wal-mart that city council snuck in under the nose of a Cleveland that didn’t want it. A wal-mart that probably received similar tax breaks to the Cleveland Clinic, the stadiums, etc. Reagan and Thatcher are gone but trickle down is still alive…) Tremont was once home to a lot of Eastern Europeans and other steel mill workers. In the late 90s? Early 2000s? a development company began purchasing empty homes and converting them into lavender and purple gingerbread homes. Reselling them for higher prices. The projects on the southside of Tremont were torn down and replaced with supposedly “mixed income” houses… eventually galleries and restaurants and bars moved in.

Ohio City is currently seeing economic development as well on the Lorain corridor. It is unreal. It outpaces the people that live in the area. Lorain once held many nonprofits and service centers. These have either moved out or have been pushed out or are fighting to stay. The area is being gussied up with no clear care for the people of the area.

Of course, the drive for artists in Cleveland is far different than NYC… but this question: “Is Cleveland good for artists?” makes me cringe. I feel protective of my city and suspicious of the interests of artists. Not for all but for many… there is geographic mobility and the search for economic mobility…

What is often missing from this conversation is the question of accountability.

Personally, I am on the precipice of moving out of NYC. It is not sustainable. And I feel like an invader in Brooklyn.

◊◊◊

I once walked into a room of middle class to upper class Jewish organizers. All of them identifying on some vague left of center, liberal to radical spectrum. I was introduced to them by a person whose apartment it was, who was hosting the informal meeting. Q provided this gem of an introduction:

“This is Angela. She is the daughter of an organizer and the organized.”

Cringing and horror. Can you imagine…??

My whole life I have grappled with my mixed-class background. With one half of the family that looks down at the other half. My father’s family is middle class, Jewish, from NYC. My mother and my mother’s side of the family are from West Virginia and poor. Incredibly poor. My mother grew up in a two room shack with often nothing to eat. My grandfather was imprisoned in a work prison for being unable to feed his family. He and my grandmother died poor. Died with little to nothing. My mother now lives below the poverty line. If she gets sick, I don’t know what will happen. I keep dreaming of this. Of wheelchairs and canes. Of death.

She and my father were both politically active in my youth. My mother, however, now describes a distinctly bitter taste in her mouth for the “activists” around her. She felt that they thought they were better than her. She felt like they kept her around because she was a coal miner’s daughter, because she was the real thing. 

I have a lot of distrust for do-gooders, liberals, radicals. And it is definitely not all rational… I think, however, that there is so much back-patting that it is kind of important to disrupt it. Again, I think it is about making space. Throwing a wrench in the conversation, the dialogue, the smooth sense of understanding, of identity.

◊◊◊

I may not name the trauma in my work. I may not make it the subject of my work but it is something definitely at play. Gaps and silences, visible and conceptual gaps, are vital. They are in many ways about making space, making spaces. Disrupting what may appear to be a whole. Creating, illuminating, highlighting the fissures, fractures, ruptures, and fragments.

{I do this for myself, for my mother, for my sister. I do this to have my own silence, my own space, to choose. I do this in the face of silencing and shame, some of which I didn’t even know I was living neck-deep in. I do this for the stories that are kept out of the historical narrative. For the cultural traumas that those with power and voice would like us to forget. To all those who tell us slavery and racism and colonization are a thing of the past. To those who tell us to bury the trauma, to swallow our shame, to keep hush and give a good face. Keep the facade in tact. Keep this dream of happiness and togetherness and cohesiveness alive. We made it. We will make it. I am sorry. I can’t do that.}

The thing about collective work. Conversation. Dialogue. Friendship. Etc… the part that I often think is uncomfortable and repressed… is that the space of a great interlocutor is the space of great challenge and critique. That squelching dissent in these spaces really weakens us, our lives, the work. And I know that I don’t always “do it right” or well or comfortably… but this is often right in the spaces where I tried and it was squashed…

Last night I gave a slide presentation of my work and was left with a bunch of questions about the silence and the gap and pause. About what lurks around the work that isn’t spoken. Why is it that I feel like the visual work is the exoskeleton and that it emerges from the frame, from the skeleton, from the form which is writing? Is this okay? And what am I not making visible that I should be?

Life has been a bit of a struggle “to be seen.” Gaps and silence often allow misunderstanding or a “stating for” and I can sometimes roll with this and sometimes not… and in the times where I just allow it, am I just avoiding the feeling that something is being misunderstood or misrepresented and not figuring out a way to handle it in a way that feels right to me… and does this make all the other things of dissent and rupture and provocation all the more heightened and harsh?

◊◊◊

I am currently working on a new fort in Vermont. I am calling it my wedding fort. My dad and L are getting married in July. My brother and J are getting married in August. All of this is great. I love L and really like J and know that this will only get better with time and proximity. But it is also okay that it is hard. It comes with some uneasiness for me. I know that for my family my presence is not always comfortable. I know that it is not always easy to acknowledge and relax around my queerness. And it hasn’t been aggressively anti-queer, not for a long time. And when it was, that was mostly in a time where I think there was suspicion without acknowledgement. I think there were attempts to “head me off at the pass.” To keep me from “going there.” I think my family has tried, is trying… even in times where it really isn’t comfortable for me.

What a wedding or a marriage does… or has done in my family… is to give the space to recognize, acknowledge, and talk about relationships. Which at least in my experience isn’t always happening. And I think it is because of my queerness. I think it makes people not ask, not want to know. Which, honestly, is kind of rough. Sometimes I would rather have a clash, some opposition, rather than this silence. It feels like sometimes no one cares.

So what am I now? I am queer. And single. Dating but single. I don’t think I want to get married. And I am kind of scheming to have a child with myself surrounded by community… sometime in the next couple of years. I distrust the overlay of financial relationship, romantic relationship, parenting relationship. I kind of think these things can now be separate and maybe should be separate.

So this leaves me all kinds of invisible. I have no visible ritual. No way to acknowledge, celebrate, support this life of mine. Which might be fine if there were more room for me in everyday conversation.  And I don’t think I need a ritual at this moment. It is not so much that… it is just if I felt like there was more room for me and the intricacies of my life then it wouldn’t feel so stark in contrast.

I completely support these marriages. I am excited about them. This isn’t anything about contrariness. I think it really is something that can’t quite be spoken. This wedding fort may (besides this writing) not ever describe itself or be described as a wedding fort… but need to build it with this in mind. need this space, this self-acknowledgement, this way of sitting with myself in relation to what will happen during the rest of this year. I need the fortification for myself without any explanation. I need to feel like I can build it and not face defensiveness from myself or someone else. I need to work this out here so I can be there for my loved ones. In full. With more of my self.