Emil Schnellock closed one of his letters to Henry Miller with the line “This is as loud as I can whisper”. I love this line. I’m a loud whisperer. One of my favorite pickup lines I received was ‘I noticed your loud solitude”. Yes, the interior life can be a 3D action film.Since 2011 I’ve immersed myself in the archive and studio miscellanea I inherited from Emil following the death of his sister, my great aunt Dorothy (Shnellock) Greene. During that time I recreated a room at the Hotel Central, Paris in my studio, where Miller, Schnellock, and other voices from the archive are gathered together with posterity to review the human condition in the present. War, running with the herd over a cliff, fear, sexual politics and debate about what is private, public and obscene is with us but I see change….My article about the project was just published in Nexus-The International Henry Miller Journal- thanks Nexus (www.nexusmiller.org)
While developing the art installation ‘Open Letters from the Hotel Central: Correspondence between Henry Miller, Emil Schnellock and Posterity’ I discovered the whisper in the archive:
The male and female doll-couple from China that Emil used as still-life props. They’ve become the yin-yang balancing principle of life that this project is really about. I’ve worked with them extensively and named them Fuxi and Nuwa after the Chinese creation myth characters responsible for keeping the world in balance.
Madame Anna, the fortune teller whose business seal is on the back of one of the envelopes Henry sent from Paris. She represents all the men and women in the margins- those who work and live in the borderlands of the physical/spiritual world. The unnamed prostitutes and anonymous service providers who are engaged in the healing arts
Buffie Johnson, whose 1938 etching of Miller’s friend and cohort, Alfred Perles, is in the collection. I was fixated on ‘Fred’s’ Pierrot-look, every bit the Fool and had not noticed the note on the back ‘Fred, by Buffie Johnson’. I’d never heard of Buffie Johnson- a renowned painter whose work was exhibited in Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of this Century in a group show titled The Women, 1945. She was a good friend of Carl Jung’s and knew from an early age that her work was dedicated to the goddess. In 1987 Lady of the Beasts was published- telling the story of goddess culture through 13 of her beasts. Buffie Johnson and the Lady of the Beasts appeared to me just when I needed them. It was time to return to the present- I was becoming lost in the jungle of words and interior lives of others. The beasts are leading me home.