June 5  – August 30 2009

Paul Laffoley


Paul Laffoley [b. 1940] began his career as an architect (though he was 'dismissed' from The Harvard Graduate School of Design for "conceptual deviance") and apprenticed for a while with the visionary architect Frederick Kiesler. He remains an architect and architectural historian. In 1968 Laffoley moved into an 18' by 30' room in Boston, that became the headquarters of an organization he created called The Boston Visionary Cell, a group dedicated to exploring the complex inter-relatedness of nature, science, dreams, the occult and the paranormal. In 1992, a miniature metallic implant was discovered in his brain, which he believes to be extraterrestrial in origin, and which he identifies as at least a partial source for his unusual way of seeing and understanding the universe.  Laffoley would eventually develop a body of work divided into three ‘groupings’: Operating Systems, Psychotronic Devices and their related Lucid Dreams.  Laffoley has had over 200 exhibitions, including a retrospective at the Austin Museum of Art in 1999.

In this exhibition, The Cartin Collection will exhibit a single work, a self-portrait done in 1969. This self portrait will be accompanied by a descriptive wall label text written by Laffoley, and commissioned as an accompanying component of the work, fabricated by Laffoley.

Making a portrait of oneself, for whatever the reason (I have actually forgotten why I did it), is a trauma.  It is not a question of “what happened to all the time between “then” and “now” (in this case 40 years), the real question is what did time do to me?  I now hardly recognize the face staring back at me, as being me.  In fact when I showed it to current friends, they often ask, “Who is that?”  Others say “that’s you with a suit and hair.”  I went to the Woodstock Festival looking like my image in this self-portrait trying to retrieve 18 of my paintings that I believed had been “stolen.”  That is probably why I was accused of being a F.B.I. Agent trying to set up a “sting” operation at the festival about “drugs”.  I should have realized this one week before “Woodstock” when Timothy Leary came to a show I had about 2 weeks before the Festival.  His only comment was “I like your sense of humor.”  It is only now that I realized he was not talking about my paintings but about my appearance in relation the paintings I produce.  Often people refuse to believe what I do unless they see me do it or come to one of my exhibitions.  I feel, therefore, that I am constantly out of phase with the times.  But I have always tried to be in a phase with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s (1803-1882) vision of the over-soul:  that absolute reality and basis of all existences is conceived as a spiritual being in which the ideal nature is imperfectly manifested in human beings, but nevertheless, is perfectly realized as the transverberation of matter in contact with spirit.