What space is
opened in this trace of a performance? It is the drama of
my undressing, the covering of my uncovering, a personal
and political revolt.
Initially it appears to be a death mask: eyes are closed,
covered with clay coins to pass safely into the recesses of
body and memory. Yet it becomes apparent that the work does
not give itself to death but dramatizes an event of rebirth
that---for whatever reason---only this earthen clay can
The word that guides Frame's work, mnemismus, refers originally to burial mounds and the memorial festivals that took place at these sites to remember the dead. And yet something else is at work in the clay: a sense of being woken with faint memory, a sudden recollection that I have been here before. The earthen clay is the site of my burial and my excavation.
I feel in the cool, damp clay a sense that I am trespassing on the land of strangers. They bid me welcome---"Welcome to a place of exile." The trespass opens up an entirely new space---a sky of evening stars and ancestry. It is something like the space of a novel, something like the composite of clay, in which I write of a coming sand storm---which in fact, came long ago---that will recover the American plains. I write of the "crazy aunt" who tells me of distant relatives---natives to this Kansas land. The memory goes down, down, down as the clay goes down into my pores and down into my body. I enter a space of singularity. Of absurdity.
I cannot help but notice that this modest, clay revolt disturbs an order that is greater than my own: an order that is deeply political. The mask is a kind of disguise I wear, going about in a wretched world as a quiet stranger with loud revolution in my glazed over eyes. It is the absurdity of turning inward as a means of political revolt, which, ever since Plato closed his eyes and went down, down to the place of Piraeus, is the way revolution has begun. I cannot help but see a new city being forged in the composite of this earthen clay. I hear the disquiet of art, of Proust’s Recherche, now audible in Frame’s Relics.
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