Timothée Bârrus: The Road to Hell: VisionsRupture

Some of you guys have asked me, what really goes on inside my brain. YOU go on inside my brain. It’s about YOU. My brain is right behind my eyeballs. Thank you for your participation in constructing this. All you sex workers: Luke, Terry, Niul, Quinn, Sam, Ruben, Blake, Alejandro, Muhib, Miguel, Aron, Farid, Ashar, Ogwambi, Hakeem. You keep telling me this is your life. You keep telling me these images are symbolic. Show me. Do not tell me or preach to me. I’m not stupid. Do not talk down to me, and do not patronize me, and I won’t patronize you. I hear you. I see you. This is art, not church; this speaks to me about how we keep repeating the patterns of our stories and our lives. Just because you face a life of enormous struggle, doesn’t mean that your images are not in some twisted way eternal. They just might be. Poetry. You never know. Time moves. It cannot be disputed. Physics tells us there is only one thing time cannot do. It will not run backward. I love all of you madly. The road to hell. Blood is on the dance floor. 
Cinematheque Films: The Studio Arts Education, and Show Me Your Life students (Real Stories Gallery): Students are allowed access to fair use art materials and mixed media in the teaching of iconic manipulation in photographic, video and film production. Representations and facsimiles posted here are presented as teaching tools and instruments employed to instruct students in the techniques and application of mixed media art and collage. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act allows art-teaching entities the fair use of such materials in classroom and teaching-research applications.

Tim Barrus/ The Road to Hell/ Mr Walt Whitman


The Road to Hell will be a sometimes series of video shorts featuring the photography of the beautiful but specifically jaded. I am interested in the ruined. The wrecked. I do not care how they got there. I only want to see them while they are there. Photographic voyeurism is exploitive. Go ahead. Ask my friends. Then ask them why they are here.

Timothée Bârrus/ Jiveboys


Forty percent of adults in US prisons are African-American males. Yet only twelve percent of the general population is African-American. Ninety percent of the incarcerated males in US prisons are there for drug-related nonviolent crime. 
What does this mean. 
It means that if you are black and under the age of eighteen, your chances of going to prison for a drug-related offense are 400 times greater than if you are white. 
Question: What is the percentage of males infected with HIV. 
Question: Infected in or out of prison. 
No one really knows the answer to this because not everyone is tested and many who are eventually tested aren’t tested until they become critically ill. 
What does this mean. 
It means that if you are an African-American male who is in the system, your chances of being infected outside of prison are one thing, but your chances of being infected in prison are substantially higher. 
I receive quite a bit of mail that says I am wasting my time dealing with young people and my involvement is a sickness. 
This is crazy. 
What’s sick is a culture that has washed its hands of young people who could one day be giving back. 
How do we give back. 
It begins with the willingness and encouragement to think creatively. The ability to think creatively is colorblind.

Timothée Bârrus/ Trahisons dans la Salle


Cinémathèque: trahisons dans la salle
J’aide à prendre des décisions créatives. Je fournis les outils et parfois les images. Je suis seulement un guide. Je suis l’ombre dans le fond. Mais l’histoire appartient à la personne qui a fait adapter tout. Je pourrais vous aider à photographier l’histoire. Mais ce n’est pas ma vie. La vie appartient à la personne qui la vivent.
At one level of the exposure, you are being you. At another level of the transparency where light can only bounce, you are watching you. With eyes as dark as space and all the burning of the suns. Light just curves depending on the gravitas. You with those strong arms telling me to come home. Against my breast, the stories of a million lives. — Timothée Bârrus
Poésie par Logan
Je suis accro à la violence. Je suis accro à l’Internet.
Je suis accro à l’obscurité. Je suis accro à la folie.
Je suis accro à la drogue. Les trahisons et les crimes contre l’auto.
J’ai aimé un garçon qui m’a trahi. Je suis accro à l’idée de me tuer.
Je suis accro au sang et à la beauté. Je suis accro à l’agonie. Les monstres vivent dans mon cerveau.
Je vais les gratter. Je suis accro à ce poème. Je suis accro à la danse doucement à travers la musique
Je suis accro à mes rêves.

Timothée Bârrus/ Painting Waves

I was able to paint a little bit on the underside of the wave today. Finding the time to paint is a real bitch. So many dogs and people underfoot. I can get to feeling really squeezed. But I have to paint. It doesn’t look much like a wave yet. The tail of the waves in the curve is too long. I will cut it way back. I love working in Gesso. There is a ton to do, and then to bring in the red. The red will be a trip. The canvas is four feet by two feet. — t

Tim Barrus/ Clip from HIV documentary 'We Were Here'

Tim Barrus/ Time Zones

Tim Barrus/ Why Are We Here

Timothée Bârrus/ What is Authenticity ("don't let the neighbors know..." Nan Goldin)


What is Authenticity 
I know I am supposed to have it. But I don’t know what it is I am supposed to have. What is authenticity. 
As a writer, it was a requirement. Publishing is a stupid business. Too stupid to be too terrifically evil. In order to be evil, you need to know things. 
Any real exploration of the nature of identity is duly censored. The only exploration going on is the one whose focus is entirely greed. 
In painting, no one gives a fuck. It’s not about who you are. Or what you paint. It’s about who you are and who you aren’t. Successful painters come from a certain class. Even as they take up two themes: 1.) There is no such thing as class, only humanism or advertising. 2.) The accouterment of class. 
In photography, we’re back to a relationship with narrative versus class. Most of the photographers I know are thieves, junkies, drag queens, transvestites, juvenile delinquents, AIDS activists, leathermen, porn stars, failed writers, lesbians running from one thing or another, dope growers, mushroom growers, skateboard fanatics, sex workers, and sex workers. They’re authentic enough. I’m burned out on being known as a photographer who works with boys with HIV. Yet I continue to be involved with their art; writing this is, of course, for them. 
I never get technical with them over something as stupid as a camera. That is not my job. My job is to keep asking them the question: why are you here. Anyone could do it. I know a few people who have robbed banks who are photographers. The photographers I know are more creatures than members of the real world. Creatures of the night. Creatures of the street.  If there’s a generality, it’s abuse. Every last one of them has been abused. Capturing abuse as is done here remains raw, and causes good, red-blooded Americans to squirm. This is good because Americans need to squirm. 
Why are you here. You, the reader. You, the audience. Like the photographer, you are here to look into us. Ad would say: we love you and we detest you. Photography is the tongue of “what has been”: a characteristic that is a fundamental conflict fissured both by an imagination of what we should look like and by an imagination of how we should behave. If you are a Photography 101 College Student from the NY School of Visual Arts and you think a photograph is just a photograph, you are sadly mistaken. Grow up. This is where photography will eat you alive or offer you a life of sleeping on couches. It is this or wedding photographs for most of you. Why aren’t you asking your teachers the question: why aren’t you out there in the world taking photographs.
Because we’re teaching.
They’re not doing. They’re teaching you to do. Which is ironic because most of you left the house this morning without a camera.
None of you will make it. Not in photography.
Why would we take our cameras to class.
Because you might see something to photograph.
This is the essence of photography: because you might see something.
Subcultural shifts, so that a performance history is also a history of performance. A moment of clarity and emotional connection. Whitman similarly erases distance to effect identification with his subjects. Photography is a fragment of a larger whole that is a matter not only of other versions, but of the entire aura of the oral world–such a world’s immediacy, organicism, and authenticity. Whatever it is.
It’s like being in bed with a trick. Why are you here. But for that one brief shining moment. I assume he came. I’ve already been paid because I get it in advance.
Not after. Not after has something to do with not the sequence of time (time comes in waves, tell me about it) but the narrative of time. How does time have a narrative.
Define time. Define narrative. As a photographer, you are either putting something of yourself if not yourself into the photograph. Or you are creating a distance between you and almost everything.
Define culture.
I can do that in one word. It comes from the vernacular of contemporary disease. It is the cultural disease of our times. Not alienation.
But loneliness.

Tim Barrus/ Living in the Dream Time


Living in the dream time
Swim into the center of the dark, dark sea
Defy the nighttime
Push in close, let yourself get free, get free
Don’t you waste it
Blaze your bright blaze in the blue, blue air
Can you face you?
Press-gang yourself, it’s a shuck, it’s a fake scare
Dive into the un
Dive into the un
And we dive into the un
Dive into the un
And we dive into the un
I’m gonna muck around
Pennsylvania Station with a blind chorine
Gonna bust the plow
Stealing seamy books, swilling nepenthe
And we dive into the un
Dive into the un
And we dive into the un
Dive into the un
And we dive into the un, uh
Living in the dream time
Swim into the center of the dark, dark sea
Defy the nighttime
Push in close, let yourself get free, get free
And we dive into the un
Dive into the un
And we dive into the un
Dive into the un
And we dive into the un
Dive into the un
And we dive into the un
Then we dive, and we dive
And we dive, dive, dive
for Luyanda (he is feeling the heaviness of it)
Tim Barrus
Jimmy and I never did hold two cents for the ocean on a good day. We had seen too much of it.
Hurricane Mitch blew the doors and roof clean off my house. Before Mitch, Hurricane Georges ripped shit and death through the Florida Keys, and we had only just survived that one. Then, Mitch hit. Fuck me.
Is there still time to arrange the slowly going of our lives. Gloves like death and recognizing wind. The sea is blind of memories. Jimmy stood with me at the end of the White Street pier. Key West was empty as a shot glass.
We did not think of ourselves as being sick. We had survived desire, too. Languishes her spit in an arrogant rage. Gay boys and sailors. Mainly sailors. I never met a sailor who didn’t like my cats. Jimmy and I had sailed the HMS Fantome. A Windjammer. Mitch took her down and everyone we knew with her. All we could do was stand at the edge of the pier and you found yourself reaching out for them to pull them in like bluefin tuna.
Boys and sailors to their inland hills. Drives the keel as gorges go. Waiting for the winter lions. We had been abandoned. By boys. By sailors. By hurricanes.
You’re standing in the eye of a pandemic. You fool. You thought it would go around you. It didn’t. It arrived like a lion’s tongue had licked distances and the red river that was your asshole clean as sunset rouge.
Desire is as common as salt.
Wounds are rubbish.
Even on all the medications, the sea around you is turbulent. You can go down. You will go down. All the boys and sailors have left you here. No news of victory or defeat. The really big storms die north of Scotland.
I heard Jimmy was still hanging on. Still down there. Had found himself a real job on dry land. I could not envision him in Miami on dry land but there it was. All the real jobs come and all the real jobs go. Jim lost his. And the health insurance that came with it. All the real meds come and all the real meds go. Since he could no longer afford his meds, Jim was put on a waiting list.
I found him in bed with a bottle of Bombay gin. There are some storms you just ride out.
As the viral load increases, and the thing is eating you, you feel it as a great heaviness because that is what it is. You are carrying billions of virus. It weighs you down — this is not a poetic metaphor — it weighs you down. “There are days I cannot move,” he said.
There are days you do not get out of bed.
All you can do is negotiate the waves. Jimmy and I never did hold two cents for happy endings on a good day. No job. Social security takes months. More waiting lists. Jim was evicted. Last I heard, he was living on the street.
People, good friends, have written me off, too. I am a bluefin tuna.
Jim, call me, you asshole. If you’re reading this, call me. I have spare bedrooms. If you have to die, then fucking die in my house. Die, boy, in my bed.
I am well enough to hold both bluefin and sailors when they die.
Is there still time to arrange the slowly going of our lives. Gloves like death and recognizing wind. The sea is blind of memories. Come, James, and stand with me and we can face the mountains and the Blue Ridge winter’s storms. We’ll stare out the snowsleep’s windows black and empty as a shot glass. Drives the keel as gorges go. Waiting for the winter lions. We have been abandoned. By loneliness and all her windjamming ships. Living in the dream time. Swim into the center of the dark, dark sea. Defy the nighttime. Push in close, let yourself get free, get free.


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