On commute through East End I am thinking back to Cashel. The sensation in my stomach is the first I notice, then the view across the loch and a very orange sunshine. A steaming cup of coffee. Cold air playing with my hair. I see my bags and things, spread out on the bench and in front of it. A clear: I am here. I know I am smiling.
Delighting in the beautiful object that is the string on stick that my dad prepared. It was B.’s observation that alerted me to it. Yes: that is the care with which he has always attended to me. Now it is part of a|o just as well.
The performance takes place through my stomach: the emotional register of what is, was and might be. Above all the question: does it matter? Where’s this bloody sincerity coming from? It makes the delight heavy, tightens my shoulders and neck and leads me to explore all sorts of irresponsibility.
As if! Leaving, forgetting, not caring or even abandoning is not an option. This ‘piece’ was resolved in early May – all pieces returned and handed back. The obligation that rested at its centre exchanged once, twice, and therefore fulfilled and thus struck out.
And yet: each of the pieces turned into a gift to myself. A little journey it took with twenty-seven people to lead back to me. And now I have them all and they weigh heavy. The sixty passports I took care of one Monday in Berlin’s Jerusalem Church come to mind. As if they preempted last week’s sincerity. So my memory circles much further back than ten days ago
… it belongs to a|o too; in what form I don’t know yet.
whose heart though?
(see more on who collected it from an old church in Cork here)
Noone had come past since I walked up this path a few hours ago. And still: as soon as I placed the string across the path I became anxious that someone would come by and discover my little personal performance. Also: I had simply blocked the path with a string and things hanging off it at 30 cm height.
They bunched up quickly again.
Against the ground they were significant and visible. Taking a picture uphill and downhill made them less visible though – I perceived the string as obvious and not of this landscape; yet the photo perceives it as little and insignificant.
Two cutoffs had fallen off and one of them became a beautiful pebble. If they all became pebbles, they could be lost and not simply turn to mud.
Writing now, it is already memory: a brief moment that has already passed. Memory works at different scales and levels for this piece.
I am glad to have told a. about what I am doing: it helped me focus. It also connects a|o to the earlier o|a and its relationships.
Walking up another bend further. The air cools and I anticipate the open heathland ahead. The wind is more noticeable and I feel cool air on my sweaty head.
Where is the string. How far can I remove myself from it. Do I lose attachment. Do I stop caring.
I must ensure that none of the cutoffs flies off and down the gully. That would be careless, irresponsible. How many more steps do constitute irresponsibility.
The ridge up ahead lures. The mistle thrush does so too. I halt and take note to delay a decision: further on or back towards? I delay further.
Turning back I notice the moss and the grey stones on the path: well walked on and eroded by water. The path itself becomes more intriguing. Everywhere I look, each view is stunning and a good backdrop for a|o – does it matter where?
I now walked up further.
I see the Cobbler to northwest and behind this bend of the path there are fir and larch up in the distance. It is quieter still, very little wind. Now it’s behind me, it catches my hair and moves on north. There is little sign of decay. Some of the bracken is turning beige; the heather blossom is bristly dry; some birch leaves yellow. Up here there is no sign or indication that a|o exists 250 metres downhill; that 27 pieces of waxed paper hang in the wind on the string that k. prepared for me.
And still I know. I know and delight in the knowledge. I put them there. They hang onto that string in a balmy October sun 200 metres above Loch Lomond.
And also I know that they have been at Blackford Hill and at Schluesshof before.
What is the significance of that knowledge, of the emotional charge that it carries: to every passing other this would not be known.
she told me this over breakfast in edinburgh, she having come to scotland for a holiday, living by now for 16 years in catalonia.
i had two phone numbers, one in salford, one in west lothian. i never rang either.
i also have two cousins nearby, one, my father’s generation who left to move to salford in the late-1950s (phone no 1), the other is my age and moved, about the same time as i moved, to northern ireland.
chance encounters with stories that make us in common elsewhere.
i stumbled upon the bearded gypsum goat (see earlier post) while looking for photos of the current diane arbus retrospective at gropius-bau.
i was searching for photos of those men and women that are named by their first and family name and the dangerous, bizarre, enviable thing that they could do. going through the exhibition it took me a while to register that there were times and places (and quite possibly still are) where a skill becomes you:
The Human Pincushion, Ronald C Harrison, NJ, 1962; or
Jack Dracula, the Marked Man, NYC, 1961
there were clearly more, and i am upset again with the one who fails to take notes for me, for not noting down more of those titles. even more so since arbus’s images are fairly ubiquitous online, the titles are not. it is as if those times when a strange skills could become your name remained captured in image but not in text. those individuals have become nameless, anonymous, merely to stand in for their bizarre skill.
in all this fascination about bizarre skill = identity, i haven’t even begun to explore a bit further the young couples she photographed with young women full of sadness and despair and gender relations expressed in stares, hands and gestures.
my suspicion is that those have travelled far more easily across time.