It sounds like your creativity is pretty much ruling your life?
I live in extremes most of the time., but I can get a lot done very quickly when creating. If you’re talking other Doc Deem releases, I did The Pepper Room and Steenykill in the same night. Christmas Eve. It’s how I remember dates. Thankfully I can justify doing absolutely nothing with a day sometimes because the day before I wrote 40 pages. Or we shot that half hour short film in one day, no rehearsals; we just went in and killed it. So it’s like, ‘Take that, motherfucker’ to my creative demons that don’t let me sleep. But if I have a few too many days without producing something, I fall into chaos. It makes relationships with people difficult because sometimes I can drive them insane, but we can also have some of the most beautiful, happy times. I feel like if I can maintain a healthy balance of plenty of surfing, I would be able to sustain perfect happiness all the time. If only life worked that way, ya got shit that comes up and there’s no waves for a while and then I lose my fucking mind on the people I love. And when there’s no one else around to help soak up some of the damage, that’s when I’m really gone.
On the creation of track Where the Beats Say They’re Sorry
“I remember I had a dream and this guy actually said, “This is where the beats say they’re sorry” and there was this beat playing that kinda sounded like it was talking, like it would start and stop. I tried to get that into the track when making it. All of the tracks on Cloud Rat were recorded quickly. Most Doc Deem is about just waiting and waiting until a good day and then I sit and knock it out. I’m like a surfer. The tide has to be right, I wait for the waves. Then when it’s good, I get on my board and get as much surfing in and then go home.
I like it to be spontaneous and explode my guts all over the track, and then just walk away from the wreckage like nothing happened. Feeling real cool about it, like this is it; time to surf.”
Doc Deem on the creation of Cloud Rat. Excerpt from upcoming interview, stay tuned.
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“Deliciously aching with the desire to outdo myself. This divine dissatisfaction is the sign that something is growing inside my soul which will give me great satisfaction. At dusk I look out of the window at Gala, who seems to me to look even younger than the evening before. She is sailing in her new boat. In passing, she tries to caress our two swans which are standing on a little dinghy. But one flies off and the other hides under the bow.”
Excerpt from Diary of A Genius
Dali’s ‘Swans Reflecting Elephants
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“Because of a very long fart, really a very long and, let us be frank, melodious fart, that I produced when I woke up, I was reminded of Michel de Montaigne. This author reports that Saint Augustine was a famous farter who succeeded in playing entire scores.”
I wake up; open my eyes and I just know that I have done something. My thought process changes a bit and I feel a migraine coming on. I know that I have done something, but not what I have done.Then I have a migraine for 5-6 hours, because of the exhaustion.
Excerpt from interview with the “Sleep artist” Lee Hadwin
“By hook or by crook, I hope that you will posses yourself of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream.”
Virginia Woolf, 1928, excerpt from A Room of One’s Own
“..it is very hard to always be very strong, but I try to do it, and to have a lot of courage and faith. It is not that I am doing the right thing; I am doing the only thing I can do. There is no other way I can do my work. I cannot think about what will happen and who will see it and what will they think? I can only do what my heart says, because if I lie… I cannot lie. The artwork will not let me lie. I think it is beyond me, really, beyond me as a person and as an artist.”
“To understand a Boystown it is necessary to appreciate that in the borderland there are a number of divides; geographic, economic, religious and cultural. In a maquilladoro, a factory on the Mexican side of the border often owned by an international business, a woman might earn eight dollars a day. Working as a prostitute she will earn $40 to $120 for thirty to forty five minutes. The client usually pays $10 to $20 to the club for the rental of the room. Two clients a night seems to be average. For the prostitute there is a performance in doing her job well and conforming to the expectations of the customer. In some clubs if the client does not have an orgasm he can demand his money back for services not successfully rendered. His payment will be
The morgue happened for me when the Vietnam War ended, a war which I saw as an obscenity. We were still watching stuff on television and listening to things like “We got 43 and a half of them and only two and a half of us!” That is weird, to watch dinner while you are watching people being blown away. I was fortunate to get out of the draft. The whole thing didn’t make sense to me and in 1972, when I decided to make the morgue pictures, it was a different world and Rhode Island was a small place. I went up to the Attorney General, who was probably the only honest politician around at the time, and told him about what I was interested in. His office was across the street from where I went to school, which at that point still had a good reputation, and we talked for an hour. Finally he said “I don’t see any problem with what you propose. We are not the best department, but we don’t have anything to hide.” There was a little bit of delay in terms of formal letters, but then I was given permission over the telephone. His secretary shouted to him “It’s a photographer guy; he wants to know if he can go to the morgue?” And that was it!
You also went to some people’s homes?
Yes, there were pick-ups. Since I had clearance the police let me in.
In your video Mitzvah Tantz from 2005, we see a Jewish ceremony intersected with video footage of your belly-dance followed by flashes of an Arabic belly dancer towards the end. Mitzvah Tantz means ‘mitzvah dance’ or ‘commandment dance’ and this is the tradition of the men dancing before the bride on the wedding night, after the wedding has taken place.
There is an air of you struggling towards something, your mind appears to be slightly bothered and interfering with the movement of your body as your eyes stare thoughtfully into space, possibly watching the video while you are dancing. You are lightly dressed in a plain white belly dancing outfit that is designed to evoke desire and passion and to allow the body to move freely without restriction.
How did you learn belly dancing, did you teach yourself or did you study?
Well I knew for a long time that I wanted to learn belly dancing and I don’t know what comes first; my art or my life? Because many times I combine my passions in my art and it is like an excuse to learn something or to go through an experience. I tell myself that it is for the art. For a long time I wanted to make work about belly dancing, but it took me years to feel like I was ready. Belly dancing is very provocative and very erotic. You have to be a woman, you cannot be a girl and I just didn’t feel like I was ready. And then in 2005 for my final year of the BA at Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem, I was determined I would do it. I studied in various studios, under several teachers, but I studied mainly in Jerusalem at a Centre for Dance called Arabesque. After I made this piece in 2005 I became a belly dancer dancing professionally. I was even on TV with it and I taught it as well. I have the funniest stories of ending up dancing on bars, almost falling over all the bottles. One night I was dancing in front of my art teachers by mistake, but they didn’t recognize me. I fell off the bar and landed straight near their table saying ‘”Hi!” They couldn’t believe their eyes! I also made my own costumes, because I didn’t have money to buy professional ones.
Photo: Stills from Mitzvah Tanz, 2005, All rights reserved
When I became a teacher I developed a certain way of teaching combining contemporary dance with belly dancing and Tantra. It is all about freeing your pelvis; your inner woman and your passions. You really have to be freed and I used to be very tight, very in control all the time and I only let myself go when I made art. So it was very hard for me. Eventually, for the video Mitzvah Tantz, I recorded myself learning. What I show in the video is the process of learning; it is not a great amazing sexy dancer. It is a child learning to walk. It is the clumsy awkward movement; it is the body not doing what the mind wants it to do. It is the lack of control and too much control. I would take out the camera from school, position it in front of me in my room and practice, wearing provisory outfits, like a scarf wrapped around me. When I looked back at it, all those moments when my body didn’t do what I wanted it to do; I loved those specifically. I concentrated only on two movements out of the entire dictionary of dance and I repeated them throughout that whole film.
In Mitzvah Tantz, and with my painting at the time, I wanted to show the moment when a woman stops being innocent, when a woman sees that she is being looked at for the first time. The first time a woman realizes that she has a man’s gaze on her and she blushes. The first time a woman exposes herself to a man. I thought “Where is this innocence?”