Thursday, December 24, 2015

Obliteration Christmas: A tale of friendship, tradition, and the art of the Christmas Stocking

Sometimes, the most endearing holiday ideas are those that are also the most frivolous and ridiculous. For example, every year that I've known Felix Flores I've made him a Christmas stocking. The early year weren't great.  In fact, they were horrible. Maybe even embarrassing. But overtime, the silliness of the exercise took on the status of Holiday Tradition. Felix and I amused ourselves with the surprise, handmade stockings filled with unexpected, funny, and sentimental gifts that usually didn't mean anything to anyone but us. He often told me it was his favorite part of Christmas. (Previous stocking posts are here, here, here, and here.)

With each passing year my production skills improved and I became more adept at manipulating felt, glitter, beads, and rhinestones. The stockings also took on more meaning as insider info made reference to experiences we shared during the year. Like this year when Felix and I visited New York's Gagosian gallery to participate in Yayoi Kusama's Obliteration Room.

Here's how Yayoi Kusama obliterates a room.  She builds a traditional, completely white living space inside a museum or gallery.  Then she invites a bunch of people to "obliterate' the room by placing brightly colored dots of varying sizes all over the colorless surfaces.

The result is this:

I like the tension of Obliteration Room.  The idea of obliteration, destruction, even loss of all that minimalist white space juxtaposed against the pure joy of the whole affair. So even before Felix entered the hospital earlier this year, I started a stocking. I decided to finish it after his death. Here is Obliteration Christmas, the official stocking of 2015

I wanted the stocking to maintain the interactive nature of Kusama's original idea.  So on the front are hand-sewn metal snaps.  The accompanying satchels contain felt dots that the viewer can apply in any configuration he or she desires.

I recognize the frivolity of 18 years of stocking construction. That's a ridiculous endeavor. I also recognize that with the death of Felix this will be the last year I'll get to enjoy this particular frivolity. I suppose that's a sad sentiment. But that's not the intention. Instead it's a reminder, mostly to myself that all those unnecessary, strange, curious things we do during the holidays are the things that help create the most important relationships of our lives. Relationships like the one I had with Felix.

So merry Christmas everyone. And merry Christmas to all those weird, wondrous, and magical traditions.