Terry Allen:
Works from Dugout, Ghost Ship Rodez and Others
October 09 —
December 29, 2013


Terry Allen

"The inner life of any true artist has the traits of three essential characters: children (they are innocent), criminals (they break rules), and the insane (they inhabit another world). Artaud lived this construct precisely, consistently reaching beyond everything…body, language, sex, society, disease, God, and art itself…whether in word, image, object or performance. —Terry Allen

THE INNOCENT: The river propels the artistic vessel along, through drawing to poetry to melody to moving image with an uninterrupted vigor and innocence that can only be accomplished with gravity in song, sculpture, image-making and poetry; weakness in one, and the river dries up; a knee is skinned. 

THE DECEIVER: Nature has been kind to Allen even if he at times does not reciprocate, deceiving her with the prospect of clear waters. In the end, his twisted and winding narratives shed the ghosts of the linear in favor of a ship constructed solely from artifacts and essentialities.

THE MADMAN: "The artist feeds the wood chipper pages of writing, deeply haunting images, audio-visual equipment, Hell’s bells and assorted secret ingredients. When the chips settle, a landscape forms out of the rubble; a forest of curiosities that have through some divine intervention plotted the path of a madman; the artwork of Terry Allen." Tim Nye

In Ghost Ship Rodez: The Momo Chronicles, Allen pursues a fictional investigation of what may have happened in the mind of French artist, playwright and actor Antonin Artaud during a 17 day journey restrained in the dark hold of the freighter Washington in 1937, and later, in various mental institutions. While living in France, Artaud had obtained a walking stick that he considered was the staff of Jesus Christ handed down to St. George. In 1937, Artaud journeyed to Ireland to return the staff to its country of origin. However, while there, he experienced a series of extreme mental and emotional crises that culminated in a violent altercation with Dublin police. Artaud’s subsequent deportation to France was a grueling journey, which he spent straitjacketed and chained to a metal cot in the bowels of the ship.

Allen developed this visual and sound-based exhibition from his ideas and sets for a theatre piece, also titled Ghost Ship Rodez. The theatre work was first commissioned in 2005 by Les Subsistances Laboratoire International, Lyon, France and the Texas-French Alliance in Houston. It was further developed at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in 2008, and The Lensic Performing Art Center in association with SITE Santa Fe. In this sound-based piece, acclaimed actress, writer and artist Jo Harvey Allen performs as the voice of Daughter of the Heart, a clairvoyant chameleon and multi-voiced narrator. (Artaud regarded all the important women in his life as his Daughters of the Heart to be Born.) 

Ghost Ship Rodez (A Radio Play)is also available on CD. The exhibition will also feature two large-scale video/sculpture works: Ghost Ship, 2010, evokes the environment of the ship hold and the cot to which Artaud was laid captive, and includes screens with projected excerpts of films in which Artaud performed. The second, MOMO Lo Mismo, 2010, is a video-based multi-screened installation presented in marionette form, with projections of Jo Harvey Allen’s Daughter of the Heart performance.

Dugout is a multi-venue, multimedia art exhibition and theater program by Terry Allen first exhibited in Los Angeles spring 2004. Initially written, directed, and produced by Terry Allen as an audio drama for New American Radio and presented on NPR in 1994, DUGOUT has evolved into a three-part series that includes writing, multi-media art works, installations, a music theatre piece, CD and/or DVD, and book. 

Dugout is a made-up world, constructed and based on the true stories and lies I heard and experienced as a boy growing up in the flat sprawl of Texas. It is about baseball and music and a man and woman who play them across the endless idea of America during the late 19th-century and the first half of the 20th-century. It is about the unexpected arrival and continuing shock of their teenage ‘kid’ (WARBOY)—not to mention his own shock. Dugout is a love story; an investigation into how memory is invented… a kind of Supernatural-Jazz-Sport-History-Ghost-Blood-Fiction.” —Terry Allen

Terry Allen is a visual artist, songwriter and musician, who has received numerous awards and honors, including Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and induction into the Buddy Holly Walk of Fame. In 2009, Allen became a United States Artists Oliver Fellow. His art has been shown throughout the United States and Europe, and is represented in major private and public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.