Wednesday, December 19, 2007

London Calling

Choreographer Jasmin Vardimon. Photo by artist.

LONDON – The newspaper The Guardian Unlimited just asked England's top artists to reinvent the snowman and came up with the following results.

In my slide-show talks I've been explaining that one motivation for writing my book was to find the dark side of the snowman and turn him on his what David Shrigley did here. In his own words, "A few years ago I went to St. Moritz in Switzerland. I decided to build a non-conformist snowman. When the art collector who owned the hotel saw it he became very excited that I had created an artwork in the grounds of his hotel. I had to explain that it was not an artwork - it was just a snowman. It’s an easy mistake to make." Just a snowman? Mistake?!? I have problems with this quote.

Keith Tyson, artist of this frozen blockhead: "Snowmen are the first way in which children come across the idea of human vanitas and impernanence. We live under the myth that if we produce things, they’re going to last. When in fact, everything we make is like a snowman – it’s all going to melt in the sun eventually. This sculpture, on the other hand, is built to last. It’s made of glass-fibre polycarbonate painted to look like real snow." Now that's an artist statement: thought-provoking, overstated and chock-full of words I can only guess what they mean.

Meanwhile, I meet with England's, the number one gay website on the web and discussed Frosty, the holidays and my sexual orientation.

GaydarNation: I believe there’s a section in the book about gay snowmen! Tell us more…

Bob Eckstein: Well, I explored whether or not Hans Christian Andersen’s Snowman is gay, something some scholars conclude (probably due partly in the fact that Andersen wrote two novels before his fame of his first collection, Fairy Tales, which contained homoerotic scenes – but, unfortunately, not with snowmen).

Anyhoo, I’m pretty sure from my research that this is not the case as The Snowman was hot for what he thought was a woman. Hans Christian Andersen himself, I’m convinced, was bisexual if not asexual. An argument can be made that his stories were a reflection of rejection and frustration.

Actually, the snowman’s first kiss took place sixteen years earlier when Andersen wrote The Snow Queen, about a northern femme fatale made of ice - a parody of and a retort to the Swedish singer Jenny Lind, the object of his affections who wouldn’t give him the time of day.

In a nutshell, the story of The Snow Queen is about man’s lifelong quest for validation by women and the pain of unreciprocated love. All familiar ground for men. All very familiar ground for Andersen. Needless to say, we know from the recent merciless exposing of Andersen’s frank diary that he didn’t “close the deal” with anyone besides himself. He had so fabulously struck out with the ladies that it seems he simply expanded his dating pool to men to hedge his bets.

There was recently an obscure off-Broadway play of a gay theme called Snowman but there the snowman was in name only and not an actual snowman.


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