(working title) Visiting
Katta and I walk through a small square in a quiet neighbourhood. It’s nice working here she says, people greet each other in passing, a ‘hej-hej’ kind of place.
At her studio, one large painting hangs on a wall while a number of others are leaning, facing away as if waiting their turn. Katta begins hanging up the paintings on a smattering of screws and nails. I am greeted with an anatomy of cleaning trolleys-
glistening plastic bags bulging, microfibre cloths drying; jumbles of mops, brooms, buckets, paper towels, toweling towels, squeegees, rubber gloves, sprays, detergents and disinfectants,
fleetingly documented and painstakingly rendered
in quietly ambiguous repose; in various states of paintedness / undress. In the tips of my fingers, I can feel the looped threads of a microfibre cloth languidly drying on the lip of a plastic bucket.
I want to personalize these trolleys, name them like ships, and they are slightly ship-like, ships in the night, passing through the fogs of bodies passing through nondescript spaces - platforms, gallerias, corridors, airports. Our legs and our eyes are moving, roving through these landscapes and across and over these painted surfaces.
Look closer, they say.
We talk; about working, routine, time, cleaning, painting, layers applied, layers removed.
“There are never enough hours in the twenty-four.”
Imperceptible build ups of surfaces, paint, grime, dust.
I think about last week mopping my studio floor, working backwards towards the door, lifting and placing my bucket in tandem with my retreat, so as not to be stranded, islanded in the yellowy grey concrete pond. To back away from a space; like raking the gravel of a Japanese garden or obscuring footprints from the scene of a crime.
There are different ways of moving through the spaces depicted in these paintings; our own fluid, knowing movements contradict the edging, crab-like nature of the trolleys, who always appear to me as if they are walking sideways, always viewed in profile. Suddenly the periphery begins to come into focus, centred, like an abrupt sharp turn of the head.
Some backgrounds I recognise, some I don’t; most feel unimportant as spaces but vital as landscapes, as holding a vessel in a landscape, vessels of their landscape. Surely that red/green plastic bag combination at Kungsträdgården is pure coincidence? As a camouflage, or are trolleys chameleons? Or no coincidence at all, but a conscious effort for such objects of our shared spaces to be as inconspicuous as possible. Observed from the corners of our eyes. I appreciate coincidences; they make us pay attention to the world around us.
I become more aware of an inconsistency in time, because the cleaning trolleys speak of other hours than the stark afternoon sun beaming through the studio windows; tired late nights or early mornings when the light is soft and yawning. The hours mostly devoid of human bodies and activity, when the trolleys are out picking up the scraps of peoples’ lives, catching the streams of debris we leave in our wake.
I know Katta is nocturnal, painting late into the night, into the city’s hours of low vitality.
Towards the end, I ask a question; about a photograph or sketch or other source material, and she extracts an A4 printout from a thin drawer in a worn oil blue industrial-looking wheeled cabinet. The symmetry in that Katta herself works from a trolley is not lost on me.
I watch her hanging up the paintings on the smattering of screws and nails fixed to two adjacent walls, shuffling and moving items in and on her trolley that stands at a slight angle to the walls, making a sort of triangle. It is a working corner, filled with the traces and matter and residue of working, paint flecks, small scraps of tape and paper, tools and nails and stretched unpainted canvases close at hand, other materials with names unknown to me, all radiating out from the working corner, giving it a rhythm and activity. We gravitate towards corners and build ourselves up around them. A dense, concentrated space,
like a concave mirror.
(Working title) Visiting, accompanying text for the exhibition Arbetstitel by Katarina Lundberg, Ingela S Gallery, Stockholm, Sweden.
A scent permeates this, lavender, rose petals, coconut, sweat. It seeps out my pores. Pours into small ordered intervals that degrade, dishevel, distress with my mo-vements. I will run with them.
Hanging as long tears that collect and stretch, drawn downwards, pooling and gathering under my ankles. Gently lathered and washed by hand in the bathroom basin to then dry across the shower rail overnight. A second skin, or first layer; turning away while glancing back.
I see the traces of my own legs in these drooping, draping phantom limbs, elongated Lucas limbs that at once are and are not my limbs. I am the magician’s assistant, sawn in half.
I keep the extra weight of water, letting it trickle like threads through the rows and warrens of holes, of porous pumice limbs filled with dripping droplets that catch and stay like bubbles. Stays and runs, fluid; limber poised and waiting on tip-toes. They hang next to precarious glass shelves overflowing with make-up samples my mother sends me. The flotsam and jetsam of gift bags, magazine subscriptions, pharmacy giveaways. Small sachets of foundation, tiny phials of perfume, miniature soaps, muted shades of eyeshadow and garish shades of eyeliner. Why she bothers to send them, I don’t know, but I keep them together, partially used, long past their used-by dates. It is her collection, and to throw them away without permission would feel wrong. I sit absentmindedly rearranging them to the musical tinkling of droplets falling into the curved enamel tub.
I remember reading of stocking shortages during the war, and women drawing seams on the backs of their legs with chocolatey eyeliner, deceiving passers-by from a distance. Straight tattoo traces right up under the skirts; like a shiver going up a spine, making me feel hot and cold.
It is the sensation of my soft downy hairs peeking through the denier like static fronds tasting air with the tips of their tongues, through the innumerable pin prick holes expanding and compressing as I move, breathing. Our seams are negatives, light on dark. Making small holes at the base of the foot and letting the ladders shoot up our legs as we pull the fabric tight. Tight tights, dabbed with nail polish to seal our seams, racer backs, zip lines that sparkle and glisten. I run with them.
Drip-dry my mother used to say; wringing is bad for the fabric, twisting and tearing and splintering all those miniscule fibres into unnatural formations through the spirals of my clenched fists. Delicate wash, shampoo, not detergent, because the material should be soft, silky, have bounce. I lightly weigh the waterlogged reinforced toes of my dangling, drying, delicate wash stockings as if to see if the elastic still had that extra kick.
At home, I feel the thick pile of the bathroom mat on my bare soles and it feels lukewarm and pastel. I always make a point of never stepping on the cold tiled floor with bare feet, instead reverting to childhood games of islands and oceans, hopping between small pockets of land, small habits that crystallized sometime in early adolescence and are worn unconscious movements now, second natures, second skin.
Drying they recede like the tide going out. Shortening to reconfigure to my recognisable silhouette. There are my heels, my knees, my hips. A body doesn’t wash away.
It is always nice to revisit yourself.
Oarfish dwell in the twilight zone. Our seamy laddered limbs are like their spines that sway towards the night, to wash up in the tepid waters of old bathrooms. Oarfish are mediums, seers, predictors of quakes. Messengers from the Palace of the Sea God.
Ode to the oarfish, Florence Wild, 2018
Ode to the oarfish, accompanying text for Giulia Cairone in the group exhibition スウェーデン／日本 国際作家交流展
International Exchange Show Sweden-Japan 2018 in Tokyo 「Mångata / 木漏れ日」, Tokyo, March 2018.
MOONLIGHTING AT THE DEPT. OF WAYS AND MEANS
MUSIC: Strains of Carpenters ‘Yesterday Once More’
Every sha la la la
Every woah oh oh oh
The cool tones of a late night disc jockey:
And with that voice, like drinking cold water from a spring well, Karen welcomes you all to another Love Song til Midnight, alongside yours truly, here to help you turn the clock over into the small hours, with every sha la la la, every woah oh oh oh. Tonight, through means necessary and ways unknown, we wind up at the Dept. of Ways and Means, moonlighting on the airwaves, looking for the means to find the ways and the ways to get the means: straight to your heart.
Once more I was moonlighting at the Dept. of Ways and Means, a place that feels so enclosed it has the atmosphere of a labyrinth in a sphere, and, coupled the labyrinthine tasks of finding ways to use means and using means to find ways, time there had a way of turning in on itself... Moonlighters - that was what they called the casual night shift workers, who were each filled with ulterior motives and non-transferable skills. We all had our own methods.
I could find a footstep on a field of artificial grass. Swish swish, I whisper, but the grass as ever, would remain soundless.
PLAY MISTY FOR ME
And we’re back, this is Love Song til Midnight, still moonlighting and daydreaming, all night long. Different ways, different means, same modus operandi. On repeat and by request, that was Johnny Mathis playing Misty for me, the leitmotif of the evening.
Would I wander through this wonderland alone /Never knowing my right foot from my left /My hat from my glove/I'm too misty, and too much in love/
Let those hats and gloves come off, Johnny, the mist wash over you, here at the Dept. of Ways and Means (whispers) to your heart...
The Dept. of Ways and Means was a ways away, and the only means of access was on foot, the meaning being to make it hard to reach, as no one was using their feet in those days. It was like the artificial grass could sense one’s gait, a cadence and stride that vibrated through the arches and whorls of our soles, like treading over a waterbed with perfect balance.
There was a stillness, water off a duck’s back, sensed in the way condensation would prickle over the perfectly glistening marble staircases cast in the finest linoleum, and across the tesselating faux-bois parquet floors. Lots of soft space. Swish swish sung the eaves and the sashes and the flies.
PLAY MISTY FOR ME
Playing Misty for me, on Love Song till Midnight, that was Erroll Garner. By request, on repeat, going out to yours truly and all you other lonely moonlighters keeping the night alive and the artificial grass growing. Swish swish goes the seconds hand as we round up and wind down to the strike of twelve, as I clock off here and make my way across the lawn to the Dept. of Ways and Means (straight to your heart).
Ways and Means move. Like ships in the night, hard to catch. Like cats, all grey. Hard to differentiate between them and the seemingly as endless as the task of tailing them. And soon, I started to realise the ways and means of the Dept itself, it had its own methods, that moonlighting was to expose my ways and means, my thoughts, impulses and reactions.
Labyrinthine, spherical, artificial: everything was the other way round, ways were means, means were ways, waysmean, meanways
PLAY MISTY FOR ME
PLAY MISTY FOR ME
Every sha la la la
Every woah oh oh oh
Florence Wild, 2018
Moonlighting at the Dept of Ways and Means, accompanying text for the show The Dept of Ways and Means by Richard Krantz and Katarina Sylvan, Platform, Stockholm, Feb-Mar 2018. Photo Tomas Sinkevičius.
The jacket does not have the banana, banana has been peeled. Banana is totally peeled. Good shape overall. Banana is peeled. Peeled banana. Pealed banana. Banana is pealed. Banana is completely peeled. Banana has been peeled, but still pretty crisp.
Banana is totally PEELED (no yellow at all)
SLEEVE IS MISSING BANANA
No banana. Intact banana. Banana intact but has small tear on side. The banana peel is intact looks like small tear 1" down on peel but matched up perfectly. Half of banana torn off.
looks kool with half exposed banana.
VERVE GERMANY BANANA. Banana looks as though it has been peeled half off then possibly glued back on with some damage at the top. Half of banana peel peeled off top to middle. Banana nearly intact with partially some folds/creases, some slight tears and rips, banana is in 2 piesces. Sleeve is half peeled, small pen marks here and there, little ageing signs, banana peeled off completely.
Full banana, slightly off center and a little over the top edge, but all there.
Banana is 95% unpeeled, just a small part missing near top. BANANA still 99% instact. Small portion of banana missing (approx. 10% tip and top). Banana peeled 1/3 at bottom.
BANANA INTACT! TORSO SHOWN!
Peeled banana. "Airbrushed" cover. Pink banana only. Writing on pink (peeled) banana. Cover has been peeled, even a piece of the pink banana is missing. This is a peeled cover, i.e. No banana. Very good plus copy mono peeled banana pink. Excellent condition, peeled banana. Unpeeled banana. Sharp corners.
Jacket does not have the banana, sleeve hard used, karton open at the outsides, banana have a cut.
BANANA IS COMPLETELY PEELED OFF
Every movement brings peril
from parallel lines, an accompanying publication to the exhibition parallel lines at Galleri Verkligheten, Umeå, august 2016.
On silence and stillness
during late nights and early mornings in Umeå
where light is pale and still and silent and slips
in through the slits in the venetian blinds
curling like tendrils under the travel eye mask which I wear to block out this intrusion on my habits, and it feels like moistened cotton balls on my eyelids pressing me into sleep.
I lie motionless, as still as light.
When it tries to wake me, I remain silent.
The silence of the north is naked, exposed. A silence infused with light, a soft gauze film dampening the air with the slowness of humidity. I walk slower; I don't listen to music. It feels inappropriate, a faux pas – a deliberate fuck you to 'here', right now.
Like the past, 'here' we do things differently. I don’t need to be further removed from my senses.
There is a bathtub in the apartment and most nights I lie in the shallow pool as it drifts into lukewarm, gently pouring runnels of water across my torso.
I appreciate the wordlessness of water.
The first few days the wind blew unnaturally strong.
” It’s not usual, but it's not uncommon”, or so I was told, yet it felt like a rebellion on behalf of the city, my presence both the cause and the effect of this change in tempo. I stay indoors in the one-room apartment unless absolutely necessary and through the large double-glazed windows I watch the birch trees soundlessly shudder and flail like bodies in ecstasy while sipping cask wine with delicate, considered movements.
Damp silences are replaced by the constant shivering of the birches small leaves as the wind streaks through the tree-lined avenues. The silence of white noise. The sound of rice grains dumped en masse upon a concrete floor. Nature sounds like chain mail; up in arms, metallic.
Umeå's first line of defence has always been its trees. The row of birches along Östra Esplanaden halted the progression of the Great Fire of 1888, when the sun was high, the rain was scarce, and the wind blew unnaturally strong. The gale force winds bore the fire throughout Umeå’s cramped quarters and winding streets until the city was a tired wreck, the wind carrying the fire across the river into Teg and onto Ön.
The only things left standing were chimneys; motionless, backs turned.
“they are doing the same thing as yesterday”
“they will do the same thing tomorrow”
“so they are doing it in perpetuity.”
The day is comprised of four parts, corresponding to the four seasons and the four weeks of the month. Morning, or spring, is a time of promise. Noon, summer, the period of growth; afternoon, or autumn, is the period of realization. Evening must be winter, but I never found out what evening represents – as if this time of day did not exist the Northern June. The period of realization extends silently into the small hours like an image coming into focus.
Do we stare at our screens the same way those before us gazed at the stars?
Stillness is not always the absence of movement; stillness is a consistency like toothpaste. A liquid solid, or a solid liquid. The gradual transition from light to dark, the greys, yellows, blues, pinks and purples that colour the sky after the sun has disappeared below the horizon and that greets it upon its return.
I have lost track of time I murmur inside of me. I don't feel so far north until darkness doesn't fall.
I believe in fate. In coincidences, conspiracy theories and sometimes destiny. That accidents are just ideas not yet thought. That my own decisions and the events over which I have no control are on equal footing. But I don’t believe in a higher power.
Behind refrigerated glasses
not quite thawed
a chilled condensation of aloofness or uncertainty marks you out as a visitor
still acclimatizing to the change in temperature
Or the change in pace, in space
And the actions of the visitor are always repetitious, familiar, recognizable because everyone acts alike in a strange land
That’s how we know they are tourists
they remain in light
I become increasingly aware of my own movement: gait, rhythm, cadence. Navigational tools of the body as I wander through Umeå’s viscosity. Every movement brings peril; peril being the possibility of action, of chance, of the unexpected: remnants litter the city after the gale force winds – are the broken boughs and trunks of young saplings just further casualties from Umeå’s first lines of defence? On Ön I duck and weave and sidestep along the narrow paths encumbered with debris while mosquitos manage to penetrate two layers of clothing to feast on my blood. A foreign delicacy.
Efforts to blend in, to transition into darkness, to slip below the horizon, feel superficial. My presence is refracted off the external surfaces through which I interact, mirage-like.
I stare compulsively into apartment windows of inhabitants who no longer notice the lightness of night, oblivious to the stretching of time pulled tauter every evening. The stretching of natural light to unnatural lengths. But what is natural? Natural light is so desired, commodified, replicated, and controlled. This light of 1am feels as unnatural as the daylight fluorescent tubes fraudulently flooding my studio.
By evening, I am hurtling towards darkness. In a reverse parallax, the light appears to change before the scenery does; a fog descends, shrouding the tree tops and giving the light a sort of tangible elasticity which would leave a sticky residue if touched.
Touch is a commitment, a reach into the unknown, in a way that differs from sight and hearing. Even accidental brushes denote a sense of proximity to an object where the invisible barrier delineating personal space has no room for construction. The desire to remain self-contained and intangible intensifies.
I lose touch as I don’t have to feel my way in the dark.