I had my pink fuck doily on display at the Triton Museum in Santa Clara, California a while back.
It was opening night, artists and guests schmoozing and filling up the place.
A friend came by and told me that someone had turned my doily over.
“Ha! Really?” was my first reaction. It’s pretty much equally readable upside down. I wondered if they were satisfied.
And then I got mad.
This is a museum. Don’t you know the rules of a museum?! You’re not supposed to touch things! I can’t show these things at work, I can’t show them at home, hardly anyone in my classes thinks they’re funny. Can’t I have just one place where it can be out in public but everyone will just leave it alone if you don’t like it? Is that too much to ask? Isn’t that what museums are for? It’s crochet, for heaven’s sake. It’s not going to hurt you.
No, I didn’t say these things but I thought them.
The last show I participated in here, I displayed a book of stringed garbage. You can read all about it here. It involved a lot of garbage and I stored it in a large garbage bag, which was part of the display.
During opening night, people threw their trash in the bag.
At another show with another doily on a small end table, the oblivious artist who won best of show set his wine glass down on it. I politely picked his glass up and handed it back to him. He had no idea why and didn’t even ask.
“So you make unlikely participatory art – deal with it,” Baubo ESP’d to me. I got back to laughing. My friend pointed out the woman. No one in our group knew her. And I didn’t want to cause a scene or make her feel defensive so I didn’t approach her.
Weeks after the show ended, I received a phone message from someone I didn’t recognize. I called her back. She thanked me for returning her call and then said, “I want to apologize for turning your doily over.”
“Ohhh, so this is who this is. Oh, that’s fine. Gee, thank you for calling. I have a hard time finding acceptable places to display these works and I was really hoping that the museum would be an acceptable place and …” I went on.
When I stopped, she quietly repeated herself, “I just want to apologize for turning your doily over.”
“Oh … ok. Thank you for calling.”
I hung up the phone. I was moved that she had made the effort to call me, which involved several phonecalls to get my phone number. But then I was even more moved because it was apparent that she didn’t like the piece but still wanted to apologize. I am still wowed. Thank you, whoever you are.