Home Front, Speier, Painkillers discussed on On Being with Krista Tippett
So for example. In our era of. This weird contradiction of being able to have access to all memory. and. Paradoxically maybe as ruining our memory. It's there at any time so. Maybe, you don't need to hold it as long as normal and I, I really push against that and I feel like artists the forgetting the luxury of our time that artists don't get to have in my opinion I don't. Give myself that. So what that means to me is that. If I'm going to use that bone dust I better know why I'm using it and. Road one the civil war were very important narratives in that body of work. So. Hundred hundred and fifty years removed from those wars. How much can I actually no I'm always hitting speier where I know I can't know every I can't really know and I've never been in war probably never will be and I always acknowledged that acknowledged that but does that mean you don't say anything at all and that to me is always worse so. I tried to. This is a very personal thing. Everybody has to answer different but. I have this motto about. What do I need to do to earn the respect to the material before I will use it? And that can be answered a number of ways but one of them is have I remembered it. In as deeply committed way as possible and. Every project requires made answer that a little differently, but that's still court. So so the memory is. Is Very hard loaded topic to me has many dimensions and that's just one of them. I mean, it's very hard to talk about art. On the radio. Or even in room where we're not looking at something. For example, I did write this down. There's. Project, you had call this a sadness silence can't touch. A small memento box containing six civil war pain bullets, which were the bullets soldiers. Bit. On when they were undergoing surgery. Before the era of painkillers. Made. So what were the just futile that what they were made from Ver- mid from This is a piece that. Language. was being used as a material. And the role of the war poet, which is another one of these genres the. What standing the war poet have anymore in our culture. and. And that you know that history bothers me that we don't. We don't remember these frontline experiences in the war poet is particularly interesting to me because of what I'm saying divide that I feel about one experience what I'm talking about firsthand and some some things I've just not going to be able to. So that we're poets voice is vital memory of. A Thoughtful, reflective mind in. The most worst case scenario of what we can produce on the planet and those voices are important. So those pain bullets may each one's made from a different recording of a war poet? from from different wars. Audiotapes Audio's audiotape mounted downs melted down and then made into an. CAST. The original pain bullet. which so the pinball. They have marks of soldiers, teeth in them. Everybody. Knows that term bite the bullet and this is where it originates to achieve lost context with that history but. It has a much darker background, which is they're literally biting on a piece of lead more than likely as a amputation is occurring, and so those marks as a person sensitive to materials and form when I see a tooth mark in a chunk of lead that's been buried in the ground for one hundred and fifty years it's. Deeply moving to me as anything I've ever seen and. But as a form of forgotten form of memory. I wanted to cast it and remake it in the what I think is the power of. The poets, the voice, and all of these points I should say were chosen because they were forms of protest by the poet. On the Front Line Whitman Tennyson T.. S. Eliot Robert Graves Dylan Thomas. Soon I believe soon. who were all in some way? Commenting on. The actual Hara war as in opposition to the. The honor that the public mean of course, which is a dimension of it they were speaking to. The the gruesome, this of it, which can never be forgotten or lost. But, but as you say in the form of poetry so yes, the gruesome nece of it but. Not The way we get the gruesome -ness of it in the newspaper writing the gruesome gruesome -ness of it in the human voice. Yeah. So in a way that I made the painful because I imagined the poets, the force of their voice, moving their mouth, moving their teeth and making new impressions into to the bullet but their their impressions of of protest rather than the original impression made. From pain of an amputation, for example. So there it was. Very Specific Wyatt chose. Language in a form that was made by the mouth. And that also gets at something that is so evocative that you talk about also as your work as an artist of. Healing back through time. I mean, which is an amazing thing for any of us to think about Yeah I don't. It's my point about I, at least for me as an artist my point about I, don't I don't think I have the right to forget certain things. That I think it's a luxury. Of Our time that should be pressed harder against. But. Healing as Presented itself in different ways in my work over the years. There have been times that I've actually given myself the challenge could I make a medicine that worked? Of which is an odd thing to think about does the public want their artists prescribing the medicine of? and. What's the protocol? Not a sort of thing but But I thought could I not contribute In that way. So I liked that challenge but then it'll go into the much more metaphorical like like in the war work. Could. To me, the biggest problem by seems consistent with every war is the problem of divides, which is between the Home Front and the frontline. Every. Generation of. Warriors comments on the Gulf. They feel when they come back that there's it seems unbridgeable gap between the Home Front? On the front line between the experience they experienced and any sort of meaningful communication with the Home Front. So I feel I felt could part. Could I at least try to? Heal that divide. A. Bob A metaphorical die divide but it's also a real direct psychological. Have Real World consequence if you could initiate a conversation of. Between the home frightened the front line so The healing takes on many forms of my work. How did YOU GET INTERESTED IN WAR You. Are Not really generation. You kind of missed. You missed the Vietnam War more than nine, hundred, seventy two. I mean, of course you live in this we live in this post nine eleven world, but I'm just curious about this. It was. It was nine eleven, absolutely nine eleven, and then that also took you back to civil war and world. War One. When I get involved in a project, I go all in and. I thought if everybody remembers what was the big question and the moment was why? Why US there was this? Complete confusion about how wide in and I was like everybody else. I realized I didn't have a good answer where you in Houston at that time. And I was so frustrated with myself that I didn't I couldn't answer that question. So. It turns as you would expect when you talk about these topics. Of course, it's GonNa take years and years to come to any understanding. A intelligent way to answer that question and I. Still. Not there. You know all these years later and But that's that was what so I decided I'm going to make work. As long as the country was at war I thought okay. Make work in response to it because I was grappling with this. What's the artist's responsibility in time of war? Of course, nobody knew we were entering the longest word in our history and so a decade later I was still making work about the war but I think what's Important. About that is. You know the news cycle. Yes. We've been at world is time in some sense, but the news cycle moves on right we just get reminded of it periodically. Even our political life really hold that awareness, but you've actually as an artist. You've continued to hold that reality and also I think the fact that you're doing it in a spirit of. Of a question, can you heal back through time? The idea of. A sustained meditation on her problem. Seems like this format going out of style.