10.9.15

Walking in circles.



There is no internet when I am writing this. The small storm seems to be almost over and maybe I have to reset the modum or restart my computer but it is so quiet in here. No messages popping up, no small green lights flickering, just the sound of the rain falling down on Barcelona, on my windows, my small balcony.

I was sitting there earlier, outside, thinking about still being here when I was supposed to be on my way to a salt factory in Austria where I was going to make coffee every morning for 250 artists with a couple of diy coffee machines and cut up my suit in 250 pieces to exchange for 250 pieces of clothing and reassemble them into a new suit.

I am always, or at least often, writing about leaving or staying. Leaving and staying.
The whole week I struggled to make a decision, every day I was determined to finish my planning, book a slow bus or fast train, confirm my stay in Hallein, near Salzburg and my ongoing journey to Vienna and Sokolowsko, Poland.

Every day ay some point, when the planning drove me crazy, I decided to wait and see what would happen.

Nothing happened.

So I am still here. Exercising being here. And while I was doing that a helicopter flew over, the first time I saw a helicopter from up here, and I imagined it was coming to get me and would fly me somewhere, far away from everything I know, drop me in the middle of the something new, or something old but in a new skin. Somewhere green or blue. Forever. Which could be just for a moment. Or which might have been just this moment.

And the moment is sufficient. There is work to do. Here, to start with. 

 “I waisted my time” I thought. But I haven’t. Not when I am writing about it. Or when I waisted it for a good cause. To be here. On my own in an apartment on the fourth floor, writing words. Exercising being here. Exercising. Which means I still make a lot of mistakes. But I am getting better at it every day.

I took a photo of the helicopter flying off and when I looked at the photo just now I saw that instead of the helicopter, the small rooftop apartment across the big inner courtyard is more prominently present in the image. I remembered a quote I had read earlier today on a friend’s  Facebook page and can’t find just now because the internet is still down but it was about how the photo doesn’t show how a photographer looks at the world but shows his intimacy with the world. I know that often when I take a photo of something I see and I look at it afterwards, it shows something different than what I wanted to capture. That is also one of the reasons why I love taking polaroids. You know beforehand that you will capture something else than what is visible for your eyes so you have to use all your senses when you push the button, you have to feel the temperature, the atmosphere, see the light, listen and smell in order to feel what is the right moment to start the exposure. To open your camera eye to the world in order to open your own awareness to the world, to see in the image how you became part of the world you were seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling. Sometimes it is a perfect blend, sometimes it is a collission. Sometimes you are even part of another world than the world of what the image shows a part of. But the photo reveals it. It is magic.


On other days I have been looking at the window across the court yard, the one my photo shows. The blinds are down often, like now, but when they are open the window reveals stacks of books, piled up high on a table. I’d like to sit there and write. In that small room with a view of the sky. Write in the night when the lights on the borders of this cubicle of air go out one by one and in the morning when it is shady on that side. In the afternoons I would walk. And sleep in the evenings. Or dance. 

I miss my books. I miss writing. But you can’t have it all. Not at the same time. You can’t walk and dance and talk and write and be silent. Although sometimes I have the feeling it is all in my body when I am walking. My feet writing, my hands dancing, my mind sitting still. My whole body walking, talking in a speachless way.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with a friend who by now has arrived at Schmiede, at the 10 day residency in the salt factory on a small island in a city overshadowed by steep mountains. At the place where I am not.
We discussed her Manifest that is titled (or was titled, we also discussed the title so she might have changed it by now) The Revolution of Fashion by Individual Action and I brought her a jacket from my Memory Shopping collection. THE Jacket, she called it. And it is THE Jacket as much for me as it is for her. The first time I met Ines was at the opening of my exhibition in the WTA Project Space in Barcelona. All the clothes from my Memory Pocket collection were hanging from the ceiling, forming a small forest with people wandering through it, looking at the pockets in which I had embroidered my memories of walking through Barcelona. Everything was for sale, the money went to Arrels, a foundation working with and for the homeless in Barcelona. My favorite jacket wasn’t for sale, but I had forgotten to put it on the tag.
Ines came in, wandered around, looked at the jacket, slightly interested. The gallery owner told her she could try it on and she did and she didn’t want to take it off again. She offered me € 50,- for it, € 50 for the homeless for a jacket I had found on the street. I told her I had to think about it. I told her I would sell anything in the shop without blinking an eye but not that jacket. THE Jacket.

I had been wearing the jacket a lot myself. I embroidered both pockets. It reads:

counting days
counting steps

loosing count
counting loss


I had been counting loss since the day I arrived in Barcelona. It was embodied by the jacket. I knew hanging on to it didn’t make sense in a way. But I couldn’t let go of it. Not yet.


Ines came back another day and we talked for hours. And in my “holy” month of April, when finally I was supposed to do nothing, to stop counting, we did a project at the LaBonne women’s cultural center, lecturing and discussing about fashion, sustainabilty and slowness. About revolutionary acts.

A while ago I proposed Ines that she could adopt my jacket and she came back to the idea now. She took it to Austria, where it will be so much colder than it is here. Where you need a warm jacket. Where you need pockets to warm your hands in at night. Where the black and gold will go well with the whiteness of the salt and the wood and metal of the factory. Where I counted loss last year, when on the day of my arrival there I got the news a good friend had committed suicide the night before, September 10. Then I spent my first days there thinking about staying or leaving. I stayed then, like I do now. To count my loss, but only to see what I gained.

I stayed and staying means feeling at home and feeling at home means backing bread. I harvested some rosemary from the balcony, used garlic and walnuts. I started the dough yesterday, it is a slow bread, it takes 18 hours but it is extremely simple. All you need is time. I just added the nicely scenting ingredients and now the dough is waiting for another 2 hours. No kneading, the ingredients know how to deal with each other, like the way natural farming, as opposed to other ways of farming & gardening, propagates no tilling of the soil, because the soil knows how the deal with its ingredients.

The dough is waiting and I no longer wait for things to happen. The words happen and I follow them and they make me realize I took the right desicion. And I am sad not to be physically present at Schmiede but I am there anyway. The way I am in all the places I loved. With all the people I loved. And how they are all in me. That is the gain of loss. That is the life in death.

And while writing all of this down I am listening to music. I listen to the cd Sufjan Stevens made after his mother died. I listen to my favorite song, The Fourth of July, in which he sings “Make the most of your life while it is rife, while it is light – we’re all gonna die” and which always reminds me of two lovely ladies, my grandmother and my mother in law, who both died on the same day, the morning of the fourth of July, while I was in the USA working on a project about absence. I wear their rings on the same finger, touching each other, the silver one I got from my grandmother as a present when I was 12 and has been on my finger for 30 years and the golden wedding ring my mother in law wore for the biggest part of her life and has been there since I got married 8 years ago, 22 days after she died.

And I hope all of this makes sense. I hope hat my writing is useful. Not just something I do to understand things myself. Something else. Which is more difficult to write because you have to think not just about yourself but about other people as well. You have to be careful, careful but honest. Which sometimes means hurting people. I did that in the past and there is no way around it. But in pain there is gain as well. It is a way to learn. When it is caused with honesty. Bodily pain because you get older, because you did something you knew was risky, because of chance. Because it teaches you the world isn’t fair. Or maybe it is and the fairness is in the randomness of it all. In mental pain because you expected something else. Because you don’t want to deal with the pain somebody else is rightfully causing you.

And here I’d like to quote Tomas Espedal who just published a book, another book in which he stays very close to his own thoughts and actions. But the internet is still absent and I already restarted the modem and my computer but it is still silent and I have to rely on my memory. On hearing how he said in the video I saw that you can’t avoid it if you try to be true to yourself, if you want to be a writer.

The rain has stopped by now and it is light enough again outside to switch the lights of in here. The eternal blue sky is almost visible again. That is why I love living in Barcelona. Because of the blue, the blue of the sky and the blue of the sea. I will miss that when I move to Sokolowsko, to the small mountain town in the south of Poland where one of my favorite movie directors grew up and learned about how you always have to create a new image in your head based on the little information you get when you look at the world. Because it always only shows you a small part. Not only when you look at movies through a hole in the roof of the cinema, like Kieslowski was forced to do as a kid. Present throughout his oeuvre, he asks and attempts to answer "How should one live?" And in an interview he said, "Everyone wants to change the world whenever they make the effort to do something. I don't think I ever believed the world could be changed in the literal sense of the phrase. I thought the world could be described".

I could argue with him, I could argue about what “change” means. I do think the world can be changed by doing something. I strongly believe it and that is why the strong urge to write sometimes frightens me. Because it keeps me from acting. From acting in a different way.

I believe that describing the world can be one of the ways to change it. One of the ways to make people act. They are intrinsically connected. And when I have doubts I turn to other peoples’ words. I listen to Naomi Klein, Masanobu Fukuoka, to Giorgio Agamben. To Franciscus of Assisisi, Ludwig Wittgenstein, to Socrates. To Einstein, Walter Benjamin, Goethe, Rainer Maria Rilke, Roland Barthes. To Charles Bukowski, Henry David Thoreaux. To Werner Herzog, to Carl Jung. To Susan Sonntag, Hanna Arendt, Bruce Chatwin, Christian Bobin. To W.G. Sebald.

Sometimes I draw a tarot card to help me in my decision to stay or leave. The answer is always right. But the answer is there already, looking at the tarot cards is just a different way of looking at things inside yourself. Sometimes I look at the planets to see if I can find a route in the way they are aligned. Sometimes I listen to the world and today I imagined that the thunder gods made such a noise to tell me that I made a wrong decision by not leaving. Or maybe they just showed their approval by making me stay inside and write. My crashed but still working iPad is covered in cracks forming a big eye sending rays of vision into the world. When I soak the small pan I use to heat up milk for my coffee, a complete universe shows up. I didn’t see a helicopter flying over into an unknown destiny this morning, but I saw a small enclosed room with a world of information and a limitless view into the sky.



My brain told me to leave, to go for new opportunities, to meet a few dozens of old friends and close to 200 new people, possible new friends. But my gut feeling told me to stay.

And I believe we have to think more with our guts. And then act. Or write. Think and then do something, make a chance. Or do nothing. Sometimes the best act is to do nothing. You have to be useful to the world and sometimes the best way to do that, or to get there, is by doing nothing. By changing in this way. Because it is all in the change. We have to be intimate with ourselves in order to be intimate with the world and we can only change things when we are deeply connected to the world

In an article I posted on Facebook recently, about ten ways to really truthfully help in the present refugee situation, Naomi Millner wrote that maybe the best way is to do nothing. To not try to solve what we caused. Of course she also named ways to act, but ways to go back to the cause, ways to change the future instead of just trying to solve a current crisis.

By now my bread is in the oven. It will be ready to eat in an hour or so. Feel free to pass by to taste it, today or tomorrow. But check first if I’m in. I never know where I will be. I am here now but staying doesn’t mean I don’t have to leave. I have to leave this Saturday latest. The owners of the apartment will be back and if I have found a place to stay in Barcelona I will still be around but I might also be on my way to Austria. Or Poland. Or Amsterdam. To bake bread for other people once I feel at home. You’re welcome there as well. Or maybe I’ll still be here on the 29th and hear Sufjan Stevens sing live “We’re all gonna die”. Who knows. If I’ll be here, I mean. Sufjan would probably answer “God knows”. But I don’t believe in God. The other thing we all know. We adults do. Children don’t. My young cousins show me again and again by asking when their grandfather will come back. By saying he has been gone long enough now. More than 8 months now. A lifetime for them.
Children are immortal.But in a different way than my father thought he was immortal until he died. And that is why we have to be like children now and then. To be immortal for a moment again. While knowing we are going to die. Enjoying the moment even more, knowing that.

And even though I don’t believe in God, Christian Bobin might be right writing:
“There is something in the world that resists the world, and this thing is found neither in churches nor in cultures nor in the thoughts that people have about themselves, the deadly thoughts they have about themselves as serious, adult, and reasonable; and this thing is not a thing but God, and God cannot abide in anything without immediately shaking it up, without bringing it low. Huge God can abide only in the refrains of childhood, in the lost blood of the poor, or in the voice of plain, simple people. All of these hold God in the hollow of their open hands, a sparrow soaked like a piece of bread by the rain, a sparrow chilled to the bone, squawking, a chirping God who comes to eat from their naked hands.
God is what children know, not adults.
An adult has no time to waste feeding sparrows.”

And this:
“In looking at the adult one discovers the child. The growth of the spirit is the inverse of the growth of the flesh. The body grows by taking on size. The spirit grows by losing height, by losing hauteur ..... the man is the flower, childhood is the fruit.”

I am always hesitant to use quotes with the word God in it. I don’t believe in God and I try to stay far away from religion but I also want to be in the world, know all about it in order to form an opinion, to formulate my own ideas. What I do believe in are words. And maybe that is why I don’t believe in God. God is a word. What Bobin writes about is something else. And I don’t like that he calls it God but that is his choice. I could have used the last quote only but that doesn’t do him justice. And I shouldn’t forget that Sufjan Stevens is also very religious. I have to use words I don’t like in order to think about their meaning, to change their meaning, to find words that represent better what is being meant.

Enough writing. The sun is back. It is time for a walk. I will wear my ears, the soft black ones with fake shiny diamonds. Kara’s ears. My young Nomad friend. Not even a handful of years old.






p.s. 1: The bread got burned, I don’t know why. I’ll try again tomorrow.
p.s. 2: I drew a tarot card to find out what staying longer in Barcelona would bring me. I drew the Five of Wands, Strife. The card signifies a general condition in which the creative power is blocked. Because the free flow of energy is greatly restricted, it has begun to stagnate. The tiny wings at the bottom of the staff continue to struggle, attempting to lift the leaden weight. It asked “What insurmountable obstacles seem to stand between you and the realization of your goals? How does the mountain of duties and tasks which stands before you look right now?” It suggests I should go go step by step, to take everything a little easier. It advises me to draw another card to see how I could do that. I did. I drew the Sun: “The fulfillment of your wishes is possible here and now. Relax, and give yourself up to the dance. The right partners will find each other.”

I was already planning to go dancing tonight. 

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