Just like on Facebook: It’s Complicated

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Such is the theme of a group show at Royal/T. In Bed Together is what it’s called. I think it’s metaphorical. Or, in the case of a signature piece in the show that also happens to be a painting that was presented upon my marriage, it may be partly literal. Some readers may have also been revelers at the vernissage thrown by Me, Ronni, and her twin sister, Marina, earlier this summer. Here is what I promised in the invitation:

To commemorate our nuptial adventure, Ronni’s sister Marina has made a painting. That’s right: paint, canvas and stretchers — the old fashioned way of capturing epics afield for the audience at home. It is a huge canvas, one befitting the vistas of the Great Rift Valley. I do not what the canvas contains. No one does. It is a secret! But it is a secret that will soon be revealed — at the artist’s studio. Please join us for the unveiling. There will be red cloth and a gilded rope and singing horns. (Really; my brother is a brass master.) It will be just like when Manet unveiled Olympia. Except there are no nudes. Or maybe there are! Who knows? Not me!

That Saturday everyone was surprised when we pulled back the curtain on our very own personalized homage to Olympia! Everyone thought that my perspicacious goofing in the invitation meant I was in on the deal. I wasn’t. Precisely because of my goofing, I was most shocked of all when I saw this:

As promised, the esteemed members of the Salon were scandalized.

And so now all seven feet of this painting now hangs on our wall. Or it did until yesterday, when it was borrowed to be featured in the show at Royal/T. It was requested for its depiction of a complicated relationship — our complicated relationship: husband, wife, and twin, appearing together in symbolic  composition. What it means exactly I’m not sure. I might be afraid to ask. But it was chosen as the poster image, which was flattering to all. Such a thing happened once before, in Japan, when a painting Marina had made of Ronni wearing a fake fur panda hat was chosen as the poster for a big museum show that was opening while we were all three in Japan, resulting in the odd experience of us wandering the streets of Tokyo and looking up to see an anime version of panda-headed ronni smiling back down at us. Like so, but much bigger:

That was the handbill we took home. If we could just combine these to have Ronni nude in a panda hat — now that would be one vigorous artistic hybrid..


Joshuah Bearman has written about CIA missions, jewel thieves, deranged private investigators, aspiring Fabios, bitter rivalry among dueling Santa Clauses, and the metaphysical implications of being the world's greatest Pac Man player. His article for Wired became the movie Argo. More from this author →