Writer, filmmaker and perfume aficionado Theresa Duncan has not posted at her Venice-based blog, The Wit of the Staircase, since July 10. She gave no indication of taking a break, and now an Internet discussion forum has posted an unconfirmed report that Duncan killed herself last week in New York City, where she was making a film. From the same report, her partner of many years, artist Jeremy Blake, is missing off New York's Rockaway Beach, where a man was seen going into the ocean Tuesday night. The news comes from Anya McCoy, a Florida perfumer who says she spoke with an ex-girlfriend of Blake. I can find no recent news reports tonight on Duncan in New York or her hometown of Detroit, so I'll stress again that none of this is confirmed.
* 7 am Update: Art critic Tyler Green blogs at Modern Art Notes that Duncan committed suicide last week and that the NYPD confirmed Blake is missing.
9:30 am: I'm told there is a funeral for Theresa Duncan tomorrow in the Detroit area. And Kate Coe, who knew her, talks about Duncan at Fishbowl LA.
The Wit of the Staircase marked its second anniversary on July 4. A personal favorite of mine, Duncan's blog interests ran to literary allusions, Kate Moss, perfume and possibly apocryphal moonlit debaucheries of the Los Angeles Lunar Society. In her 20s she created the video games "Chop Suey," "Smarty" and "Zero Zero." With Blake she produced The History of Glamour, an animated mockumentary about an art scene similar to Andy Warhol's Factory. I have never met Duncan, but always figured I would someday. Blake's paintings and video art have been shown all over the place, and he created the abstract hallucination scenes in Punch Drunk Love.
After the jump, Duncan compares Los Angeles and Detroit.
Having lived in both the rust belt necropolis and the Pacific pomopolis, I can attest that Los Angeles is Detroit through the looking glass, or in a phrase that went through my mind continually as I drove under endless ugly sodium lamps from freeway to freeway on first moving here, it's "Detroit with palm trees."
And yet I find both places indescribably glamorous, inchoate and mysterious, endlessly strange and iterative, as if the street behind you is being covered over with some new fantasy by scene painters as you drive on. I'd go on to parse out the differences between the towns, but as I said, I suspect they are actually the same place, two sides of a coin palmed in the alternately icy and desert-hot hand of America, a future currency whose buying power is for strange new fast-moving forms and fantasies that are as yet undreamt of in the rest of the West.