FREEDOM ISA BONFIRE
15th October until 8th November 2014
“Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.”
Freedom isa Bonfire is a poem, a collection, a mix, a pile of kindling, a way of seeing, an attitude, a joke, an illusion.
I moved to California from the East Coast to follow love. What I thought I knew about Topanga Canyon was based off of words from a few friends, but mostly Neil Young and maybe some tales revolving around Charles Manson. I was quickly greeted by a vastly different reality than the world I imagined. From that time forward I began thinking of new ways to understand my surroundings.
Fast forward to two years later; I’m in Los Angeles listening to the radio in the car and I hear a story about a proposed bill that would ban bonfires on California beaches. There were audio clips of representatives debating the law and everyone kept proclaiming how bonfires are pertinent to the identity of California itself. Sunsets, cold sand, and bonfires are what make California the place that it is. Bonfires even get equated to freedom. At some point, the radio newscaster comes back on and remarks that access to bonfires aren’t necessarily an indicator of freedom.
Since hearing this, I’ve been obsessively collecting scraps of printed material that I find in my day to day. I’ve been curious to see if the identity of a place can be constructed out of it’s print ephemera. Of course, these bits aren’t unbiased. While some of the paper may contain factual information like topographic maps, there are also junk car removal services, landscaping adverts, donut shops, astrologists’ business cards, and so forth. Through the flat waste of California, I’ve come to understand a different side of this place, one that might be easily discarded, but not one removed from memory. There are many methods through which one can know a place. If this collection is not one of them, at least I have plenty of kindling.
“Without effort, confusion, or much thought, four round stones were rolled together on the little beach. The rooster who had challenged the sunrise of this very day lay dismembered and clean in water in the fivegallon can with peeled onions about him, while a little fire of dead willow sticks sputtered between the stones, a very little fire. Only fools build big fires. It would take a long time to cook this rooster, for it had taken him a long time to achieve his size and muscularity. But as the water began to boil gently about him, he smelled good from the beginning.”
On the evening of November 8th, to correspond with the closing of the installation at Good Press, there will be a bonfire on a California beach.
Freedom isa Bonfire.