The ups and downs of being an autonomous not for profit institution often causes The Museum of Natural Historicity and Phenomenal Nobodies to be confronted by dire fiscal difficulties. But we take heart in our mission, and when the museum is closed to the public we sometimes wander our halls, considering the artists that make up our unorthodox collection. Often, it helps us stave off any anxiety caused by the possibility that we’ll have to close the museum to our beloved museum goers. Of course, sometimes it is not enough. This was the case recently. But then the Museum of Natural Historicity corresponded with the artist David Goodman and it re-invigorated us, reminding us why we got into this business in the first place. We scrambled to learn if we were alone in this re-invigoration. Thankfully, we were not. Goodman is currently in Berlin for a residency project called Post Studio Tales at the District Foundation, curated by Ulrike Gerhardt, Friedemann Heckle and John Beeson; and The Museum of Natural Historicity is proud to have recently obtained and present the writer Aloysius Altman’s take on Goodman and his work. As always, we of Phenomenal Nobodies, wish nothing but the phenomenal for you.
THE BIRDS OF BERLIN
By Aloysius Altman
It’s about the moment when work transcends the connection of being created and launches into becoming a physical force and its own registration in history. -David Goodman
Delaney, the light contained in every thing, in every surface, in every face.”
Once, on LSD I stormed into a clothing store on Broadway, knocked racks of clothing over and demanded that the clerks sell me a coat as if they previously vehemently refused. It was the artist David Goodman who convinced the clerks not to call the police, shelled out the money for the coat, and explained to me that no one was trying to stop me from buying the coat as he whisked me from the store and led me back to the East Village apartment of a friend.
On another occasion, after ingesting and inhaling every illicit substance presented to me in a budget, midtown hotel room, I found myself in Radio City Music Hall, at a concert of a band that I had never heard before, amidst people I didn’t know. I started to nod out. To me, it seemed as if I was falling asleep except that I sensed I was keeling far to one side, then the other, like a dingy in a tumultuous sea. It was the artist David Goodman who whisked me from the concert, walking with his arm over my shoulder from midtown Manhattan, across the Brooklyn Bridge where we then walked down Montague Street, purchased Black and White cookies, and ate them on the promenade, gazing across the East River at Manhattan’s sparkling skyline until I safely fell asleep, my head on his shoulder.
Where did he come from? How did he know I needed saving? The artist David Goodman was always by my side.
I share these anecdotes to neither contradict nor support Baldwin’s assertion. Rather, I share them to make clear that although I’m no Baldwin, he is not the only writer enlightened, even saved by a painter. I also present these cases in an effort to consider what light is, to raise the question of whether or not light is something seen or something felt. Can someone we don’t love teach us about light? If they tried, would we listen?
As to why I had a habit of gorging myself on any mind, body, and spirit altering substance presented, let’s refrain from delving into issues of self-rejection and self-hatred, and say that I, like so many, was in pursuit of light, of not just seeing light, of not even just understanding it, but feeling like light. Every word and every sentence I wrote, every action and reaction was the seeking of this unknowable sensation, how light spills but doesn’t make a mess, how light enlivens but does not swell or suffocate.
The artist David Goodman knows this pursuit of light. Every mark, every gesture of his work testifies to light, the light that is obvious as well as the light we overlook, the light trapped in things.
What Baldwin learned from Delaney is what I’ve learned from David Goodman. The lesson is not light, but the patience and stillness required to recognize and consider light, both that which is within oneself and that which exists around us.
Goodman continues to share this lesson. He does not do so purposefully or in a tone of self-righteousness so he doesn’t come across as pedantic. He shares the experience. Consider this. In his own words, Goodman is currently, “focused on unearthing connection to the present moment… relating through mapping and gesture, my interactions with the world around me.” His initial idea was “to collaborate with Realities United—a light architecture firm—and build both paintings and a light score/composition based on my movements and gestures of creating them. The light would then be projected into the environment of the studio space and surrounding location—in effort to interpret the experience (painting), and project the energy (light) back into the landscape.”
Unfortunately, money became an issue for Goodman. “I ran aground with some budget issues, so I’m re-positioning the project to be more in-line with my energies in the studio and the idea of creating work that begins as a solid form ( a room covered in paper and material) which will then undergo multiple physical transformations to become a series of paintings and constructed books.”
In addition to his work, Goodman has taken up the practice of ornithology since arriving in Berlin. Bird songs come at dawn, celebrating the sun—a very big light. Here is Goodman’s first ever recording of the rarest birds of Berlin. Serendipitously, he shared it with me the morning after I received yet another phone call comprised of recorded threats to cut off my electricity.
What I took from the recording is what I hope you take too. Listen closely, and you can hear Goodman whispering for a friend, us, to be still and listen, and let the light of the birds of Berlin sing in.
LISTEN TO THE BIRDS OF BERLIN**
**Please note, as of 4/22/2012, the German government has charged The Museum of Natural Historicity with intellectual property rights violations and blocked us from sharing these bird songs with you. We hope to rectify this situation shortly. -PN
David Goodman (b.1976) grew up between Somers, NY and currently lives and works Downtown, NYC. Goodman received his BFA at Boston University School for the Arts (’99) and his MFA at Indiana University Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts (’01). Returning to NYC, Goodman became a commissioned draftsman for Macrea-Gibson Architects creating an entire portfolio of work that realized the firms conceptual architectural ideas into charcoal drawings for publication, RFQ’s, and presentations with the NYC Landmarks committee. After a myriad of jobs ( including Assistant Director of After-School Programs for the Art Center at 92Y, Director of Brooklyn College Art Lab, Creative Consultant for RxArt, Studio Manager for Vito Acconci) he became the Creative Director of Online Sponsorships for the legendary publication BOMB Magazine where he helped to develop and launch the publications new online content and presence. Goodman developed an interview series BOMB on the Inside engaging in conversation with creatives like Sarah Thornton, Eric Shiner, Vadis Turner, Mark Borthwick, Glenn O’Brien, Heather Hubbs, Lisa Cooley, Amir Morgharabi, Nathalie Ours-Choussat, Shamim Momin. After a short stint at Artlog.com as Editor-In-Chief, he returned to fully focus on his own creative pursuits.
Aloysius Altman makes his home in London, England. His poetry and fiction have been published extensively. He earned a Masters Degree in Bio-mechanical Domineering and Poetry from Culombia University. He has received numerous awards and renunciation from honorable and reprehensible institutions and tastemakers. He earns his living as a fishing guide. His debut novel, The Business of Pornography, will be published by F$G in October, 2012.