Jeremy Blake

I'm ashamed to say that it wasn't until I thumbed through the latest issue of Vanity Fair (["The Golden Suicides,"][1] January 2008) that I learned video artist Jeremy Blake had died this summer. The circumstances of his suicide are bizarre, somewhat: convinced the Church of Scientology was out to get them, his partner of 12 years, Theresa Duncan, killed herself in July. A few days later-whether from similar paranoia, or plain old-fashioned heartbreak-Blake followed. The article doesn't dig very deep as to what fed this spiral of suspicion and fear: were they drug abusers? schizophrenics? Were they drinking too much coffee, or on a low-carb diet?Either way, when contemplating all of this later I realized I was more affected than I thought I'd be. Normally, the ego-maniacal rollercoasters of New York's art elite don't make my short list of things that keep me up at night. This story has all the makings of self-inflicted drama: frustrations with fame (and the lack thereof), hyperintellectual superiority, celebrities. It's the horseshit of the coasts most Midwestern grandfathers warn us about.But then again, there was Blake's art.I first saw his seminal Winchester piece in 2002 at the gallery at Johnson County Community College. Focused on the [Winchester Mystery House][2] in California, the video is vivid, lyrical, moody. Blake redeems the spooky roots of the Winchester House, which is now often considered a kitschy tourist oddity. I had the benefit, by coincidence, of watching it in an empty gallery, just myself and my baby daughter crawling on the floor. I was moved.Later that fall, I recognized similar uses of light and color behind Beck at his Lied Center show with the Flaming Lips. Yep-more Jeremy Blake.Since then, JCCC has exhibited Blake's Century 21, and art benefactors Tony and Marti Oppenheimer bought Winchester for the (now) Nerman Museum at JCCC.Video art generally leaves me cold and bored, but Blake truly was a talent. To get a sample, see this gorgeous Beck video, which Blake directed:Some rogue also tried to tape Winchester at the Nerman; consider it a taste. You really should see it yourself. [1]: http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2008/01/suicides200801 [2]: http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com/

Comments

Aufbrezeln Eschaton 11 years, 11 months ago

continued

Yeah, people hurt. Yeah, they want out of that pain. I know that, I've been through it, but I GREW THE FUCK OUT OF IT. If I had been successful in my own attempt at throwing myself off that cliff, I would expect nothing more than to be scorned and ridiculed as the self-absorbed immature asshole I was being at the time.

Glorifying suicides is a fucking stupid and attention-whoring tactic that will only encourage more asinine fuckers to view the act as romantic and one that will forever enshrine them as geniuses lost to the ages through tragedy.

Fuck that. Fuck that with a big splintery log.

Please excuse my bile. This is a season where I've lost two friends to suicide, and they were both complete pig-fucking sons-of-dog-whores for doing what they did, and leaving behind bloody traumatic aftermaths which people who loved them and love the people who loved them have had to clean up, and live through--and, I might add, lived through with a hell of a lot more courage and class than the suicides themselves ever posessed, at least as far as their last acts on earth illustrate.

(And I'm not calling you an attention-whore for writing what you feel about this, btw. I'm calling Vanity Fair an attention whore, and they're media, the terms are synonymous.)

Aufbrezeln Eschaton 11 years, 11 months ago

I harbor a fascination for the Winchester Mansion, although it's hardly a mystery---just some poor gullible widow with more money than sense being fleeced by the popular Spiritualist movement at the time. I'd bet any amoung of money that the "medium" who informed her that she was haunted by the ghosts of the Natives her husband's invention, the repeating rifle, was "responsible" for slaughtering, would never leave her alone unless she commenced ceaseless construction had a relative or backer in the construction business. I just love it for what it is, a monument to eccentricity backed up by assloads of cash.

As for the artists' suicides? Who the hell will ever know, although from what I've gleaned of the COS's activities, it's not implausible that they could drive someone to insane desperation.

More importantly, WHO SHOULD GIVE A DAMN? Whatever pain they were in, real or imagined, they pussied out. They were weak assholes wrapped up in a romantic melodrama of their own fashioning, and not a damn person on earth should perpetuate that fantasy by doing anything more than spitting a "good riddance" on their no-doubt-lavishly-enshrined graves.

Jesus tits, no matter what your talent, or what your potential, the act of taking your own life (in almost every circumstance) is one of cowardice, selfishness, and extreme cruelty to those left behind. It should not be glorified, it should not be wailed over by those who weep and moan about "what he could have done if he'd just hung on." It should be vilified. It should be mocked for the douchetardery that it truly is. Every work of "art" you produced before you took the easy way out should be burned on a big spiteful bonfire of "Fuck You." You shouldn't get Vanity Fair articles written in glowing terms about what an amazing person you were when you check out, you should be flamed until your name, your very memory, is associated with nothing but stupidity, short-sightedness, and selfishness.

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leslie 11 years, 11 months ago

Misty: I understand your rage in this, especially since you've experienced the fallout firsthand. I have issues with the Vanity Fair article for a few reasons, especially the writer's laziness in finding any real meat to her theories regarding Theresa Duncan's suicide. Then again, maybe there was no real reason.

I admit to being more empathetic, however, to Blake's choice. I can see the unexpected death of a partner feeling insurmountable, especially if there are no kids involved to keep you looking forward.

Either way, I wrote this blog because I think Blake's art was remarkable, and I'm sad he's gone. I would have written a tribute whether he'd been hit by a bus or died of cancer. Of course, I probably wouldn't have heard about those deaths in Vanity Fair, so your point is well taken.

Aufbrezeln Eschaton 11 years, 11 months ago

Thanks for not taking all that the wrong way :) Last night was the eve of an anniversary and a day past another, plus I'd just finally gotten around to reading "Everything Is Illuminated", which was like dropping a load of napalm onto my always-smoldering pit of misanthropy. Also, a large amount of Old Crow was involved.

I'll keep my eye out for opportunities to view Blake's film on the Winchester house, though. In my rational moments, I do recognize that a person's life and/or death has no bearing on the art they put out into the world . . .

leslie 11 years, 11 months ago

No worries, Misty. As for Everything Is Illuminated: would you recommend it? I've started it twice, but worried it was nothing beyond a gimmick, and put it down within 50 pages or so.

RyanMacDonald 11 years, 11 months ago

This is the "rouge" who "tried to tape Winchester at the Nerman"

It was opening day, lots and lots of people.

I had only a few moments to record on my camera.

You're welcome

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