Novel Fragments

Pearls of light – everywhere, the city drawn in lines of neon and crystal light technology, beaming, winking, pulsating, the reflection of tower blocks and giant columns of concrete and glass glittering from lit up windows, floor by floor ringed with white and in the distance shimmering shards and beams made up of floating tower blocks, scratching at the air. Like a giant jewel, like a playground, a city of Godard or Le Clezio, an ersatz metropolis, this old London town.

The Barbarians at the heart of Europe.

There’s a man doing his morning ablutions, shaving in the midst of the park. He rests his soap in the alcove of a small painted wooden shrine, using the shining tin interior as a mirror in which to follow his gestures in reverse. On the dusty ground are scattered a few indistinguishable possessions, but his jacket hangs majestically from a tree branch. He is allowing it to breath in the free air and to let it loose from the shackles of its nighttime wrinkles. (Athens 2015)

Past Bayreuth, no longer flat lands, I’ve awoken and look out on villages and towns surrounded by green hills covered in thick woods. The rock is dense, reddish granite- like. A volcanic pedigree? Everything from fire and gas. The sound of a ridiculous opera. A life reduced to a chorus of tears, shouting crying singing, a veil of hair plaited in shrieks.

Approaching Weimer, Jena, Gera. I passed along this road twenty years before, almost alone and now here it is again, in all its oneness – whole but fragmented, just like the white blossoms that hang on the passing trees.

The flickering screens of adverts playing in hopeless unison on the elevator walls… as we rise up.

An old woman walking back from the street market, carrying an empty cloth bag, is showered suddenly by fragments of plate glass, falling from an apartment block above. In the narrow street the shards of glass litter the pavement. A young man stands to one side, and then attempting to reassure her, gently touches her shoulder. (Athens – October 2015)

A man had stopped on the pavement in front of a Gallery window and was looking at himself in the reflection, checking that his tie was straight.

Two old woman standing together in the side road, looking at three black bags of rubbish.

A shop with a half-dressed mannequin that claims that it is a barbers.

He/She didn’t know how to behave in the city, this city that enveloped his/her thoughts every waking minute. She/He was in love with the city. The City was some kind of God/dess for her/him, all its capital power, all its passing camaraderie and its mystique. It was a religion to her/him, so much so that she/he wanted so much to share her/his belief with someone.

They decided together that they had to make him into someone, into the most successful, most outrageous most bankable artist the City had ever known. (Bankable Collective 1994)

The grand movement of the City, the swaying carriages, of train rides, of high-heels and hips, these captivated him/her daily.

Murder, Art

The prison wall of art and its prisms of tongue twisting glass murdered her/him.

Was art about to be murdered, again? Sacrificed on the altar of greedy sensation? Is that what he had dreamed of when he set out youthfully on his artistic journey? Could one artist alone defy the tide and save it from its ignominious death, wrapped in vitrines and gilded by white cubes. That was folly, madness. But Craig still believed in art as something other than, as the space of extra ordinary hope, as a place for a certain experimental freedom and failure… and still, still art, whatever one said, had to do something. Horrified by his friends’ successes and overwhelmed by his work, he descended into despair … would the artworld finally kill him off…

Tongue-tied, unable to speak, humming in the mouth, the tongue slides into place and pulsates a syllable then two: back in the smoke the smell of phosphorous from lit matches crackles in the nostrils and James Brown shakes off his gilded capes.

My pleasure, my masochism – liking goes with time, I like all the ready-mades. And Schwitters’ cathedral of erotic misery. Crimes of aesthetic passion or Anesthetized murder…

 

The River

A black glue spread along the exposed shoreline of the Thames. Wild plane trees pushing through the concrete, a piece of foam, breaks, tyres, dissolved reality floating in pools through the filthy water. The once bustling river, ghostly silent, a deadland. And you stand alongside it and look back up river so that it appears to widen out… June 18th

It appeared the era wanted her/him, awaited her/his arrival but what the world sees as talented, is never the same as raw talent. Her/His success and her/his friend’s destiny seemed to be in the hands of others.

Last night walking back to the hotel, the road ahead, pooled with fresh downpours, I stopped, looked up and saw a sign painted in large red letters AKTION, but I do not piss on the road.

Leaving Brussels, more time waiting then on the train. And nothing peaceful about waiting in a European train station. How then I recalled Wien, so quiet, it reminded me of the time I spent 20 years ago sleeping on wooden benches, laid out on my back on dusty marble floors in Italy, or on the polished concrete of a German Bahnhof, laid out on a slab ready for death in a Naples church, half asleep, floating.

All the dull greyness and complex shadowy reflections now dissolved into the blackness of night illuminated by the spray can pencils of artificial light.

Crossing the dark Danube, a horse on a pedestal is suddenly illuminated in orange light.

Morning, the sun barely up, the ground covered in a faint gauze of silvery mist. So peaceful, a May Day, just as Von Kleist or a young Werther might have seen the day break. But I am waking in a cramped and sweaty couchette, and somehow climbing up to the top bunk the ladder collapses.

An interdependent Curator – Why she likes the way it looks in the Gallery, as much as anything. She looks straight ahead, saying: “I like that more than anything else”.

Daemon’s blood boiling, my genii, what shall I make – in the grammar of art, pure art, fundamental principles of art – underneath value – here the above and below are one – it is the inbetween to know, the in between of universal energies – the animals and spirits.

On the Ubahn in Vienna, a girl from the Philippines or is she Chinese, holds a limp bunch of lilacs. Collecting the hot May days, dreaming. Everyone seems exhausted. Opposite her sits a man, dog tired, maybe Turkish. The chairs are of wood, polished plywood, everything is brown, brown floor, yellow brown wall, cream brown ceiling and the wooden chairs are coated in a thick brownish varnish, perhaps this is Austrian. (2006)

‘It’s not like I just dipped my toes into that world. I was an artist. It isn’t as if I was just having a go at it… putting my toes into that world. Taking a little dip. No I felt I was at the very centre of it. That I was plunged into it, entirely immersed, but you know now? Now that I look back I’m not sure if I wanted that – to be at the heart of it like that. It was if I had never had a choice. I was just thrust right into it, covered in its treacly oil, it’s perverse energy.

So I never had to struggle because I was part of it, part of the crowd. But god forbid I was never wholly part of that, I felt we were outside of that. Making it, being part of some…some measure of success, that we were doing something outside of all that … something different.

Look you’re part of a crowd, you’re all swimming together but deep inside, inside yourself, you know you’re alone and you have to find your way along the river. Upstream, downstream, against the current, with or without it? Maybe they all went with it and I… I… I thought I was swimming against that tide, but positively, making something new and unique. But maybe I was just floating along buoyed up by the wake that they all left behind…

Oh god, I wanted to be different, to stand out and be identified as myself, for the work and the ideas I generated but because I could never be sure whether it was me who had jumped into the centre of that pool or if in fact I’d just been thrown in there by chance I could never be certain of anything. I was never quite sure what people were looking at, or wanting from me. My work, or something of me, the crazy artist who just happened to be a part of all this other stuff – their success and fame, my famous friends, all the other respected artists I might show with, those other names, those A-listers. Craig Braithwaite and…. Braithwaite and…. And…. And.

Oh yes, it did flatter me at first or maybe it was more that it propelled me on. Like I’d be asked to do this and then this project and that. What about Craig, asking him? Then it started that feeling, gnawing away. Things started to dry up. Become more problematic, more difficult. It was no longer just a game, like we could just enjoy it all and play. It was no longer a game for them anyway. It never was. Everyone was getting on, making a name for themselves, carving out their own space. And you know I could keep up, really I could but did I want to, did I need to? I mean for me it was always about the art, the work but… you start thinking about these things. You know, doubts creep in, it’s not the art now but whether you’re a successful artist, but you need to make great art to be a artist but what is that, is it because you’re successful or because… you see it becomes circular. You never seem to know which end of the tail you’re coming at it from. And the energy begins to dissipate. I then had the time to think, when everyone else, all that crowd. All of them were so busy …

That feeling crept up on me as everyone else around me, all my friends, those artists, started to take off and leave me behind.

I could get locked up there, left behind there in the studio space, immersed in something for weeks on end, then I’d start thinking… (that feeling of being left behind or not part of it or being part of it but not feeling part of it) Then I’d think, was it really me who dipped in or was it just that I had been dipped in it? And… and… and…And

I felt then: “Can we talk?” Talk of it? And then again, I was simply lost and distraught.’

Signs wink, sputtering…

In the corner of the room; in the dingy bar, strip lit toilet signs wink and sputter it – there’s nothing for it – but to have another and karaoke it.

We’ll  make tropic rain forests in the city streets/Pave thoroughfares with polished steel/create green pleasant fields, hung from balconies/Anything for anyone with enough readiness/To fill our packets with flush funds.

It’s true, it’s nothing new/We’ll do anything for you, anything/For anyone at all, with the readys/bank steady stuff  with cash and bytecoin.

We’ll create paradises from multistory carparks/swoosh  plazas with bouncing brooks/Make you laugh and cry as you drop, shopping…

Anything for anyone, anything at all/For those with the ready all-consuming smile/To transfer the necessary winks

We’ll do anything for you, anything/For anyone at all, with the readys/To stuff the bank with cash and bytecoin.

The CITY, it is fine/It’s mine, it’s Mine/All mine, mine the city/

The city’s fine, its mine, divine/Divine the future’s mine

All mine/The City’s mine

Yes, my looks are furtive but they are bold too/Because I see in your display and your indifferent glances/Another way – becoming – being fleetingly.

The city of London, dripping with a certain nonchalant theatricality – history and modernity juxtaposed to make the brand – a potent mixture of hypertrophied tradition and the modernity of globalized capital.

He was our shamen and our seer. And now he is gone for ever. The shag-hair’d Wizard of Salter street.

‘Limonade es war alles so grenzenlos.’ Lemonade, everything was so infinite, so boundless (Kafka). Here again in the Lemonade Summer, that noise of time (Mandelstam)…

I feel them more than I see them.

I hear them more than I picture them

I taste them more than I consume,

and this performance is not for sale.

‘I loath it all, all the stuff that goes with it, being an artist. I just want to make the work but then I’m not even sure why now. Maybe it’s because I can’t see any other way other for me to live. If I stop this what do I have? I see that. That’s all I see. And everyone I know expects me to be an artist. I mean I am an artist but am I, if what I make is invisible, its delusion. People they say they love it, what I make and do, but all I see is a false wall, from behind which a mocking laughter echoes. “It’s nothing, nothing what you do, it’s nothing”. Because you see, I know they don’t get it. And then I look at the others at A and D and T. They just keep going and everyone seems to get it even if there’s nothing much to get. They keep going whether anyone gets it or not. Like they’re up here and I’m down here. When did that happen, why? I never wanted that, all that. I just wanted to make my artwork. Good art. Fucking good art. And if that meant being an artist then, so … I was the artist.

Oh god…’

 

 

Foundations (City, town or Country?)

It is because the world shakes on its foundations that one is so used to living in perpetual motion… (attributed to Stefan Zweig)

 

And Wars, Hunger and Pestilence shall forced come

but I will lay my troubled lips upon the ground,

and sinking in bear headed, will fall into the nothingness of ursus minor.

There where the glistening fur of the shy fox/ mingles with the pelt of rain pocked skin.

Bag o Nails/Bag o Bones/See them Bags/VAGABOND

To think of art posthumously…

…the beautiful is none other than the promise of happiness. Baudelaire

“I woke up one day and understood I was an artist. When did that happen? I’m not entirely clear now, but there was a moment when I just thought it. To make things that exist in the world, that are… just are. To be an artist and do that. But what does that mean? What was it that made me so sure, so adamant? Maybe it was because I couldn’t help seeing things that others only passed by, ignored – things that they couldn’t see. It wasn’t so much that I was aware of it. I mean it just was. I saw the world like that.

At first you think everyone sees and feels like that and I think they do, that they really do. It’s unconscious, lost or so submerged they put it out of their heads. They literally put it by, trying to forget what their imagination gives them. Sure they daydream, but they can’t see it and express it at the same time. It’s parallel. But for me… I’m haunted by the imagination or this vision. I see. I see something different, something absurd or other and I have a compulsion to express it. To find a way of communicating that, of making that manifest outside of myself, as art. To create an idea-thought, a thing that says something that couldn’t just be said in words.

I see correspondences and associations that other people only dream of… it’s a vague sense of something but for me, they’re real, concrete, like another sensibility or being – being within creation. In the midst of it and seeing an idea realized – Another thing in the world. Sometimes it’s fascinating, extraordinary, but at others, no, no… It’s dark. You see the horror, the strange twisted sense of things, the futility of it all; the human inability, the frailty, the utter ridiculousness of my existence. You’ve seen it, confront it, are deep into it… The ridiculous human condition. The fantasy and the ecstasy of it.

At first it was a gift. I was different and it provided a playground for the self. Because when you’re a young artist, like that, everything seems possible. You feel you can create anything, express everything, be totally engrossed, immersed in your art making, your vision, your ideas. It makes you feel entirely alive, part of the world, and so very very alive. But it’s a paradox. In fact you’re not part of the world, no, you’re apart from it. You see, you see but you’re a part from it, and yet you feel, really feel something. But I don’t feel like this anymore. It’s all changed. It’s not clear to me now why I make art, whether I feel it or whether I see it. It feels now that everything I do and have done, has been something else, that it was a delusion that I saw something there. In fact it was something else…”

A deep content with the highest of meanings is always lurking out there submerged in the dark boiling sea of emotion and the collectivity of human knowledge. That’s Youngian?

 

 Young Art, it’s Killing.

‘We prefer to work with younger artists now because it’s easier actually. Some of the older ones,…” She paused as if unwilling to admit it, “well, they’re really quite difficult, you know? Artists are artists, are artists, there’s a lot of ego washing around.” (paraphrase Evening Standard Feature,  Wednesday 12 Februray 2014)

Everything’s just been a rehearsal up to this point and maybe even this will be just an interval in that long dress rehearsal for life and meaning but it’s got some finality. I mean it’s an interval of no return, a final act, isn’t it… (Craig’s harried thinking)

You cannot make death your own act – every death is a suicide.

“You know he said … he felt he was like Dorian or at least… he thought he was some times.”

“I’m not a complete fraud, am I? I’ve made some work haven’t I? Something that’ll be remembered?”

Craig seemed to shake his head feebly and then gestured with the fingers of his left hand. The hand that was resting limply outside the duvet. It was just a slight movement of his long fingers, to tell Dorian to leave him now. He had done what he needed to do.

 

Face to the Future

The Images come
And they come again. Those scenes, the victuals of our future…

It appeared the era wanted her/him, awaited her/his arrival but what the world sees as talented, is never the same as raw talent. Her/His success and her/his friend’s destiny seemed to be in the hands of others.

As a performance artist she/he remained untranslatable…  they’re pranksters only… ‘Nincompoop, bamboozler, chimera, hotch potch philistine. No need to be always profound… nah, just tell them how it is, from the street, yeh: Berlusconi’s bum, all funky and funny and yes, a little obscene.’

“She does that stuff on a twenty minute exposure.’ Experiments in modern living – ya know– 24 hour art/party/doing it/fuck/fuck/fuck. Audio artporn… but I told him to be honest your fucking lyrics are a load’a bollocks.”

‘Well it might just be the possibilities latent within the translation.’

“That’s funny, I never thought of that.”

“Never, nyat, nima, non, jamais, neat”

…to blow Dorian the blue out of the creamy water…

Attempting to compress the experiments of the millennia of human development, the gradual imperceptible struggle for consciousness in two minutes.This was a greediness for affect and its terrifying gripping power. And he/she knew it.

Dressed up Destiny.

“What’s with it with that costume?” She asked him.

“I’m working on something with it.”

“Puh.” Dorian dismissed him.

“No really I feel something when I put the costume on, it’s transforming. I become more bestial, more primate, more me me me”, he laughed.

“And you still looking like a cock!” she laughed outrageously…

… his dense phrasing, as if laden with electrical fluids.

“These cowboys are really very kind, considering they are from hell.”

“That’s the great thing, the best.” Dorian said loudly for affect. It could have been said about something or nothing, as long everyone knew he was there.

CRAIG FALLING part 3:

They were on the bridge looking at the Thames – hanging out of a railway carriage, filming. He had the urge to jump and then he saw it, a dead dog lying hanging below the tracks caught on the metal iron work that held up decoratively the bridge arch. Caught like this, in the bridge’s rusting grip, its body distended and swollen as though it had been floating in the river for weeks. Its stomach swollen, the skin so stretched and without hair that it looked more like a bloated gourd but for its wide eyed face and its teeth. He was transfixed by its grimacing stare, and quite forgot where he was, what he was doing then. Leaning far out of the open window.

Anna pulled hard to stop him falling over the lip of the open window and tipping out onto the rails below. Just then another train was pulling out of London, over the bridge, and across the milky brown Thames, scraping against his hair.

“Craig, Craig what do you think you were doing. I thought you were falling, a goner.”

He just laughed then, and what was so strange to her, was that it wasn’t a manic laugh or a laugh of relief. No it was something more like an echo of a private joke, profoundly funny but simultaneously deeply disturbing.

 

AnNa, thou who art from the front, as from the back, I gurgle an note full throatedly, Anna Blossom, I will, I will, I will…

 

 

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