Sunday, June 22, 2008

in which great agitation is felt by the fish until light is restored to the kingdom.

in the week leading up to the winter solstice I kept myself busy.
As i have said, there had been strangeness and storms.

Last Thursday, the 17th, I had to walk out of a seminar mid morning,because I began to tremble unaccountably. I went to the university library and found I couldn't write, either. I ended up editing images for my animation, fading the images to white.

I couldn't explain myself: one of my colleagues, asks, "what's wrong? Why aren't you listening to Sean?"
and I have no satisfactory answer, just
"I'm too agitated" doesn't seem good enough.

That night, I find myself at the State Library, listening to folks debate Art, Mind and Beauty.
A strange event, really, with short talks from Imants Tillers, Ian North and Evian Gordon, which underlined the fact again, that there are no universal truths, and they will never find the chemical symbol for wonder.

I am trying to write about wonder myself.
Everything I think seems to evaporate.

Question time was about three seconds long and hijacked by the ubiquitous "fourth speaker", the retired intellectual who delivers a mini paper in the guise of a question. You know the one, he's at every conference in some form or another. I am reminded of the character in Nicole Krauss's book who feels so invisible he is compelled to drop things on the checkout queue so that people are forced to acknowledge his existence.
I run all the way across the domain in the dark. I am wearing black boots and my dress flaps as I run: this exhilarates me. Momentarily drives away the sense of breathlessness pressing on my chest.

Friday: I paint. I am using wax medium, and I am reminded that if it were only for the smell and the act of moving stuff around the surface of my canvas, I would still do it. I create blurs of light, I disappear into small relationships of blue and green. I consider that the colour crimson underwater becomes like a plum black, that is what blood must look like. I am suddenly feeling that I am affirmed in the act of painting, though what I wish to say could be so easily said using media images. Still: I like the referentiality to photos, but painting itself is insistent within me, I have to say.

I meet the dear Miss Boat at an opening at Gallery 4a. The reason I can't find her when I get there is because her and the other gals have seated themselves at a table at which they are making little objects out of white earthenware clay to place in a sand installation on the floor. When I spot them I fix my eyes upon them so firmly that I almost walk right through this sand installation.
I spend most of the evening fashioning little forms out of clay myself. The artist, Vipoo Srivilasa, a gleeful soul, takes photographs. This is a splendid opening, says the fish to herself.

He leads me over to his work, which is a captivating series of ceramic hands on a shelf before a mirror. Decorated in blue on white, he references imagery from both his Thai heritage and his new Australian home, so we find sets of keys on each finger, buddhist symbology imposed upon a kangaroo, random, strange, beautiful combinings. He leads me up close, and points out how there is always something secret to find on each sculpture, and the mirror reveals the reverse side.
Look, he smiles, there are lovers hiding in there,

And so there is.

At this point I catch sight of my own face in the mirror between all the delicate white hands and give myself a fright. Vipoo laughs, his face is so joyful in his bright red spectacles.
Clover Moore, I hear, is acknowledging the traditional owners of country, her distinctive voice floats over the crowd of heads. I drink two glasses of red wine and later eat uighur noodles with the boat girl and speak French with a French man. Which seems so effortless when you are almost-drunk.

Gallery 4A opening, June 2008
Originally uploaded by dirge

Tuesday: sydney biennale opening at the mca. Miss Jane, Miss Boat and the Guitar Lover. Miss Boat and I ate Pad Thai on the ferry across the harbour, and meet the Miss Jane outside near Tony Schwensens sausage sizzle.
We decide that just this once we won't wait through all the speeches, but escape into the galeries after drinks: we hatch this very cunning plan and all promptly lose each other. I unexpectedly come across Vipoo wandering amongst the cobras.
I am so excited to be amongst it all, like a child, really. So much to see.
One room features Olafur Eliasson with two Alexander Calders. I publicly shame myself with the mistaken belief that Calder is still alive and is therefore included: tis a puzzle. But he is long dead. for Gawds sake he was BORN in the 19th century, who'da thunk?
So why is he there?
I should have asked Caroline Christov Bakargiev as she raced by in a russet blur.

In the midst of my marvelling at the discourse between Calder and Eliasson, it occurs to me that I am rarely critical. I am always ready to interpret, happy that things just ARE.
Miss Boat is cross with the historical inclusions. And the room with the dead horse enrages her, the paintings by the video artist especially so.
She hates that gratuitous critical-self referential smartiness, that biting of the feeding hand, whereas I in my dumbass way was laughing at the deactivated old master style frames around the pseudo cubist artworks by the video artist.
But what she said was quite true.
Why doesn't the suspended horse exist in a room of its own? Surely, as she points out, it has far more to offer than the image of two glasses of water which has a whole space to itself.
My friend Michelle who is a TV arts producer tells me when she was looking at the horse sculpture Leo Schofield was ringing her to say he had missed his train in Vienna.
There's something poetic about that, but I'm not sure I can articulate what it might be.

On Friday I lsten to Mark Titmarsh speak upon his work at the UTS gallery. He has created wonderful objects which question the notion of painting itself, reject it, and then re-embrace it. He questions the act of painting, and yet celebrates it. Entirely outside of this, the works are beautiful,and speak outside of this discourse anyway: I love them.

I remind myself, as I do, that I seem to love everything.
I just love the elegance of an idea resolved, to be perfectly honest.
I return to my scratchy old paintings, and wish I could resolve my own things.

On Friday night I rewrite a short story I wrote nearly three years ago. I am happy with it.

The solstice,21st June.

Every dark and curdled cloud and splatting spit of rain is banished in a spectacular return of light.
Light returns, even though it is only two weeks or so, I am reassured by it. The sea has finished tossing and pitching, but early in the day the sun shines threefold ito my eyes from the entirety of ocean, sun, and a great wide stretch of mirrored sand:

I am blinded with it.

A new year. I am standing at the beginning of it, and wonder what it will bring.


genevieve said...

Ooh lovely. All of it (except the breathlessness, of course - it settled down, did it?)
That's great about your story.

Mary said...

I am totally full up, replete with this post. Satisfied in the best possible way.

I am concerned about the trembling.

I do not play the piano.


Suse said...

tis a tipping, tilting time, this solstice.

travistee said...

It's funny to read of 'winter solstice' having our summer here, of course. I love your life. You are quivering, and it shows!

Louise Dalton said...

Hey, busy week!
That light on the water looks so refreshing. Perhaps some winter sunbathing might be soothing for the ruffled soul? Perhaps accompanied by some porridge? and the weekend newspaper?
Take care!
Lou X

Anonymous said...

Gosh do you think that the Solstice can make people feel shaky. I have felt shaky for a few days now - I assumed it was PMT!

Intrigued re the short story. Is it the one you sent me that you have rewritten or another?

I still feel weird actually - restless I think - and yet I have nothing to make me feel that way. Strange!

fifi said...

trembling and quivering...
it is like, I imagine, having a twin and the other twin is upset but you feel it and thus tremble. That is the only way I can explain it. The winter solstice is an ending of sorts, and I guess things happen around this time so here is plenty of agitation out there.
But winter here is very beautiful, and full of strong light and clear air, right here it is never really cold. for long.

I should make more cakes like you Suse..
Rb, it is a different one. I haven't re-read the one I sent you, but I might this week if I have time. This one is quite lovely.

Luhlahh, yes porridge , of course!

Mary, I had some piano lessons a few years ago. I just never have time to practice. I lived vicariously through the daughter but she has now given up piano, sadly. Such a lovely thing to do. Even scales are fun, and thats about all I can play these days.

trav, you are having a far more exciting life than me right now!

fifi said...

Thanks Genevieve,
I'm not sure what to DO with it now, I print them up nicely and read them. then I put them away. :-)

Pam said...

I'm sure it'll bring lots of good and interesting things.

But I don't want it to be the solstice! That means downhill to winter for us and frankly it hasn't been very warm yet here!

Regulus said...

It's summer solstice here ... In many ways, I prefer your winter solstice along a storm-tossed sea, but I seem to thrive on angst in between those bursts of winter sunlight.

Who is Sean? And why were you trembling?

fifi said...

Sean was speaking at the Seminar, another research student.

I was having one of those strange moments, as I have described above. Sounds more dire than it possibly was!