— I’ve been reading my old diaries for a new project. Here are four passages that stuck out to me.
Accountability —> she needs to matter
I hate dream stories. They’re so annoying. Every morning my sister tells me her dreams. Last night I had a dream that the Geico gecko went down on me. That means that your love for that campaign has gone too far. Last night I had a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” That wasn’t you, that was Martin Luther King Jr.. Black history month is getting to you. I’m really good at interpreting dreams.
I get bored of everything in real life. All the characters are so predictable and they keep making the same mistakes. I’m trying to get myself out of this rut, but it’s hard. I forget why I ever wanted to do anything. I’m always disappointed. Maybe my expectations are too high.
“Do all African-Americans have curly eyelashes?” Joan asked while squinting at me. “I don’t know,” I replied doing my best not to sound the least bit offended. “I think mine are curlier than most.” She squinted for a few minutes longer and went back to her easel. I stared at an old drawing of a big head. They were making a drawing of me. My eye would lose focus after a minute and I hope it didn’t look dead. I wanted to look like I had “something going on in my head.” Nancy once told me about a girl who modeled for her that was clearly not thinking anything. I didn’t want to be like that. I sat on a white chair on two ratty beaded pillows. I stared off at the big head and thought about my poor life for three hours. Joan offered to drive me to the train. Even though she’d confessed earlier that she’s supposed to wear glasses when she drives, I took her up on the offer. I had nothing to lose. Although the entire ride I imagined us getting into a horrible wreck. In the car she asked me if I was having fun in life. “I am,” I told her sincerely. She remembered for a while about how much fun she had in her twenties and I sat back and listened. Joan turned 73 last month. She spent her birthday in Paris with her husband. I tried to imagine her husband with no luck. I was convinced she was lesbian. A stereotypical lesbian with short hair, a gruff, go-get-it attitude, no make up, no dresses. Although, or maybe because, that could describe me I had my suspicions. “Is your boyfriend black too” She asked curiously. “No he’s white.” I sensed her discontent. “Well, diversity is good” she offered. I nodded.
Martine Syms was born in 1988, in Los Angles. Her artwork has been exhibited and screened extensively, including recent presentations at Karma International, Bridget Donahue Gallery, the New Museum, Kunsthalle Bern, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Index Stockholm, MOCA Los Angeles, MCA Chicago. She has lectured at Yale University, SXSW, California Institute of the Arts, University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins University, and MoMA PS1, among other venues. From 2007–11, she directed Golden Age, a project space focused on printed matter. She also recently founded small press Dominica.