Saturday, October 27, 2018
Berlin is not a super metropolis with out heart. It might still have a center but it has a lovely village feel of course I mean that in an urban sense. Every part seems autonome but at the same time reflect a certain liberal leaning Experimentism that allows for the induvial to develop a sense of place and yes offers a reality check of what is truly possible. Not everything is green in this German capital and their is a constant weeding out happening from the dreamers to the idealists who soon find that no place contains the utopia they imagine but never the less one can build one here temporary to proof ones ability to manifest. Berlin is the most un-german city which makes it especially desirable to visit as multiple histories overlay and compete for our attention.
Monday, October 1, 2018
photo credit by Mike Syers
Interview with artist/activist Jay Crichtley
What was your upbringing like and were you encouraged to be creative?
It was hell but I made the best of it. I was raised in a very functional family
- that can be stressful! Six sisters, two brothers. Catholic school, altar boy, honor
society. We spent every summer on my aunt and uncle’s tiny island in Long
Island Sound near New London, CT. It was like the dune shacks here in the
Cape Cod National Seashore – no electricity or running water. Big old tumbling
down house that I helped my uncle rebuild with only hand tools. It was terribly
idyllic. Five of my sisters and I sang barbershop music professionally, appearing
on national TV with the 1950s version of American Idle.
You call yourself a born again artist what do you mean by that and what qualifies
one as an artist?
I arrived on this earth a blank slate and at the age of 33 I had a
calling – a channeling if you will – and I was reborn, anointed as myself! I started
making and doing things with my hands and people asked me if I was an artist. I
said I didn’t know. I just was compelled to try to make sense of my world.
What others artists inspired you to step into this role?
I was reborn this way, it’s my orientation, I had no choice – go with the flow. But I was inspired by Walt
Disney, Droopy, James Brown, Jesus, the man behind the curtain in the Wizard
of OZ, Elvis and Joseph Beuys.
What labels as an artist are you comfortable with?
Have you always been drawn to social critical art or would you use a different
term? For me it’s the art of survival. Somehow I have the good fortune to have
the wherewithal to fill my time with rhapsodic thoughts, experiences and deep
What makes Provincetown a good place to be rooted?
It’s not enough to root oneself to a place or ideas, I needed to re-root myself in
my own inimitable way. I was able to do that in Provincetown and created an
annual ritual and purging ceremony for the community, the planet and myself:
Re-Rooters Day Ceremony, the International Re-Rooters Society (IRS), formed
What is the Provincetown Community Compact and what
is the purpose of the Harbor Swim for Life & Paddler Flotilla?
The Compact was founded in 1993. We are celebrating our 25th anniversary. Our
mission is to nurture community. I wrote this about it:
I love to swim and so many friends died of AIDS that it seemed intuitive to
connect the two. My friend Walter and I were inspired by magnificent
Provincetown Harbor in 1988 and decided to swim across it. We announced the
first Swim for Life two weeks later. It’s has raised close to $6M for AIDS,
women’s health and the community.
What are some of your favorite art installations and what had inspired you to present
them to the public?
All my work is for the public rather than an art audience. I was responding to real
time issues that needed an alternative perspective and vision. Early in my work I
realized how overly influential corporations were in the cultural and political
landscape, so I decided I would subvert that platform and become CEO of
entities that dealt with nuclear and energy issues (NRC – Nuclear Recycling
Consultants), Plastic in the marine environment, T.A.C.K.I., Tampon Applicators
Creative Klubs International (gathering “beach whistles” washed up on beaches
from faulty sewage systems), and others.
How important is recognition and fame in an artists life as a motivator?
As an Irish-American Catholic, growing up with eight siblings in a strict religious
household, the goal was to be normal, don’t draw too much attention to yourself,
just fit in. My mother’s favorite Latin quote was: “De gustibus non est
disputandum”, loosely translated means each one to his/her own taste.
Needless to say, we have very different tastes! There’s a lot of guilt to expunge before I felt
OK about pursuing and receiving recognition. Art making is like sex, are we ever
satisfied? We strive, we desire, we have fantasies, but do we ever reach
fulfillment? Dear, this is sounding awfully Buddhist!
What do you mean with the term global health and how can individuals step up to
Pathogens are taking over the planet – like aliens! You may know
the song, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me”? I say, “Let there
be piece by piece on earth...” Our bodies are living laboratories, we need to
deconstruct and understand our own biological map and celebrate it before we
can harness the energy to help our fellow animals, human and non-human.
Lots of your art deals with consumption and the side effects of it, do you have a
more perfect vision for how we can live on this planet and what would it look like?
If everyone stopped complaining and went back to the basics: the gym workout
without the latest stretch fabrics and tech gizmos, just sweating it out with no air-
conditioning – unless you can afford a fanboy to keep you cool, no boutique
water, no plug-ins, trancing sounds and squeaky new athletic footwear. Three-
minute shower max.
The dealing with the power structure of corporations what can the individual do to
shift that paradigm in there favor?
If corporations can be people, why can’t people be corporations? Become the
thing you detest.
"If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't
part of ourselves doesn't disturb us." -
I gave a TEDx Talk: Portrait of the Artist as a Corporation:
What inspired Old Glory Condom Corporation?
It became evident in 1989 that we needed a new definition of patriotism – not to
kill but to protect and save lives. Old Glory Condoms – worn with pride country-
wide, were imprinted with the stars and stripes of the American flag - it seemed
like the ideal way to challenge the government’s inaction about HIV. Filing for a
US Trademark forced the government to deal with the issue. They said it was
immoral and scandalous to associate the flag with sex. After a three-year legal
battle and global media coverage, I was granted the trademark.
What is the purpose of art according to you?
It’s an existential question. Challenging the fear we have learned in a capitalist
society that values consumption over personal integrity and acceptance. We
speak from our core of who we are and remind everyone of our humanness. Life
is daunting and requires surprising responses.
How do you reach out to get your art seen and what's you process and criteria for
You keep trusting in yourself and your intuition and ideas. You
create a supportive community. You hold onto your voice and vision. When you
apply to something you let it go and move onto the next project or idea. Santa
Fe Art Institute was a fantastic oasis for those pursuing creative social justice. Of
the 15 residents, there were visual artists, an environmental activist lawyer, two
curators, a First Nation healer from Canada and a couple of writers (only fours
I designed and built The Whiteness House – tarred and feathered – 14 feet wide
by 7 feet high and deep. It dealt with race, ethnicity and whiteness. Tarring and
feathering is an ancient way of humiliating and bullying a person. The piece is
interactive and collaborative and built to easily travel (looking for venues for the
What's next besides the Swim for life on an international level?
Refugees, immigration, race and bigotry – these issues are geopolitical and
global, and Germany is in the middle of it. One curious connection to the US is
Germany and Europe’s fascination with American Indians, which of course we
tried to kill off and still treat horrifically.
I’ve attached a play about surveillance with Edward Snowden, Putin, Obama and
Mario Savio (leader of the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley, CA in 1964). It
was a proposal to recreate in Germany with Merkel.
And of course, technology has enhanced super corporations/monopolies –
holding down wages and creating global inequality.
I close with Commandment # 1 from my Re-Rooters Day Ceremony (Preemptive
Cheats – evitpmeerP staehC)
January 7, 2018, Provincetown Harbor:
Complicit corporate creep is the Lord Thy God and Thou shalt not eclipse
unsheltered growth-stocked storm surges before me.