ZOOKEEPERS: Andrew Mehall and Ben Hall
Saturday November 8th, 7-11pm
Otto: Don’t call me stupid.
Wanda: Oh, right! To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people! I’ve known sheep that could outwit you. I’ve worn dresses with higher IQs. But you think you’re an intellectual, don’t you, ape?
Otto: Apes don’t read philosophy.
Wanda: Yes they do, Otto. They just don’t understand it.
We’ve been thinking a whole bunch about how a serious joke is still built the
same as a regular joke and how isn’t that true of all systems? The more they,
those rascally systems, mirror existing modes of production—like a plant bearing
a seed (natural/commodity/musical/sexual)—the more successful they are
because the receiver doesn’t need to build a new digestive or registry strategy to
understand the material. The receivership is about as ready as the average pit
bull is for a little thumb of tartare—that’s to say accepting verging on grateful.
Rocky Raccoon has this signifyin’ presence, right? It’s the same basic form as
the story of the St.Louis-Christmas murder of Billy Lyons in 1895. That’s the sort
of pre-existing apparatus they’re humping or maybe just bumping into. So not to
denigrate or discount the power of the Lenin/McCarthy axis (after all, they came
together) but to say they straight up lift-n-ape earlier musical traditions reaching
back hundreds of years into West African story telling tradition, and that’s in large
part why it’s so goddam successful. It’s not like you go to the trading post to get
a new mule, and some joker tries to sell you a baby hippo. You figure out where
the very best mules are, and you just go get you a little mule puppy or pupa or
kitten or whatever it’s called. Buying a hippo would be inappropriate. If we’re
imprecise about characterizing the nature of that transaction and its composite
parts, well, then, uh…
We’re trying not to do that old thing where you build a very shallow mythology
and create a few of its recently dug up and discovered artifacts—or that
thing where you give up some stock responses to aftermath. Art typically
makes a series of demands, and often it doesn’t feel like there’s any specific
investigation occurring. In the work or the language around the work, we make
these decisions, but we never have to articulate the consequences of those
decisions. And that kinda sucks, right? It’s not so genuine. It’s not that generous
or particularly generative. We’d like to make a Ginuwine pun here, but we’re way
toooo cool for that move.
So, borne out of these largely dramaturgical conversations Ben and Andrew
had when Andrew was Ben’s gallerist, they decided to try and bring it to
occasion, the aesthetics of their ongoing investigations into all the normal art
stuff: regeneration in sealed ecosystems, non-gendered fucking, kids building
forts, how much can you gift of your own holdings and still have a little left to
move forward, and, naturally, Randy “Macho Man” Savage’s time in the Cardinals
farm system and how Macho’s incredible costuming serves as a postulate for Riff
Raff. We’re thinking less aping and more ape.