Miguel Gutierrez: Ishmael Houston-Jones Changed My Life!
April 27, 2017
Miguel Gutierrez wrote the following letter for Gala honoree Ishmael Houston-Jones on the occasion of Danspace’s 2017 Gala: Rebel Angels, which honored Douglas Crimp, Ishmael Houston-Jones, and Lucy Sexton on April 25th.
Hi Ish hello everyone at the Gala. I’m writing to you from Stockholm. I really wish I could be there with you even though I kind of have an allergy to galas. But I love Ish. And I love Danspace Project.
Ish I was going to make a short movie where I went around and got everyone I could find here in Stockholm to say “ISHMAEL HOUSTON JONES CHANGED MY LIFE!” It was going to be so good. I even started to make it I swear. But then I got sidetracked by rehearsals and all of the white people here. There are so many of them they are literally everywhere you look. I hate it when I have a good idea that doesn’t get made. But as with most conceptual art, the film you imagine in your mind is probably the same or better than the one I would have made anyway. Look, if iMovie didn’t stress me out so much and if it wasn’t so goddamm cold here I would have made it.
But the fact remains that you did change my life and I think I can say with a fair amount of authority that you have changed the lives of many people. I got my first real job in New York because of you! That is so weird to think about. I love you. Even though you are socially awkward I always feel comfortable when you are around. I love laughing about things with you. I trust you. I love hearing your stories. When we worked on the John Bernd piece last year I felt so lucky to witness how you would so often make the non-linear, out of the box choice in rehearsal. One that I could never have imagined. You have brought into existence time and again pieces, ideas, dancing that none of us could have imagined. I think that many of us wouldn’t be able to make sense of ourselves without you and what you have given us.
I was so proud of myself for thinking that I was the one who forced you to learn choreography in my pieces even though you always say that you can’t learn choreography but then when we worked on the John Bernd piece I saw video of you dancing choreography in the 80’s so I want to make sure that it is PUBLICLY STATED that your claim of being solely or even primarily an improvisational artist is BULLSHIT and we have multi-decades proof of it on video now. People at the Gala, hear my words: ISHMAEL HOUSTON-JONES CAN LEARN AND REMEMBER DANCE MOVES!
Ish – Thank you for being alive and thank you for being weird and thank you for being my artistic ABUELO.
Sending you and Danspace Project all my love, which is a lot of love by the way.