An awesome poet friend of mine Evan Kennedy volunteered to read numbers for the On Kawara exhibition at David Zwirner.
He wrote a statement recalling his experience:
When I started to read the years (940000s BC), I was not enjoying myself. The way the numbers sounded as words began to confuse me (“nine hundred forty thousand” ) and sounded wrong. My reading partner’s focus was assuring, and I soon settled into a rhythm attuned to the pleasure of speaking the words and imaging what things were like at these years and how much closer we were getting to the good centuries we live in, the good centuries of boys and rock and roll. When we were in such a rhythm, there was anticipation and surprise at the major shifts, such as beginning a new century, and I felt a renewal upon these discoveries.
Interruption would ensue. The chair gave me a backache, my saliva production was overactive, which I did not want the microphone picking up, and some observers seemed ready to pounce on the next slight mistake. In fact, there was a wait-for-the-reader-to-crash mentality among some of them, and unfortunately, I was unable to disappoint them by once vocalizing a number that was nowhere on the sheet. I must have been aching to travel forward, away from prehistory and toward civilization.
Reading this simple list with my partner, a nice art teacher I had been paired with, put me a step away from my mind and allowed me to observe its wanderings from and toward focus. I have never experienced this distance, and it made me feel like an automaton or somnambulist traversing centuries on a trail of drool.
Check out Evan’s chapbook Vehicular #1 here.