Magazine article Artforum International

Philip-Lorca diCorcia: Five Nights of a Dreamer

Magazine article Artforum International

Philip-Lorca diCorcia: Five Nights of a Dreamer

Article excerpt

The man's name is Igor. I don't know if this picture is posed, I don't know if the photographer even knows Igor; by chance, I do. An architect from Trieste, he acted in movies a friend of mine made in the early '70s. He's carrying the goldfish to drop in an aquarium I've never noticed in his house. Maybe it's for the restaurant he used to own on Greenwich Street: at home, Igor's a cat person. Large, furry, slow-moving cats who drop unexpectedly from high bookcases. My director friend once told me, "I really don't know why I like Igor. But he fascinates me. Maybe it's the way he looks, his voice, I can't

help it."

A few years ago, Evan Lurie and I were planning an opera about Wittgenstein. Igor told me he had some documents relating to Wittgenstein's death in Trieste. I told him I was certain Wittgenstein had died in England. "No, no, that's what everybody believes, but my friend's written a whole play about Wittgenstein's last days in Trieste." "Igor, I've been researching this opera for two years, I know." "Yes, but what you know is a myth." His insistence wore away my certainty, and on the hottest day of the year Evan and I made our way to Igor's office in the extreme west 20s. "Gary," Igor said when we arrived, "Sit down for a moment: I have some bad news. But maybe it's also good news. It seems the play isn't about Wittgenstein. It's about Winckelmann." At this point I thought: "See? He's crazy!" "How could you get them confused? Wittgenstein? Winckelmann?" "But maybe you should consider," Igor said, in complete earnest, "writing an opera about Winckelmann instead."

Perhaps the man in the photograph isn't Igor but someone who looks like Igor--if that's possible. An actor playing Igor who believes he is Igor, or someone who knows nothing of Igor and who's headed uptown instead of downtown a little after rush hour, on his way to some bedroom community where keeping fish and watching television fill the hours and times. Miles from him, a couple in another picture, in their classic Lower East Side apartment (though the unbarred door and other details suggest maybe a less embattled enclave of sexy poverty, some place like Pittsburgh): she's Hispanic, he's white. He's pulling his pants on. She's got the dog in her lap. I have no idea what they're talking about, but I now know that it's possible for two people in an interracial relationship never to discuss race, even when the racial difference permeates everything, determines practically all the decisions the "raced" person makes, defines all the unarticulated boundaries that are drawn and redrawn between the two people, and decides, sometimes, when the relationship will end. …

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