Conversations on Love and Commitment

Lynne McCabe

Conversations about love and commitment consisted of a series of interviews with various residents of the Tenderloin where I asked the participants what love and commitment meant for them. I also asked if there was a book or a film that they could share with me that they felt spoke to their feelings on the subject. These books were collected into a library, which was then installed in the Luggage Store Annex, a gallery on Ellis Street, against a backdrop of a wall painting of a map of the neighborhood. An adjacent love seat provided a comfortable place to sit and listen to the interviews as one perused the library. The interviews were also available via the Tender Transmissions radio station and hotline.

After a short while it became apparent that residents of the Arlington Hotel, and in particularly Mr. George La Francis, were becoming more and more invested in the project. George wanted to contribute to our opening and so he created a pasta dish which he and I cooked on the fire in the tenderloin national Forrest, a greened ally situated beside the Luggage Store Annex and served to the public at the event. During our conversations George had told me that he was a jazz drummer but had little opportunity to play since moving to the Tenderloin, and so as part of our closing event, which was a showcase for the talent that had emerged during the proceeding months of recording, George performed a drum solo and generously accompanied the other singers and performers.

We have continued our collaboration and are currently working on a cookbook that George has wanted to create for some time. As part of this project and to further my own understanding of my practice I asked George to sit down with me and talk about his experiences. The interview is the result of that meeting.

Over the course of a number of years my practice has developed as an exploration and critique of the idea of collaboration, existing not only to facilitate community, or collective engagement, but as a means to examine the social and cultural currency of exchange that takes place within these historical modes of artistic production. I have often used the site of the conversation as a tactic to resist what Maurice Blanchot describes in his book, ́The Writing of the Disasterî as the death of thought at the hands of writing, creating a space of negotiation and equivalence, to come into being.