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  • Writer's pictureAnanya

Hot Literati @ the Threshold

When I moved to L.A. three months ago to finish out my senior year of college, I turned to my roommates and said, “I can’t wait to go out every weekend,” followed by an obligatory “we’re so back.” (Last semester had been rough on all of us). 

What I didn’t realize was that I was three months away from graduating. I’ve gone out a bit, but really my weekends have been reserved for my new favorite activity; laying curled up in the fetal position at the edge of my bed, attempting to peer out into the world through my phone, looking for answers and structure that probably do not exist. 

Call it pre-grad anxiety. 

In dealing with my grad crises, something that has given me solace is knowing that I am living in a building of a hundred other people going through some version of the same thing. That we are all confronting transition in one way or another.

Change is scary. It’s one of those things that everyone knows they have to go through but sometimes it doesn’t really hit you until you’re staring down the great and terrible uncertainty right in its face. And it shows up differently for everyone. Some people shove it down till they can’t anymore (me). Some people go to grad school (could be me). Others create the space they need to process transition and share it with the world - which is probably the healthiest thing to do and that is the story I want to tell you. This weekend, I am trading my weekly grad crisis fetal curl up sesh for something new. I am flirting with confronting change at Threshold, a warehouse art show in Commerce, CA. 

The space is lofty and filled with 20somethings strutting their Saturday best, a mix of strappy dresses and docs, esoteric graphic tees and cargos. Indie hits are floating in the background and mixing sweetly with the warm hum of college kid chatter. I am here for Miranda, a friend from last semester who dreamt this night up. I knew of her initially as the Girl Who Gets Things Done — a coveted title in the sometimes wishy-washy creative sea of our mid-size liberal arts ecosystem. We existed in each other's social spheres peripherally, until a class brought us together last fall and all of a sudden we were building sets and playing schedule tetris over text. I watched as she maneuvered lighting and cameras, her then-20-year-old fingers already showing green shoots of expertise.

Tonight, I am in Commerce, CA and Miranda is everywhere; she is hanging from the walls, swimming in inked leaflets, torn down in cinder blocks and subsequently resurrected in digital footage. I look around and smile. I immediately know I’m going to be changed for the better by this, somehow. 

The vibes tonight are different from any other art gallery I’ve been to before. I can name nearly everyone in the room. Someone is handing out cookies and natural wine. It’s technically spring break and every so often there is a cry of familiarity, an “Oh! It's so nice to see you,” as a known visitor from our other campus makes an appearance. There are no security guards posted up in the corner waiting to yell at me if I get too close to the art and I take this as an opportunity to embrace the tactile. I say my obligatory hellos and then turn to get acquainted with the threshold. 

The art emits a sort of call and response. “Have you met the threshold?” it asks in hushed tones, drawing me in. 

The story on the pages is introductory and cryptically explores beginnings, second-child syndrome and sets up the themes of the installation. I read and absorb it, running my fingers over the smooth white paper hanging from the ceiling before walking over to the next room. 

In the next room, "I HAVEN'T SPOKEN TO MYSELF SINCE I WAS 12, it continues, and weaves a narrative that speaks of personal resilience, painful confrontation and, ultimately, growth. I watch a digital Miranda superimpose her story in big block font all over her bare back. The words and medium are a little jarring and undoubtedly vulnerable, but there is a strong sense of reclamation in the story Miranda is telling boldly on her back.  

Behind me is a second TV - all of a sudden it’s me in the camera feed. I watch a version of myself trapped in the digital ether. The girl in the TV is obscured, distorted. Moving in darkness. Miranda’s big block font story continues playing over me and it’s a little uncomfortable, in a good way. I leave, and on my way out I see a spine made of cinderblocks and lace. 

The juxtaposition does not go unappreciated by me. I smile as I read the inscription. It’s a little wry and very witty. Very Miranda.

I leave to find Miranda who is off to the side, somewhere. We chat for a bit. She is nervous and shining and reserved at the same time. I haven’t told her I’m writing this yet, but this piece has been brewing in me since she first told me about the process of creating this gallery. “Officially? About three months. But it’s been about a year in the making,” she told me the first time I asked about the show. 

It’s getting late and I am a barely decent driver by day and turn into an even poorer driver at night (astigmatism). So, I congratulate Miranda again, say my goodbyes somewhat hurriedly and turn to leave. I am driving and musing now. I was right - tonight has changed me a bit. I left, but the threshold sticks. 

I think seeing Miranda’s show was a good opportunity to actually internalize the power of art. Intellectually, I have always known that art is power. That creativity is power. I talked about this with a friend after, but there is a real dichotomy between knowing vs understanding. As someone who leans cerebral, I forget, sometimes, the importance of getting up and actually interacting with the physical world instead of trying to solve my problems through my phone screen. Seeing Miranda’s art and getting the opportunity to interact with it revived me a bit. 

Most importantly, though, Miranda’s art spoke of creative agency. To have friends who make art is a beautiful thing, and watching Miranda conjure such an introspective and hauntingly comprehensive answer to the dreaded Threshold, aka the experience of in-betweenness, was a reminder of that agency. That there is real value in voicing a response. Its beauty lay in the fact that it was both an answer and a fuck-you, holding space to embrace the near-ubiquitous uncertainty of confrontation. Like I said, art is power. Creativity is power. And Miranda’s answer, her way of taking back power, had her fill up the room with friends, aunts, assorted creatives and strangers and become ubiquitous herself, even if just for a night.  

I have this feeling that the older we get, each of us will have to face our own Thresholds time and time again. That at some point, waves of uncertainty will inevitably swell and fuck up our worlds. I like structure and rules; I imagine that they will be snatched out from underneath me more times than I can imagine. It’s a little disconcerting. 

But. It’s nice to know that I’m not powerless in this relationship with the liminal. I don’t know how I’m going to confront my Threshold, but I know I don’t want to hide from it anymore. 

And when I think about my Threshold, I find that whispers of the night have stayed with me. 

Confront the threshold, it tells me. You’ll be okay. 

See more of Miranda here.


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