I'm back from Berlin. In a previous post, I promised that I was going to write publicly about my experience with CSA and my father. I received a lot of encouragement from the folks here at Male Survivor, for which I thank every person who commented. Those thoughts were in my mind often in the past weeks.
I did write that piece for my art blog, it took the form of an interview with a Los Angeles artist who recently became father. We talked generally about fatherhood, and I revealed my father's abuse of me. I did not go into the story deeply, I simply stated the fact of his sexual abuse and anger and violence. If you'd like, you may read the piece here: http://notesonlooking.com/2013/08/karl-haendel-and-geoff-tuck-thinking-about-fatherhood/
During the time I did this interview, something else happened to me. I was offered a show in Berlin, an art show. I began working on the paintings just as I learned of the death of L.A.D., and that news struck me so deeply that I knew I had to make work in his honor. It came to me to make a bed, with large paintings for sheets and blankets. I would invite people to get in the bed, and to dream and to read. Another part of the bed piece (which I titled "Bingo Bongo Bed") is a book that I recently published for this purpose, with selections from my website. For me, this book documents my travels through life, discovering myself as a writer and artist. Freeing myself from my past. It takes the form of reviews and conversations with artists by me, and writing by my friends.
As I worked on this piece, the bed came to represent my childhood bed, where my father would stand and watch me, and then come to me and do to me what he did. The paintings came to represent all the sadness and the hope I found in the posts here by L.A.D. His story was very like mine, but I was allowed to survive. As I think of him now, L.A.D.'s life gave me hope, and his death brought me sadness; but what I am left with by both is the possibility of survival. I feel lucky, where he was not.
Above is a link to the bed, and below is the view I prefer: the bed filled with people.
Below is the text I wrote for the exhibition checklist to describe the bed:Bingo Bongo Bed
Various weights of muslin, acrylic paint, dirt from Parkfield, fancy window-curtain fabrics, crewel embroidery thread, mattress, book, people.
by Geoff Tuck
A bed. Sheets painted with cheerful, yet pathos-evoking characters. A book with references to a real, and yet almost legendary city. As a whole, perhaps this bed is a landscape: a landscape for fantasies and for histories and for nightmares. A place to be born, a place to make love, a place to be alone, a place to die. A place to be violated, a place to sleep. A dreamscape where we meet the consequences of our actions, and where our familiars are the actions of the parents, who made us.
If it is true, as Bertolt Brecht quoted in his song Denn wie man sich bettet, from Aufstieg und fall der Stadt Mahagonny, that “Denn wie man suich bettet, so liegt man / Es deckt einen da keener zu / Und wenn einer tritt, dan bin ich es / Und wird einer getreten, dann bist’s du”
(For as you make your bed, so you must lie on it / No one will tuck you in / If anyone does the kicking it will be me / if anyone gets kicked, it will be you), then I would propose that within the bed that we all make, and that is made for us, there lies the possibility of transcendence, indeed of liberation.
I invite you to lie in my bed and read from my book of dreams.The Bingo Bongo Bed
is dedicated to the memories of two men: to my father, whose choices in life caused me so much sorrow and confusion; and to Bryan Thomas White, a young friend who called himself Life’s a Dream (L.A.D.), and who struggled bravely to find transcendence and freedom. These two men spent their lives on opposite sides of the fact of childhood sexual abuse, my father as a perpetrator, my perpetrator, as we say in the CSA community, and L.A.D. as a survivor. They both died trying to escape.
I offer my appreciation to Karl Haendel, whose film, Questions for My Father
, encouraged me on this journey.
Geoff Tuck is a Los Angeles and Parkfield-based writer and artist. Tuck has presented his paintings and sculptures at Commonwealth and Council and at JB Jurve. Tuck’s writing has been published in Zeitschrift
, issue Déjà vu
(January, 2012) and in X-TRA Contemporary Art Quarterly
. Tuck is the founder of Notes on Looking