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Bozidar Brazda, Cafécore

HaswellEdiger & Co. Gallery
465 West 23rd Street, 212-206-8955
June 29 - August 4, 2006
Reception: Thursday, June 29, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

I was born alongside an album. It was my first encounter with art. The record is my father’s. A garage-psych-folk-rock gem that he and his brother recorded in 1973 at the RCA Studios in *. Equal parts melancholy and optimism, nature-loving and religious, Eastern and Western, it is resplendent with contradictions and built out of the type of circumstance that can make art exciting and unique.

Back up a few years and my whole family is still in Eastern Europe. The year is 1968, it’s September and Soviet tanks are rolling on *. Taking advantage of a temporary lax in travel restrictions brought on by the invasion, my parents have quickly resolved to escape and do so by quietly slipping across the border to neighboring on a three day visa. My father’s father who has just been promoted to editor-in-chief of the country’s Catholic weekly and sent to Rome, re-routes his trip and waits in * for my mother, father, sister, grandmother and father’s brother to join him. Two months later they leave Europe. They will not return for over twenty years.

Meanwhile back in Hollyweird a group of friends is about to be catapulted to superstardom. They’re The Monkees, and by 1968 they have recorded (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone and played it on their popular TV show. In a fine example of agit-prop-lite, the skit has them performing in a coffeehouse while a pair of Soviet spies disguised as beatniks in the audience describe the scene as `decadent.’ Years later the anti-pop purists Minor Threat (perhaps a binary opposite of The Monkees) will record their own cover of the song. It is rough, barely in time and yet somehow not so far in feeling from that of the earlier versions. In fact, when played in succession the evolution (or deconstruction?) of the song suggests a familial relationship between conformity and rebellion that is perhaps inherent to all artistic process.

Fast-forward forty years, its 2006 and you’re in a café in *. No one cares about Uptown or Downtown anymore. Sure, some people still dabble in pseudo politics. The old prime real estate. However, nowadays it’s more about the artist’s head. Enter by the mouth. The view is both Easterly and Westerly. The decor neither nostalgic nor new. A waiter comes by and says something about `steppingstoneism.’ You shrug and then pay and leave with the idea that understanding your formative years is more of an act of faith than it is a science.
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