I was a teenager when I started going out in the city & every chance I got, I'd suggest we wander by The Standard on Sunset Blvd to catch a glimpse of The Box Girl on display for the night.
It was such a concept to me - this intimate view of someone's private life sprawled out on a bed at eye level, as if I accidentally gained a shady voyeur’s secret perspective of the scene currently taking place in the coveted rooms upstairs in some offhanded manner; like becoming the protagonist stepping into the dark hallway scene of Garden State. Even if the setup was contrived to start, inevitably with the hours that passed the girl’s vitality for showing off, being entertaining or seeking attention would wear off. A steady art installation since 1998, it’s another successful venture based on the fact that sex sells, & bloody hell, did I want in on it. (Pun intended.)
Explaining my new job to friends & family was a bit difficult - for the most part confusion is what I battled: “There are only 2 rules,” I would try to explain, “no eating, & no breaking the 4th wall - as in, I can’t interact with anyone outside the box.” My artistic friends loved it, posing far fewer questions in the confused phase, but no matter how long the era lasted, once I beat it down, laughter followed. “Of course you are…” they would say.
The first time I got into it, the exhibition behind my “bed” was a bright pink, neon light fixture that read - “but i don’t want anyone else”. Tears welled up when I saw it - & behind those were the emotions that I sadly, still didn’t want anybody else. I snapped a photo & sent it to his Mum. No explanation needed, she simply responded, “I know how you feel. xxx” She had been telling me to shave my legs for a few months at that point; that I was still young, & pretty, & that I’d have to start dating eventually.
6 weeks later, when the installation changed, it was a giant picture of the Los Angeles skyline. Perfect, I thought, close up time with my beloved city. I climbed up in & got settled… It wasn’t for half an hour in when I went to change positions that I hit my head on the miniature helicopter hanging from the ceiling. Quite surprisingly I found myself eye-to-eye with a painful reminder of how I lost the man I had finally began opening up to.
Uncontrollably, immediate tears streamed down my face as I sat in the hurt of the reality my choices had brought me. “I’ve been meaning to try & explain my new job… Because, as you suggested, I finally shaved my legs for it,” the first message to her read. “Everything about it has been him…”
It’s quite an existential exercise actually, to be a Box Girl - like the activities when I studied Meisner. At first I had to coax myself into believing that this slightly uncomfortable & manufactured confine is a representation of the rest of my life’s hurdles. How we do one thing is indeed, how we do another, echoed in my consciousness. But before I knew it, there was no difference between being inside The Box, or out of it.
The truth is we all have actions to partake in to survive, & a limited amount of time to complete them… What am I going to do in my hours in The Box tonight? The realization became - if I only have this much time, how will I choose to spend it today? And if I only have this many days left in my years, & years in my life - how will I choose to spend those?
And life imitates art, imitates life.