Archikulture Digest

24 Hour Embrace (after Young Sun Han)

24 Hour Embrace (after Young Sun Han)

With Brian Feldman and Edward Feldman

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Orange Ave Gym, Orlando, Fl</strong>

It’s a hot, sweaty night in the Orange Avenue Gym. At 1 a.m., the gay bars up the street are hopping, Orange Avenue traffic flows in fits and starts, and the pugilists and gym rats who normally hang out here are fast asleep. Tonight is Father’s Day, the last of the major Guilt Holidays. Inside the hushed boxing ring, Brian Feldman and his father Edward are locked in an embrace such as fighters enter in moments of exhaustion. It’s a hushed, reverential atmosphere; no speaking in the ring is permitted, nor is spitting, hitting below the belt, or head butting. Thomas Thorspecken sketches quietly in one corner of the ring, blending in even when he’s the only spectator in the room. I’m not wearing socks, and must not enter the ring. It’s a fight club rule.

“The Sign…theres always a Sign…”

In the ring, sketching and hugging proceeds. There is no sound, save the air handler. Tisse Mallon shows me how to send a tweet on Brian’s phone, and tonight my bucket list shortens by two lines – I’ve twittered and I’ve been in a boxing gym. The set up volunteers are leaving and soon I’m the only person in the space beside the Feldman tag team. Unfamiliar with gym life, I examine a forest of punching bags, try on some gloves, and hit the speed ball. It hits back, leaving a mark. I take a swipe at the punching bag. It hurts. There are weights, some as heavy as a small Harley. I think back to the advice my motorcycle instructor gave me years ago: “Never buy a bike you can’t pick up.” These weights are out of my class.

“Edward and Brain Feldman”

After an hour of air conditioner hum and no visitors, a gym instructor lets himself in with a key. He’s a bit rough looking and has scattered gold teeth, but we soon fall to discussing art and theater and prize fighting and the subtext of all Feldman events – “What is he trying to prove?” I admit it’s open to interpretation – appreciation of his father while he is here to be appreciated, a metaphor of the resolution of the child parent struggle, raising awareness for…fatherhood? He shows me how to do a reverse leg scrunch, a skill I’ll never need. We discuss an upcoming tournament I might visit. He leaves, the train goes by, and I lock the door again. In the unlikely event someone knocks, I’d like to look them over before letting them in. Just being cautious.

“Theres always one guy who deosnt get it.”

At three thirty I’m relieved by the next volunteer. I check back in twice more, once at noon and once around 7 pm. Crowds are light, but the video press showed up in force. Edward and Brian look tired, but I think they’ll make it. And isn’t that what life is about? Making it, or at least convincing yourself you can. The Feldmans have made it this far, which is more than some can say.

For more information on Brian Feldman Projects, please visit http://BrianFeldman.com


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