My daughter loves snack time. In the evenings, a few hours before dinner, I’ll fix her a sippy-cup of milk and a small bowl of cheerios to munch on. Usually, when I do this, she’s busy playing, but as soon as I head to the kitchen, she stops what she’s doing to follow me. She watches anxiously while I pour the milk, screw on the sippy-cup lid, put her cheerios in the bowl. At that last step, when the last cherrio has landed in the bowl, she charges out to the living room, where she climbs up on the couch to wait for me. I sit, and when I do, she sidles over onto my lap. She has the beginnings of snack time here. Usually, she only stays put for a minute or two, long enough to have a couple of cheerios and a little milk. When she grows bored, she’ll climb down, continue her playing, and graze back for a bite or a sip now and again. I like to think that this ritual means something to her, though it’s possible she just does it out of habit. Certainly, she enjoys snuggling, but most of the time she does it on her own terms. There’s no rhythm to it. When she wants a hug or to sit in a lap, she lets you know, and if she doesn’t let you know, she’d rather you just wait patiently while she plays or chases the dog. But at snack time, she’s there in my lap like clockwork. It’s a small ritual, a small moment in my day and in hers, but it’s also something that I tend, consciously or not, to invest with a lot of extra weight. In other words, I see a lot more going on with that minute or two each evening than is there on the surface.
I like looking beyond the surface of things. I really like looking beyond the surface in art. For this second edition of Trigger, we started out with a pretty simple idea. We wanted two kinds of work, the large and the small. Big stories and poems and pieces of art that dealt with matters of overt importance. And small works that played with the minutiae of our lives. The pieces you’ll find in this edition fit those billings, and they’re divided up accordingly.
Of course, the truth is that the lines of demarcation that we’ve drawn in this issue are arbitrary. Because with good art, they have to be arbitrary. There are works in the Big section that could just as easily have been housed in the Small and vice versa. The surface of these works, the parts that allowed us to slot them into one section or the other, are far less important than the core. And at the core, the work in both sections ends up being not very different at all.
Everyone likes to compartmentalize. Everyone likes to shuffle things from one grouping to another. What we’re hoping for with this issue of Trigger is that the juxtaposition of pieces in the Big and Small sections shines a little light on how fragile those compartments really are. At root, if you dig below the surface a little, art is art is art. How we get there doesn’t really matter. All that really matters is that we are there.
I’m sitting in my office right now, writing this introduction, and I’m thinking about my daughter and why she sits in my lap in the evenings for the first minute of snack time. But when I’m in the moment, when she’s sitting there, and I’m stealing a cheerio or two, and she’s happily sipping her milk, I don’t think about it at all. Art is like that too. Outside of the moment, it’s fine to dissect and hypothesize and compartmentalize, but when we’re experiencing it, it’s better to sit back and enjoy the ride. We hope the works in this issue, big and small, take you for a ride.