Ok, the title of this blog post may be misleading, but I’ve been contemplating Frank Ocean‘s performance at the Grammys the other night, trying to place it in some context, maybe even re-contextualize it. And here’s what I’ve come up with. I think the entire thing — him, the video, keyboard, every element that made it up — should be installed in the atrium at MoMA as part performance art / part video installation for a several-week run. Every day when the museum opens, he arrives with accompanying video, performs “Forrest Gump” for the entire time the museum is open, and turns around and leaves at closing. Basically his entire Grammy performance stretched out for seven hours. The entire thing repeats itself the very next day. And the day after that. And so on, for weeks. It means whatever you want it to mean, but by him running up to the keyboard every morning, only to turn around at the end of the day and run back down away from it, we’re confronted with the inevitability of our Sisyphean existence. He knows at the beginning of the day how it’s going to end, and at the end of the day knows how it’s going to begin tomorrow. And so do we. But he must get up and do it again.
The only difference is what he decides to do with the song in between those times. Rearrange it. Change the key. Change the words. Maybe even invite the public to join him and collaborate and make it participatory. The only constant the beginning and the end, the arriving and the leaving alone, and the running. Always the running.