“Where’s my fucking work?”: Phoebe Gloeckner at CCAD

Phoebe Gloeckner shows us a picture of a hand with a hole in it, a deep hole, the kind of hole you imagined you were digging to China as a kid, and tells us, “So this is my work now.” And she just leaves the hand up while she tells us about how she’s been going to Juarez, Mexico for the past 10 years to work on her new book, about a dead girl named Maria Elena who she’s trying to draw from a xeroxed photograph and some pictures of her skull, and about how she shouldn’t have built 15 inch dolls for the book (they’re becoming unwieldy). She doesn’t tell us how this image, this hole in her (?) hand was made. She doesn’t even tell us that it’s her hand, really. I’ve seen this hand before (at the aforementioned talk she gave at ICAF), but the whole thing starts to seriously weird me out. Then again, most of what Phoebe does weirds me out.

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The hole in Phoebe Gloeckner’s hand.

Stay with me for a minute while I wax academic on hands, because, looking at Phoebe’s hand, reminds me of what Jared Gardner has to say on the subject when he writes, “Graphic narrative…cannot erase the sign of the human hand…The physical labor of storytelling is always visible in graphic narrative, whether the visible marks themselves remain” (for more  bully your local undergrad into giving you access to their university’s library website where you can obtain a PDF of Gardner’s essay “Storylines). I take hands and touch and the felt absence of physical labor as givens when I’m doing “research” on comics for my “studies,” and part of me feels like Phoebe’s doing some sort of secret handshake with Gardner by showing us this image. These are my hands and they’re breaking down trying to put this book together, right? But also, these stories we’re gonna get in Phoebe’s new book about the disappearances and murders of young girls and women in Juarez are gonna rot our hands, make them crumble and implode.

And this is what Phoebe does: she puts her hands on objects, personal objects, love-worn objects, and then she takes her hands off em. She passes them on so that they might be whatever we need them to be. Speaking about Diary of a Teenage Girl, she reminds us, “Indeed, everything that happened to Minnie, happened to me, but you have to destroy reality [to make something like Diary]. If I just published my diary like who gives a fuck?”And later, talking about Maria Elena, the “dead girl” muse that seems to be driving her work on Juarez now, she shows us a picture of the grave stone she bought for her because the on the gravestone Maria Elena had originally, her name was misspelled and they didn’t even get her birthday right. Another destruction of reality, but one to answer a question that seems to have been keeping Phoebe up nights: “What’s anyone remembering of this girl?”

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Phoebe and her “Self Portrait With Pemphigus Vulgaris”. I didn’t take a picture of Maria Elena, sorry.

I wish I could give you back all that Phoebe laid out for us last night, but I am personally obsessing over hands and trying to get my hands to tie all this together. I will say that my personal favorite moment of the night happened during the Q & A when Phoebe told us about how, at 16 years old, she marched up to Last Gasp and Robert Turner “gave me every comic in the place!” But not before he brought out originals by S.Clay Wilson, Crumb, Kominsky and others, promising to show young Gloeckner his “favorite thing about comics.” “He rubbed my hands all over the drawings,” she says. They were feeling for the line, the spark, the energy in the hands that made those panels, like we see Minnie in the movie adaptation of Diary search for Iggy Pop’s dick with her tongue pressed to a poster on her wall.

Visit Phoebe’s website for more on her work in teenage girl’s bedrooms from Juarez to San Fran, as well as musings like: “I just wanna meet Dej Loaf” (same, girl, same.)

P.S. My personal least favorite moment of the night was when I was totally struck dumb while Phoebe was signing my book and stood there like a weirdo. Sorry, Phoebe.

 

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One thought on ““Where’s my fucking work?”: Phoebe Gloeckner at CCAD

  1. Pingback: Mind the Gutter: Sea Urchin by Laura Knetzger | trash queens

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