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truth into lies


“the compulsive and repeated effort to invent and re-invent oneself is fundamentally a form of ‘lying’ – or fictionalization – and that ‘truth’ is made up of a succession of lies.

D. Joselit, Mark Morrisroe’s Photographic Masquerade, 1995

Hair can’t lie. Agassi made it up again and again. Now he is bald.


Oh and let me just add that the photo comes from the book Open, by Andre Agassi, published by Knopf in 2009. It’s a good one. I wish all memoir writers were as humble, but that is another topic. Biggest takeaway for me (other than the fact that he is still kind of down on Brooke Shields) is that the joy of winning is not as intense, nor does it last as long, as the pain of losing. A shame, that.

And if it is lying, it is done for survival, a little evolutionary white lie. There is a sub-plot in Agassi’s autobiography about how he wore a toupee in many of his televised matches and was terrified of being exposed. So the hair/identity/survival plot thickens. (no pun intended.)
Autobiography and memoir are fertile ground for the spinning of these identity-shaping true lies.

I’d say that the fictionalization is merely a type of performance. And that the – albeit temporary – identity is a way for the performer to be accepted and included in the group. “Hey, I”m cool too.” The mullet is a way in. So, maybe after his tennis match, Agassi had a hot date at a roller rink? See what I’m saying? So, it’s not lying. It’s survival.

Mark Morrisroe was in art school with Nan Goldin. (see way down below) I saw a show of his dark pix last year. (at Artists Space in NYC) I like the idea of identity reinvention as a compulsive act. Of course, scratching on a polaroid is not the same as transposing truth into lies. And that is not Mark Morrisroe or a photo by Mark Morrisroe (he’s gone.) It’s Andre Agassi. The Mullet. Identity. You know?

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