From the Serbian Pavilion, Vladimir Veric’s Nothing Between Us, conveying a loss of innocence. And from the Australian Pavilion, Simryn Gill’s scattered words.
Monthly Archives: November 2013
“my bad side”: Another Scene Dies Its Little Death
I thought this was a good scene because the character, Tony was clear – his mannerisms and irritating tone – the dialogue moved, and Dee showed who she was…and then I realized that none of it helped the story. Therefore it is dead.“I don’t do camping.” Tony cornered me. “Ever been to Fenwick?”
“Never heard of it.”
“It’s in the city.” He was lean and cocked his head in sickening confidence. “Big money thing. Fenwick.”
“You’re from New York?”
“It’s jacket and tie. I wasn’t into it, but it’s this big money thing, right?” He picked at his beer can tab, nodding to himself. “Augustine’s not like that.”
“It’s not a big money thing.”“You know Marky? He graduated Augustine last year. He lives in Chelsea.”
He tried to put his arm over my shoulder but I ducked away. “We did a bit of pre-game and then we’re driving through Chelsea. Marky likes to drive fast, right? He makes this turn and then another. He thinks this car is following us. And he wants to lose it. He was crazy like that.”
“Why were you driving? It’s New York.”
“Marky’s got this beautiful Beamer, man. Series Three, right?” He put his hand stupidly on my arm again, like he was hanging onto a subway pole. “Anyway, he runs this stop sign, a fucking stop sign in Manhattan. Chelsea, right? And this car really is following us, right? And I’m telling him to relax.” He was bending down, trying to find an angle to kiss. “It’s the cops. The cops, right? And we have like a case of beer and a 40 of vodka. Marky is freaking out. I tell him I’ll handle it.”
“my bad side”: Three Versions of an Opening
I continue to work on the opening to my novel, my bad side. I have the original, written three years ago, Version One: I liked my face in the cab window, fading in and out with the shadows, my eyes there, my mouth, and then all of me, my neck and chest, my bra strap just there and then gone and just the buildings, the slumped scaffolding and empty street. There was a kind of liquid sound, almost like rain, inside me, a fluid crinkling in my brain, chewing into my ears and down my neck..Crystal said she had brain cancer. She was always saying things like that, determined to be the loneliest, the purest of all. I’d have to call her when I got home.
Two years later, I put together Version Two: I watched my face fade in and out against the shadows and buildings, my eyes and mouth, and then all of me, my neck and chest, my bra strap suddenly there and then gone into the scaffolding and lights, and then a police car, its blue and white lights swimming back and forth, and an officer stretched out against the passenger side, his right leg angled into the road. The cab turned, and my face was in the window again, the flat stone of Battery Tunnel and then the gravel and bent-over plastic fences in front of my building. “$9.40.”
And now, I have a combination of Versions One & Two (without references to Crystal or the police): Version Three: I liked my face in the window, fading in and out with the shadows, my eyes there, my mouth, and then all of me, my neck and chest, and then everything gone, just the buildings, the slumped scaffolding and empty street, Bowling Green locked and empty. The cab rattled heavily over a rutted grate as I watched a line of light glide across my arms, jump down and vanish in a flash across my dress. I was home.
Ragnar Kjartansson’s S.S. Hangover
Ragnar Kjartansson’s latest work, S.S. Hangover, offers peaceful music and quiet, a journey that goes nowhere, yet never ends. Six musicians play a 5-minute piece (composed by Kjartan Sveinsson) in a mini-Viking ship that circulates two large slips at the back of the Venice Biennale Arsenale complex.
There is humor in the piece – the name of the ship, the seemingly pointlessness of the journey – but it is a contemplative work, offering the viewer a moment to think, to drift, to consider where we might be next.
I watched on the final day, a chill in the air, as everyone smoked – musicians, composer and artist alike – and the moment to disembark arrived and they set sail on the last tour of a six-month journey.The captain pushed off, pipe in hand, and steered the miniature vessel on its tiny course, and the musicians played, paused and played again, left a lone trumpeter on a dock, returned for him again, played and drifted on in silence, played again. Happily, it is an almost endless thing, something to remember as we look forward to Kjartansson’s next work, more time to think, at The New Museum in 2014.
Venice Biennale 2013: “You’re Going the Wrong Way!”
We had to catch the final sailing of Ragnar Kjartansson’s S.S. Hangover at the far end of the Venice Biennale 2013 and returned a couple of hours later against the crowds…
Through the Bahamas Pavillion.. Through South Africa…Past the Giant Woman…Winding our way through all the perversions…My partner telling me that this year’s Biennale was more about the artists’ stories rather than the art…Under the Swinging LatvianTree…Around the Representation of Symbiosis…Back to the open air…All of which gave me that distinct Poseidon Adventure feeling: You’re Going the Wrong Way!
Sweet Home Alabama in Hotel Danieli, Venice
Venice’s Hotel Danieli, built in the 14th century as a Doge’s Palace, has been host to great writers such as Dickens, Zola and Goethe and features Murano glass chandeliers and original works of art. However, last night, it had an strange lilt, as the piano player was deferring to his American clientele with such songs as Sweet Home, Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd), Crocodile Rock (Elton John) and Take Me Home, Country Road (John Denver) to which many sang along. It was an odd tone only made worse when I asked for the bill, “Compiti, grazie.” (Indeed, like many, I needed to do my homework.)
Venice Biennale 2013: Gold Coins to Drunk Mice
I wanted to write something thoughtful about my visit today to the Venice Biennale, but I absorbed too much of it…Gold coins raining on women…
A tiny kid-world perfectly ordered…
A preteen’s idea of pornography…
A piece of wood smothered in nails…
And a drunken mouse…
and so my head don’t work too good now.
Writing on a Train to Venice
“Half a Life” (Darin Strauss)
Darin Strauss’ Half a Life is an intensely personal experience. The raw and relentless prose made me turn within and question who I am. Not that I have had the same experience as Strauss – who accidentally ran over a girl when he was a teenager – but that I have moments in my life that make me shudder, make me turn back and wonder who that was that went through that. Where is that person in the me that is now?No one who encountered me in classrooms, at a frat party, the campus center, noticed the fierce inner battles I’d fought to make the different Darins into a Darin that friends could recognize.
The rawness of his prose is reminiscent of Joan Didion’s devastating The Year of Magical Thinking.
It is especially clear in the delicate descriptions of every moment, every thought, always returning to the same thing, someone who is gone.
I remember the first time after the accident my name was called in the class, the feel of pause and hush in the room, like deer scenting something strange. Everyone’s ears and tails flicked.
Strauss’ story is a compelling narrative, a personal journey that won’t leave you alone, that prods your memories and makes you think. Relationships are physics. Time transforms things – it has to, because the change from me to we means clearing away the fortifications you’ve put up around your old personality.
Five Things To Look At Instead of Being Thoughtful or Productive
In the spirit of the internet’s ever-spiraling plummet toward complete and utter meaninglessness, I offer my Five Things To Look At Instead of Being Thoughtful or Productive.