K 1

“You are traffic”

By Lumi Tan

Feb 10, 2014

During preparations for their current solo exhibitions (on view through March 1) , Boru O’Brien O’Connell and Luke Stettner traded writing prompts with each other in order to sketch ideas for a collaborative performance on the subject of mediated experiences. (A photograph of these prompts in Boru’s studio is exhibited in the reception area of the gallery.) What follows is an excerpt from their exchanges. Their performance will be staged at The Kitchen on May 9 at 6pm.—LT


I listen to Bob Lind in the car. I listen to the music from Ugandan Jews. In here I listen to Bob Martin. These Bobs sing about sad farms and losing but so too do the Uganda Jews (I imagine, in a happier way). I play the sounds of rainfall in here.
I see a sign that I sometimes enjoy. It says: “You aren’t stuck in traffic, you are traffic”. Astutely pointed at me, I like it. Being under the impression of contained control is calming until you remember you are traffic. It’s one long looping ruse of capital and dirt that never ends. 


everything is a container. 

(like the parentheses that bookend these words) 

like a fallen eye lash

like a crescent moon



fine dry particles. the disintegration of a solid substance. each a catalyst. their capacity for dramatic change. two elemental compositions combine to create fire. 


 that great antiquity America lay buried for a thousand years; and a large part of the earth is still in the Urne unto us. 

my grandfather was buried not far from the surface of the earth. multiple continents lay heavy beside him, and excrement too, and the sky and elizabeth, new jersey. or is it lyndhurst, new jersey? my grandmothers name. and a single paper dollar my brother dropped atop his grave.



the general mood on this ship is far from pleasant. i spend most of my time considering foolish things, like how i can't conceive of naming my child anything that wouldn't remind me of something so unpleasant or ugly. how could anyone? any word becomes an objectionable emblem of something belonging to a former time. even this ship, which everyone insists is moving forward, seems to be moving toward someone else's latent trauma. the other day, my own wondering conscious was confused enough to question why there weren't dense masses of trees in such an expanse. what kind of fool am I? there's a pregnant woman on this ship. i presume that lump is gestating. i imagine bones forming and that soon some poor animal will push its head through her like a scab falling from a wound. maybe she will name it joy? maybe she will name it tunic? if the child is lucky — maybe she won’t name it anything at all.


A plot measuring fifty feet or so along the bank of the river in broad daylight and sixteen feet onto shore in the darkness of night. The added benefit of bathing, too. Bathing and cooking. A place for staving off the bombardment of fear.
She is fed up and looking to allocate her savings. Somehow she got trapped with a dozen other people in a space not different in size and she is going paranoid and weighed down. She is baggy under the eyes. She looks at postcards. She stares downward. She does nonsensical counting. Every time she think she has a handle on something, someone asks her a question. She transfers data, pushes numbers, imagines the other space. Tries to answer the questions. Up and down the elevator she goes. She tries staring back. She doesn’t have the eyes for it. She prefers the sound of a stranger’s voice to keep her calm. He doesn’t ask her questions.



there were somatic symptoms and blankets and bears.

i remember orange juice and wfan and how her thighs pushed up against the wood.

there was some story of a stone. i know that sounds weird but its true. something about it traveling upstream, and there was a woolen material, or maybe it was something completely different? it was opaque and it was brown, and it smelled like steel wool. ok — maybe it was steel wool?

the paint on the wall looked vascular. it looked like all the outstretching counties in texas. it looked like a climbing plant. it looked like a wet feather. it looked like the inside of my hand.

“locus” sounds like “locust”. “locus”. “locust”. “locust”. “locus”. “locust”. i have to really emphasize the “tsssst” sound so you can distinguish the difference. “tsssst”. the farmer is the angel of growth. just stick your finger into this [actor holds his arms outstretched]. its warm toward the bottom. not what you would think. its wet too. wet and warm. [very long pause]. there it is — listen. [the sound of hands clapping quietly fills the theater. it starts with one pair, then two pair, the three pair, then four pair, then five pair and quickly becomes indiscernible and out of sync. many many many pairs of hands clapping. it gets louder and louder and louder and louder until the audience cant stand it anymore]


So— I should share—the ship is down. That is, the power is down, the sonar and engine are down, the radio is down. Sorry, I take some of that back — we have lights. The lights may go down. 

 When you bottleneck in the doorway in group hysteria, I urge you to reflect on tonight’s consequence and arrive at a levelheadedness. Although I think in the far future— which is way out of my reach— the ship may go fully down. For now it’s just about being trapped. There’s no shortage of snacks and pillows and alcohol.

We may be isolated but have the basics of what we need. Other people jitter and pace. I urge them to sit still; to lay down, drink water, drink coffee, read a book, eat a banana. Talk about things.

The pitfalls of my instincts are proven repeatedly, disproven repeatedly. The ship is crashing. I don’t blame you for saying no.


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