Corduroy Roads

Last night I went out to OZ, which is this huge artistic event space out by the Tune airport. It used to be a cigar factory. It’s pretty ordinary looking from the outside, but it’s extraordinary inside. Wow.

I was there to see William Tyler’s “Corduroy Roads.” It was fantastic. Ha ha ha. You can tell I’m just writing this for my own blog. Saw this. It was amazing.

But so the deal is that Duke University has opened its library’s special collections to artists and commissions works based on the things in it. Which, damn, man. I wish there was some way to make happen here.

So, Duke has these two old books of Civil War images. And William Tyler is a guitarist who’s worked with Lambchop and Will Oldham who is a Southerner. And the piece was… well, there were two movie screens that showed Duke’s photos and moving images made from Duke’s photos. Tyler moved around the stage playing music and ruminating on what it means to be a white Southern man who feels some great desire to make sense of the Civil War but who isn’t one of the boys Faulkner describes as dreaming it’s… I can’t remember… the second day at Appomattox or whatever.

It was really interesting to hear him talk about how even Shelby Foote seemed to not quite get at what Tyler needed someone to try to get at. He had a great quote from Robert Penn Warren’s “The Legacy of the Civil  War, 1961.” But mostly he played music, incredible music, while these pictures moved in the background.

I guess because when scholarship can’t scratch your itch, you turn to art to try to get at it.

The part I found most amazing and moving and discombobulating was that, since so many of the images were old photographs, there were a lot of “ghosts,” people or animals who had moved during the exposure time. And so there was a whole portion of the show devoted to looking at those “ghosts” in the photos. It had this effect of making you feel like you were looking at pictures of dead people.

Which, of course, you are.

It was so amazing and the people at OZ were really lovely.

But, for all my talk of what a small town Nashville is, I only recognized one person there. Which is nice and humbling. Here are all these people with interests similar to mine who do things I might be interested in and I don’t know any of them. Not quite so small-townish after all.

Anyway, I think they said it’s touring, so, if you get a chance to see it, I highly, highly recommend it. I’m glad the Butcher insisted I go.