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I bathe in the country's political turmoil. As an artist, I am constantly re-examining the barriers that Culture imposes. I ponder what would happen if these restrictions were to lose their hold upon us. This seed grew into "The Baby Grand Piano."
In 2004, the political climate was infused with fear. Before the re-election, Americans were bombarded with news of heightened terror alerts. "Fear" was a constant watchword. Like any four-letter word worth its salt, fear has the power to enslave.
Our culture enslaves us in many ways, some obvious, and some not so obvious. Women in America are taught from an early age that good girls are rewarded and bad girls -- however that is defined in the local parlance -- are punished (act locally punish globally). Fear is instilled in girls that if they don’t behave "like ladies," they may end up as dead as the women in film noir and horror films.
The years since 9/11 developed into a period in which friends, family and lovers united only in one regard: disagreement. Like the artificial distinction between "good" and "bad" behavior, which creates its own disunity, the fear-mongering that has become prevalent since the terror attack has served no true purpose but to disunite us: Cross the line and die.
Coming from a strict Catholic background, the penis was taboo. It was in this context of fear and disunity that I made a piano keyboard, and each of the keys was a penis. Black penises for the black keys; white penises for the white keys.
I honestly wondered if I could do this project – where did the boundary lay and could I penetrate it without imperiling myself. But with the courage to cross the line one gains the courage to banish fear.
In a small town in the south of Italy, the women brought me their men to photograph. Once I was able to step over the imaginary line, I found that rather than being cast out, I was embraced. I was not "bad," any more than someone too fearful to cross is "good." The shooting of Baby Grand Piano became a celebration of the possibility that the fear was surmountable and that the taboo was just that. In my small corner of the world I was able to banish fear and create a community of transgression.
And yet the transgression is only the beginning. If the piano is only seen for that "transgressive value", then it’s unique piano/organ music has not been heard. The work must be presented in all of its unsheathed glory so that its music may resonate.