Tomio Koyama Gallery is pleased to present Diego Sigh’s solo exhibition “Table for One.” Singh has contributed the following text for the exhibition:
At the moment I go to restaurants, the movies or the gym alone. I am not embarrassed by this, but if I’m dining out, I turn my phone on and pretend that I am talking to someone. How do you do this?
Well, let’s say you are at your usual restaurant and the procedure has to look real since they already know you: You must press something on your phone and when the light goes on your screen (and the people at the restaurant can see it and believe that you are indeed engaged in conversation), you dial your own number.
You will arrive to your own voicemail settings, the standard greeting will sound and then, you should leave yourself a message and chat, chat a lot, don’t worry if you get disconnected, dial again and avoid humiliation. Avoid the pitiful stare of the waiter bringing you a complimentary cookie or whatever he thinks can make you feel better. You are alone, but no one should notice it or they might think you are a freak.
Painting endures all of these circumstances today. Dining on its own references alone with no friends, talking to itself. Painting now more than ever, tries to talk to performance, or video, or photography, or theater, or whatever really, as the demands from the art world are clear: Engage, open up, dial right away and stop the monologue.
What results from this is a conversation that is rarified to the extreme: You, or Painting, would say on the phone: “I don’t really like my friends”; “It’s just like, they are people I work with and our job is being popular and shit”; “Maybe it’s time to take a vacation”; “Aha, yes, yes, of course…Really?”; “What’s your damage?” (Silence on the other line…). Then again: “Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?”… Ok, I’ll call you later.”**
So, after the exhaustion that comes from trying to engage with others, two obvious options for the Painter emerge:
1.- Dine with other people and really be with them while trying to commemorate, preserve, look for consensus, open up your practice.
2.-Be fabulously alone and insist on it. If you go for this one, my advice is to use the Aha’s, the Oh my goshes to your own advantage. Write a press release and do two things at once: explain your exhaustion and love while making absolutely clear that this is just a maneuver that will grant you freedom from style, from expectations; from the glare of the waiter or his extra cookie. (You know you can’t be too grateful to the waiter anyways, or he will expect a bigger tip next time.)
After a fantastic chat on the phone with my best friend, I usually leave the restaurant and go home, knowing that I can enjoy being alone in my underwear, no shoes, bad hair. And more importantly, knowing that through the little effort it entails to dial my own number, I am assuring more years of being able to paint whatever I want – of total aloofness and autism. Of reveling in my own bed, dancing to my own song, dwelling on my neons, my Napoleons, my Liam Gallaghers with elf ears, my smurfs, my stained denims. Cheering on my own inconsistencies, contradictions, delusions, lack of style, lack of compassion, lack of realism, whatever really, MAKING ALL MY RESOURCES STRONGER. FEEDING THEM. Without ever, ever, having to bother with anyone for more than 2 hours per solo show or fine restaurant experience.
Diego Singh. Miami, September 9th, 2011.
**. Extracts from dialogues between Heather and Heather from the movie Heathers, written by Daniel Waters, 1988.