Monday, July 06, 2020

From my 1975 Journal, an account of an elaborate party

(16 May)

[John] Fitzgibbon had called the day I was working on the grant application for The Bride, to invite me to his Bride-based event for Bruce Nauman & Howard Fried, so of course it was necessary to go. L. had to work, so Giovanna accompanied me. A gorgeous day: we drove to Auburn, then south up behind Folsom Lake through Cool to Pilot Hill, turning west to John's. We were directed to a parking place; there we gave up the dozens of roses we'd brought & were instructed to walk down a trail, stopping at some point to take all our clothes off (I retained my hat & shoes) & lay them out to look as if they were still being worn. Clothes were hanging from trees & bushes (some times from poisonoak!), sitting, stuffed with other clothes, on logs; lying spread out on the ground. In a large hillside meadow – actually at the edge of it — we sat, getting our instructions from John; down at the bottom of the hill there was an easel; on it, a painting by ____ in homage to Duchamp’s Nudes. In time we saw the figure of a unicorn appear at the bottom of the hill, accompanied by one of John's daughters in a bridal gown; after a while we heard country string music, & then Nauman & Fried appeared, escorted by a fiddler.

They had flown to Sacramento, been met by a car, ostensibly to be driven to John's, but were let off at the lake, where the fiddler met them & accompanied them via sailboat to the bottom of our hill. While looking at the painting they were distracted by the bride & the unicorn, who proceeded slowly up the hill; as Nauman & Fried followed them, we nudes appeared on either side of their path, arcing Frisbees across it & calling out messages out of the Duchamp canon: "Water & gas on every floor!" “No solution because no problem!” etc. At the top of the hill the bride was stripped by seven bachelors, who barred the guests from aiding her; she was abducted by Death, a hideous skeleton, & was led, with the unicorn still protected by the seven, so that Nauman & Fried could not touch his horn & free the maiden, up the steep path past the clothing- dummies.

In the meantime we swift nudes were ascending through the oaks on either side of the path, so that we got to the top ahead of Death & the maiden & the guests: at a corral at the trailhead we formed a gauntlet, analogous to Nauman's green corridor, the path between the two rows strewn with rose petals — a lovely smell – & Death, maiden, unicorn, bachelors & guests passed the gauntlet into the corral, where John welcomed them, the guests were finally able to touch the unicorn horn, the maiden was freed, & the event was over to dancing & music.

The impressions — youth, of spirits above all; sunshine & oak-dappled shade; aromas of grass, flowers, roses; animal energy & beauty; speed & power, a little mystery. It all worked very well indeed.

Afterward G. & l went up to John's to thank him - on the way seeing the discarded typewriter, lying among the oaks like a rejected casting, the relic of a previous event.