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Canada : AA Bronson

 

Felix, June 5, 1994

 

Afterthought

I made this photograph of Felix a few hours after his death. He is arranged to receive visitors, and his favourite objects are gathered about him: his television remote-control, his tape-recorder, and his cigarettes. Felix suffered from extreme wasting, and at the time of his death his eyes could not be closed: there was not enough flesh left on the bone.

Felix and Jorge and I lived and worked together from 1969 until 1994. This communal life ended when Jorge died of AIDS on February 3, 1994. Felix followed shortly after, on June 5, 1994.

These bodies are our houses. We live in them as temporary tenants for a few years, for this short lifetime. We inhabit physical structures which mimic our physical form: windows to see, temperature controls, waste disposal systems. We gather these houses to form towns and cities. By day we live in these dream cities as if they were permanent, relatively unchanging, while at night we inhabit the continuous flux of the dream world without questioning its fluidity.

But in fact both are dream worlds, both equally fluid: we might wake up at any time from one and find ourselves in the other.

Felix and Jorge and I lived and worked together for twenty-seven years: during that time we became one organism, one nervous system; one set of habits, mannerisms, and preferences. We presented ourselves as a "group" called General Idea, and we pictured ourselves in doctored photographs as the ultimate artwork of our own design: we transformed our borrowed bodies into props, significations manipulated to create an image, a reality. We chose to inhabit the world of mass media and advertising. We made ourselves the artists we wanted to be.

Since Jorge and Felix died, I have been struggling to find the limits of my own body as an independent organism, as a being outside General Idea. Over the last five years, I have found myself, much like a stroke victim, learning again the limits of my nervous system, how to function without my extended body (no longer three heads, twelve limbs), how to create possibilities from my reduced physicality.

I have had to place Jorge and Felix and General Idea at a distance. This has been difficult, like escaping from my own skin. Dear Felix, by the act of exhibiting this image in this exhibition I declare that we are no longer of one mind, one body. I return you to General Idea's world of mass media, there to function without me.

We need to remember that the diseased, the disabled, and, yes, even the dead walk among us. They are part of our community, our history, our continuity. They are our co-inhabitants in this "Dream City."

 

AA Bronson (Previously published in Canadian Art, Vol. 16, n°. 2 (Summer/June 1999), p. 88.)

 

And now I must speak. I met the three members of General Idea in 1971, when I was working at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. With me, GI presented The 1971 Miss General Idea Pageant - at a time when there was no word for "performance" - and I have been associated with them ever since in many different ways. AA, Jorge and Felix have been friends and colleagues for many years. General Idea has now become history. For me, all of this is a necessary part of Tout le temps / Every Time.

 

Peggy Gale

 

 

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