Friday, May 16, 2008

California Rules + RIP Reginald Lockett & Robert Rauschenberg

I'm traveling this weekend, so I'm only able to post intermittently, but I just wanted to note the California Supreme Court's recemt ruling, which validated the possibility of same-sex marriage in the Golden State. Or, to quote the Los Angeles Times,

The 4-3 ruling declared that the state Constitution protects a fundamental "right to marry" that extends equally to same-sex couples. It tossed a highly emotional issue into the election year while opening the way for tens of thousands of gay people to wed in California, starting as early as mid-June.

This is huge news. With a population larger than many countries and a history as a pacesetter (cf. Massachusetts as well), the California ruling, if ratified by the legislature and citizenry, may have a huge impact on the fortunes of same-sex marriage in this country. One thing I'd also note is that now that New York's highest state court has ruled that the Empire State can recognize same-sex marriages from other venues, New York could soon be full of same-sex couples as well, and Governor Paterson would probably sign same-sex marriage legislation, so....


I just learned that poet Reginald Lockett has just passed away. For years I only knew him based on his poem "Die Black Pervert," from his early Black Arts Days, which left a bad taste in my mouth, but I later got to know his work more broadly through Cave Canem, and even met him personally two years ago at the Harlem Book Fair.

Reading his work and his messages to the listserv, and seeing what he was up to in with his art, I came to admire him a great deal.

I'm very sorry to hear that he's no longer with us. RIP, Reginald.

Reginald Lockett, at the Harlem Book Fair, Summer 2006

Chris called to ask if I'd heard Robert Rauschenberg passed away. I saw the New York Times's obituary, as well as a few others, and realized that an era had passed. He was one of those icons of post-Abstract Expressionist, pre-Pop art, a signal figure of the 1950s and 1960s, and one of the great exemplars of negative capability, an experimentalist whose wide-ranging work sometimes pushed to the very limits of the banal while often achieving something novel and remarkable. And, in the deep sense of the term, post-modern.

From his monochromes to his combines to the iconic Bed to the rubbings to works such as Rebus, he was also an important leader in cementing the centrality of American art in global art world, as well as in the queering of visual, sculptural and performance art's possibilities in the post-war American art scene, along with John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and his former partner, Jasper Johns. He kept at it until relatively recently, and passed away at his home in Captiva, Florida. RIP, Robert Rauschenberg.


Part of downtown North Adams, Massachusetts, with Mass MOCA in the background

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