Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Great American Loserdom

Conrad Freiburg
Artist, musician, & carpenter
Forest Preserve District of Cook County


There is no romance in artists studios.  There is a loser rolling off his couch next to his pick up truck. There is cold pizza and coffee for breakfast.    There is homelessness and shitting in buckets because what meager space can be afforded on the margins is a garage on the west side without a toilet.  In addition to forays into what might be the greatest failure in sculpture since that cargo ship filled with baby doll parts capsized on the shore of eighties art schools, you begin to innovate and take pleasure in finding solutions for civilizing the life of the loser in the 21st century.

The artist in process of vacating his studio.

One finds kinship with homesteaders and the make-do spirit of desperate Americans of the civil war era foraging their circumstance for what joy and pleasure and steadiness might be found in the open and dangerous beautiful places of the Open Western Skies.  You get a membership at the YMCA so you have a place to shower, shit, and exercise with machines.  Your open western skies, your expansive becoming, your brief unutterable pleasures are found in those strange objects produced under such circumstances, shown publicly, and then put into the storage pile, or, if you are lucky, on a collector's wall.

The artist's toilet paper holder.

In these sideways situations there is a perpetual uncertainty.  When the hammer falls it is traumatic.  You can be turned out when your landlord's ragtag unpermitted electrical schemes are finally discovered because there was a shooting across the hall.  In addition to the .45 callibre bullet hole in your wall, you  get the subsequent city inspectors, city lawyers, and city Orders to Vacate.  You spent all your spare money on building the space for unknown unfoldings, and your 2 month deposit is forfeit due to your landlord's bankruptcy.  I for one wish this were not my truth- these unfortunate and sickening vapors of burnt normalcy.  To not take it personally, I bathe myself in the Waters of Odd, play music, sing songs, make art, make friends.  With all these refined pleasures of loserdom, Henry Miller was right “genuine needs are met.”

A delicate sculpture destroyed.

You find that you have friends who bring food from their kitchen to you on the sidewalk as you set your panhandling art machine in motion.  When you and your love call it quits and its not dark yet you find that sofa surfing is a delicate art of washing dishes and singing for your supper.  You find that you cannot do this alone; this anything alone.  You find that friendship is the most valuable thing when you are poor and some people are surprisingly kind.  It can break you open to be allowed to be cared for, to be given gifts not asked for.  The unplanned special offer of free space inside a small institution's walls can begin to make you feel that maybe all these terribly inexplicable choices are adding up to something someone else might be interested in engaging with deeply over a period of time.  That the HPAC is offering a physical place for work to unfold in a community that might care about such things as harmony, formalism, cosmology, phenomenology, demolition, entropy, dissonance, absence, and the unknown blossoms of the VOID might make you think that there may be a place to bury what can't be carried.  Maybe life is easy after all.


-Conrad Freiburg
from the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, 2010



Conrad Freiburg is an artist, musician, and carpenter who grew up on the Mississippi River. Last Summer he recorded an experimental folk album, and also made drawing charcoal from pieces of his bowling ball roller coaster called the Slipping Glimpser. This Fall and Wnter he plans on singing sad songs on his happy little ukulele, making drawings, and building the most fantastic Nothing the Hyde Park Art Center has ever not seen. His acheivements are beginning to exceed his wishes.

All images courtesy of the artist.

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