Go Ahead and Paint Yourself Into a Corner, Lee Lozano
by Kathleen Hart

American artist Lee Lozano, 1930-1999

I know how easy it is, to find yourself dropped
out of a running conversation with the voice of reason.
I’m going to try to rescue you. I’m going to say
that you turned your radio on in the middle of a lecture
on Conceptualism just so you could make the speaker’s voice
fade, to break into wisps, maybe, so you could talk over
its hypocrisy, its willingness to play by the rules.
You wrote in your notebook, “Transistor Radio Piece.”

I’m going to say that when you shut your radio off and invited
the voice of reason back into your studio, it only spoke in static
and snow and between coughs. Which explains why you gathered
the twelve most recent issues of Artforum and threw them up
into the air and let them fall onto their spines, pages flapping,
writing in your notebook, “Throwing Up Piece.”

I’m going to say you enacted "Drop Out Piece" because you could only
hear the voice of reason hissing, I’m not going to argue with you.
So you took paintings from your Expressionist period, your Minimalist
period, a decades’ worth of work in New York, jettisoned
them out your window and watched them smash onto the sidewalk.

And I’m going to say that you enacted the final part of the piece, moving
to your parents’ house in Dallas, because the voice of reason only spoke to you in
the wrong frequency. And so this is where you wrote things in your notebook like
“Masturbation Investigation.” But Lee, I can say that your diagnosis of
terminal cancer resurrected your career. Oh how I want to say that

As you engaged in the art of dying and retrospectives
were launched and artists picked up the conversation
about you again, you could hear the voice of reason
in crosstalk, then sideways, then maybe in the wrong register
but in a sweet cadence.

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