Countdown: Interview with My Mom and Dad

Lydia Glenn-Murray


My position on GRAPHITE is new this year. We are adding a programming element, so I am planning events, sparking collaborations, and developing new modes of interaction beyond the blog and print journal. I am so excited for our first event, Open – Table, which will take place at an old Chili’s restaurant space as part of the Hammer’s ReSTORE La: Westwood. I had my my mom (Betch) and dad (Douglas) take me to lunch today and interview me about the event. We reflected on collaborative processes, marriage and bouncy castles.

B: What’s the attribute that you most favor in a collaborator? What’s the thing that makes you think, woah, I want to work with this person?

L: I don’t know, maybe flexibility, or courage, or… I don’t know…

B: I think it’s a good thing to begin to know.

L: Or maybe, like, supportiveness. It’s important to have the comfort to take risks together. I love it when a project feels like its really shared.

B: One person isn’t the “helper.” You’re a partner. It’s like marriage!

D: Yes!

B: It really is. You want someone who’s a partner, not someone who just says “What do you want me to do?”

L: Yeah.

D: I’m wondering what you think you might specifically be doing on the day? What’s your experience going to be like?

L: I’ll probably be running around trying to make sure everything’s going smoothly but I’m also going to try to participate as much as possible. I’m really curious to know what’s going to happen and what the audience perspective might be like.

D: May I comment?

L: Yeah!

D: I remember going to fundraisers for Monteverde [your preschool in Oakland, CA] and Monkstown [Educate Together National School, your primary school in Dublin, Ireland], and even though we were working behind the stall or running the bouncy castle or something, there’s fun just running the thing and seeing what people do but there’s also a sense of trying to get people who are lingering and looking on to lose their inhibitions and do something, to have fun! So you can kind of be a model for those people. They don’t have to know you work there – you just say “Oh wow! This is so cool! Have you tried that?”

B: It’s also amazing though, if people identify you as being the person who puts something together – like thinking of the bouncy castle, and that kind of thing – how quickly people ascribe you the attributes of a leader or someone with authority, like “Okay, you know,” and you’re just thinking “F*** I don’t know! I’m just starting out!”

D: Right, you’re the bouncy castle person. You’ve got a degree in bouncy castle-ology. And they’ll defer to you.

B: Very quickly! You take on a mantle of something and then that’s what you are to people. I find that to be astonishing. Like Hitler! You know?

L: Uh…

D: The bouncy castle Hitler.

B: No! Do you know what I mean? You say that’s what you are and then people are looking for somebody to just tell them what to do.

D: They needed somebody who knew all about bouncy castles.

B: I can remember when the generator would fail and we’d yell, “The bouncy castle is going down!!” Then we’d pull up the breakers and off we’d go again. We’d have kids inside and it’d be going, psshhht.

D: Pssshht.

B: Can you imagine? That was at Monkstown. Only in Ireland! “Turn off the hot dogs, we can’t have the bouncy castle on the same thing!” Okay, we’ll ask you another question: What problem are you trying to solve?

L: Well, I guess the Hammer is trying to solve a problem that exists in that neighborhood in a pretty tangible way. But our event is trying to break down the hierarchical relationship between a performer and an audience, and open up a different type dialogue. It’s funny, I didn’t know what to call the people who I invited to participate in the event… I’ve been calling them “contributors” and “participants,” and they are doing both of those things, and I’m so excited about the participation and contribution of each of those people. But I feel like, given the nature of the event, every single person that walks into the space is participating, and is contributing their ideas. That idea is really exciting to me – that that role becomes shared by everyone.