An Awkward Gift is the Best

My last entry was tangentially related to what I’m writing here. It’s a follow-up of sorts, an update. In my last entry I wrote about how I often give images of my face to people. Sometimes I mail these and sometimes they’re given directly to someone. I’ll hand it to them or just leave it in their mailbox without any warning. Rarely do I know what becomes of these items. I’m pretty sure one my friends recently left something I made for them at a public place while I was still with them. There’s nothing better than that feeling when someone opens a package and has the look of “What am I going to do with this” on their face. Some get the joke (if there’s a clear one) and others are confused.

I’ve become infatuated with the idea of the “awkward gift.” Giving something to make another person completely unsure of how to respond. Those sorts of emotions seem a lot more lasting to me. A pretty picture is a pretty picture, they’re everywhere. In effect I’m saying, “Here’s this piece of shit, figure out what to do with it.” I’m giving someone a burden in the shape of “art.” I often imagine there is a negotiation of what to do with it. Do they think of my feelings and put it up somewhere in the house (not a public place) or do they say “fuck that” and hide…or throw it away? I tend to give these sorts of gifts to people who get the joke or who are kind enough to think about what to do with it. If they’re kind then the “awkward gift” has worked. I have plenty of friends that if I gave something like this to would look at it and say out loud “what the fuck is this” and then toss in the trash. That’s no fun; no real emotional terrorism has been negotiated there. The ones that get the joke and laugh are fine, but the ones who have no idea why they’re holding this thing in their hands, are the true targets. Who knows what mail-artists think?
Me, Dillon, Me.
One person I’ve really enjoyed giving these things to is my nephew, Dillon. He gets it, or at least knows that it’s a joke and wants to play along. He’s a good sport even if he isn’t sure why he’s getting another (there’s been a lot) collages of my head. Periodically I mail him my visage or give him one or two or three as a Christmas present. It’s great fun to me.

Recently I had the Tuttle Twins make a bunch of canvas prints of my various creations. Mostly these were designed to make me a little money, which was the case for the most part. I also had them to print a simple digital creation of my face with the word “Hey” at the top. These were only meant to be given as a present. I had four or five of them made.

Obviously I gave one to my nephew. I presented it to him in a parking lot, which seemed appropriate. I painted the frame a horrible yellow color which made it even more difficult to look at. It’s an image that’s impossible not to notice. Even the image I used of my face in a horrific scowl was meant to make the viewer uneasy. The “hey” at the top seemed like a nice neutralizing affect. “Hey, this is ugly” I thought the image might say to the viewer. When I looked at the thing I giggled, so why wouldn’t other people.
I hand the image to him (along with some coins in a jar) and he laughs. He even says that he has the other ones I’ve given him up in his room, like on the wall…displayed. This I didn’t believe but I loved it. In my head I imagined a friend coming into his room, looking up at the collages of my face, and asking “What they hell those are for?” How could you explain them, and if you could explain them, then what is the other person thinking.

“Oh, that is my uncle” my nephew might tell this hypothetical friend.

“Why does he send them to you?”

“He thinks it’s funny.”

“Then why do you have them up?”
Me on the wall.
I’m agitating from afar. I’m inserting myself in conversations that I shouldn’t be in and I like it. If only I can figure out a way to make my eyes follow the viewer as they move throughout the room. Since he’s calling my bluff I have to step up my game. I obviously need to go much, much bigger. I can only win this when my sister says “no more!” Game on.


sheriart said…
Jon, a great idea... I love the humor of it... Keep on doing it.....