“Bess’ Pill,” By Andrew Choate
- Source: Andrew Choate
- Year: 2013
- Submitted by: Elana Mann
As part of KCHUNG‘s residency at the Hammer, I did a set in the Hammer courtyard before Robert Gober and Elisabeth Sussman’s talk on Forrest Bess. Read here for details about that set and my project with Bess’ paintings. I prepared more Bess paintings for the same treatment, but didn’t have time at the Hammer to perform them. Here is one of them.
For Bess’ Untitled (No. 11), which I subtitle “The Pill”, I chose to start from the inside of the frame, rather from the outside or from left to right. In the middle is an oval-shaped pill with a dark, vivid blue on top that forms a triangle at the bottom and is dark purple on the other side of the pill. I started with Charles Mingus’ “Peggy’s Blue Skylight” to capture some of the lightness that comes through the dark blue, and then juxtaposed and layered it with “Purple Dust” by the 1950s electronic music pioneer Daphne Oram. I wanted to both juxtapose these two songs and hear them together, swallowed as if in pill form.
When the Mingus track ends, we hear the very end of the Velvet Underground’s “White Light/ White Heat.” It’s the dirtiest sounding white I could think of, which is right because the white in the background of this pill form is cakey and messed up and faded and almost stepped on. There is a lot of this ‘white’ on the painting, but very little in my sonic recreation because I wanted to emphasize the central, pill-like form, which is what the white in the painting does.
The outer edge of the painting is smeared black, so we cut into Mike Cooper‘s “The Black of Me” from his 2010 album Blue Guitar. In the bottom right corner of the painting lie a small series of peach-colored smudges, which is very unusual for the typically symmetrical––or at least balanced––Bes