Today, Tomorrow, 2023, Digital print
I woke up having forgotten which way to turn the key to my door.
It was as though somebody had taken apart pieces of me while I had been asleep, only to put me back together, like a puzzle; and in the process had misplaced one of the pieces. So irrelevant it had been, that the puzzle looked complete enough without it, and the solver just walked away shrugging.
Or maybe it was an accident on a microscopic scale, concerning a couple trillion neurons and synapses, and a single fallen martyr.
I returned to Saint-Etienne after a year’s absence. My old studio used to have a municipal alarm system like the one in the image, above. It would blare out with deafening wailing sounds like clockwork on the first Thursday of every month. I usually put on ear protection and worked through the noise. If the alarm test day coincided with a morning when I brought my newborn into the studio, we had to go out of the building and down the street to escape the noise. I can’t imagine living somewhere where air raid sirens are an almost daily occurrence that actually indicates real and present danger.
Hungarian Oak, Glasgow, July 2023
Letter from Glasgow: Living Oaks
That evening, when I had finished the drawing, I walked down the hill by my house. I stopped by a tree at the bottom of the hill. It is a tall oak, with arms raised up as if in greeting. You could not hide in this one’s skirts, but her head is almost heart shaped. A plaque says that this is a Hungarian oak, planted in 1918 to celebrate the granting of votes to women. I think of it as a tall woman. Young, by oak standards. Oak trees can live a thousand years. Two thousand, according to Pliny the Elder.
Letter from Glasgow: Train to the Future
I had hoped to go back to Prague for the last month’s residency, to see what remained of my memories, but it turned out that I could not. I had wanted to approach the city by train again, from the other side, thirty three years later. There would be no radio chiming the hours, no polished wooden corridors or jars of tea in metal holders, perhaps no mystery. A journey of nostalgia, of curiosity?
The gallery attendant has left the room, a clipboard with her list of visitor numbers lies on her chair, and a book, Instructions for a Heatwave. It looks like a novel, not a handbook. Although we could do with both. The heatwave is much hotter than the one thirty years ago.
Il arrive qu’au cœur des tourmentes et des guerres qui englobent tout de boue, de sang et de mort, on puisse s’arrêter de faire face quelques moments qui deviennent sacrés. A ce moment-là, l’apparition d’un monde en paix reprenant ses couleurs et sa grâce sont sources d’apaisement. A la brutalité viendra toujours s’opposer la douceur dans un interstice de ce qu’on regarde.
It happens that in the midst of turmoil and wars that encompass all mud, blood and death, one can stop to face a few moments that become sacred. At that moment, the appearance of a peaceful world resuming its colors and its grace are sources of appeasement. Brutality will always be opposed by softness in an interstice of what we are looking at.
Letter from Glasgow: Shadow Boxing
Last week in London, spring was fizzing through branches of willow and lime, leaves unfurling in brightest yellow-green. I got off the train at Kings Cross and took a bus up the hill to Angel, through the blossom and the new leaves. I met my aunt at the top of the hill and she led me to a pub with a high-ceilinged back room, out beyond the bar and the noise, where we could talk. Sunlight striped the dark wood floor and the almost empty space was a relief.
My aunt bought us drinks and we sat at a table in the corner. She sat beneath the window, a dark figure against the sun, but light fell also from a smaller window at the opposite diagonal of the room. We were talking about death and of people close to us who found themselves suddenly in its shadow.
On dit, là-bas, que l’univers est né d’une seule goutte de lait. On dit, là-bas, que les arbres sont des cornes d’abondance et qu’ils pourraient nourrir encore longtemps l’humanité.
We say there that the universe was born from a single drop of milk. It is said there that the trees are horns of plenty and that they could feed humanity for a long time to come.
If a tree falls in a forest, and there’s no one around to hear it, does it make a sound? … I went to wander in the woods at the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring. T-shirts to snow and back again. Tiny saplings were pulling themselves out of the undergrowth, bluebells hesitantly unfurling their petals, deer footprints still fresh in the mud. We walked for a few hours with the sound of birds whistling in the air above us and the river rushing underfoot. Every 10 minutes, the air was punctuated by gun shots. Louder and louder they came in a cascade of rounds fired with deafening precision. The explosive noise of slick bullets raining on targets or beer bottles or whatever was propped up on the back porch of the house next door barricaded by pickup trucks parked on the front lawn. Wishing it would end, we walked to our car in silence.
Letter from Glasgow: April around the tables
April. It was Passover, it was Easter. Then it was Orthodox Easter.
We spent Passover week travelling, setting out on the first day and taking the long train north through Scotland, from Glasgow to Inverness and on to Thurso, the furthest point of the Scottish mainland. I had been invited to a seder but had had to say no as we would be travelling. I was curious as I have never been to a seder, although a friend once shared with me the hard boiled eggs in salt water and bitter herbs, one April in the Hebrides.
Letter from Dunnet Head: cosmic egg rolling.
I saw a huge form, rounded and shadowy, and shaped like an egg… Its outer layer consisted of an atmosphere of bright fire with a kind of dark membrane beneath it… From the outer atmosphere of fire, a wind blew storms. And from the dark membrane beneath, another membrane raged with further storms which moved out in all directions of the globe. Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias
Hildegard of Bingen, the medieval mystic and nun, had a vision of the world as a Cosmic Egg. She depicted the earth as a chaotic ball of confusion, contained within an egg-shaped universe. The four winds blow through this universe, concealing and revealing the heavenly bodies. Hildegard believed that the winds would eventually articulate a harmony with this chaotic world and the people in it, establishing calm and clarity, inside and out.
On Easter morning we painted the eggs that we had hard-boiled, then placed them in a box, and drove with our children to the nearby cliffs where the lighthouse stands, on the most northerly point of Scotland. The winds were blowing hard from all directions. The islands of Orkney were hidden by mist and the curved horizon was all sea and sky. We pushed our way through the fat and tearing gales and rolled our painted eggs at the edge of the world, through the slopes of heather, putting our hope in ritual, repetition, and the force of the winds.
When I made this series of anthropomorphic hammers I saw them as weapons rather than tools. To weaponise, the weaponisation of, Easter and egg — a free association of words circling round my head and not finding any order.
THE UNTOUCHED- Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica, 2023. A primary forest is a virgin forest, which has remained identical over the centuries without the presence of man transforming it. It has therefore never been exploited, fragmented or cleared by human hands and has remained intact over time.
L’intensité lumineuse augmente ou décline. La couleur et le volume des touffes d’herbe et de bruyère varient selon l’inclinaison des rayons du soleil. Le ciel se brouille parfois de nuages. Depuis vingt heures, la steppe patagonne défile sous nos yeux. Le spectacle est envoûtant. A l’avant du pont supérieur de l’autocar, il est panoramique. Un routard assis à côté de moi commente : c’est un film mais c’est mieux qu’au cinéma. Illusion d’optique : nous ne sommes pas assis dans un fauteuil immobile, c’est notre fauteuil qui se déplace dans une steppe d’une monotonie fascinante. La route coupe en ligne droite selon un axe nord-sud un plateau d’où émerge rarement un relief comme une bosse sur un crâne dégarni. L’autocar double un poids-lourd qui plafonne à 80 kilomètres-heure. On voit venir de très loin le camion qui remonte en sens inverse. Les chauffeurs se saluent peut-être comme des caravaniers. En train, il arrive qu’on se croie en mouvement alors que c’est le train voisin qui bouge. On s’en assure en regardant de l’autre côté. La pampa n’offre aucun repère.
“Über das Wasser” / “About Water”
On Easter Sunday at 7:36 am, a loud alarm sounded on the mobile phones of the residents of Hamburg. It was a warning that there was a major fire in the area. Residents were asked to avoid the city, stay at home, and keep their windows and doors closed as dangerous toxins were in the air.
It was difficult to extinguish the fire. It took days until the wind dispersed the toxic clouds that had spread.
I do not know if and how much of the invisible water under our feet, which we walk on every day, was used to extinguish the fire. I had never really paid attention to the small numbered blue ‘water’ signs until now.
The virtuous circle of Care, after Joan Tronto
For the week in which I was born and in which my mother passed away; a week apart, years apart.
On avait tellement parlé, j’avais l’impression de connaître toute sa famille. Le jour d’avant, on jouait aux cartes. Quand on a l’aviation ennemie au-dessus de la tête tout ce qu’on peut faire, c’est jouer aux cartes. Si la bombe tombe à moins de 5 mètres, la tranchée s’effondre et tu meurs dessous, si elle tombe plus loin et qu’elle atterrit sur une pierre, c’est bon.
Tous les deux, on était décidés à quitter la tranchée sans attendre les ordres. Abandon de position, c’était la cour martiale mais on n’avait pas le choix, il fallait sortir de notre putain de tranchée. Finalement, on est sorti tous les cinq. A ce moment-là, on ne savait pas que la première ligne s’était déjà retirée et que les gradés nous avaient laissé tomber. On a attendu la nuit. Avec les fusées, c’était éclairé comme un stade de foot. On a emporté nos fusils même si on avait plus de munitions. C’était bête mais dans la guerre, sans fusil, tu te sens nu.
Hypothèse : si le sentiment de liberté trouvait dans la brume les moyens de s’exprimer? Pendant plusieurs journées, nous avons expérimentés ce principe, ma fille, ses amis et moi-même. Nous avons dessiné un avenir flou – libre dans le flou, et nous l’avons filmé. Nous avons dansé l’invisible, chanté dans les ombres, éprouvé la nouvelle ère trouble qui nous entoure, nous avons respiré, ensemble, dans le futur.
Photography made during the long-term project Campagne de Paris, paysage triangulaire (2017-2023) on the Triangle of Gonesse (Paris region) – agricultural land in the process of artificialization.
I feel the need to mark this house that I have lived most of my life in; for what else do I have left as testimony that I once lived here for many years between several other occupants. I wish for something tangible to identify this house as my home, albeit a temporary home. A mark is personal, like a scar that holds memories, something to tie my living body to this cement body. When I say goodbye to my home, soon not to be, what I would reliably find beneath my feet, a firm ground of concrete mosaic, suddenly turns to water.
Women-Lighthouses – from left to right, shadows of Anne Brunswic, Eleni Wittbrodt, Alisa Berger,Catherine Radosa, Natacha Nisic, Cornelia Eichhorn, Katja Stuke, Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, 18/2/2023.
Je suis devenu un spécialiste de la peur, la verte, la bleue, celle qui paralyse, celle qui te fait galoper, celle te change en mouton ou en assassin. Je connais celle qui fait battre le cœur si fort qu’il te soulève la poitrine, un chien blessé à mort. La peur qui renverse l’estomac, tu dégueules, celle qui tord si fort les boyaux, les tripes, tu vas te chier dessus, les crampes, les jambes raides comme des piquets, tu ne mettras plus un pied devant l’autre. Je connais aussi les jambes en chandelles, tremblantes, flageolantes, tu tombes à la renverse comme une quille. Je t’ai dit que j’étais un spécialiste. Il y a la peur spéciale la nuit quand tu n’entends rien, celle quand tu crois entendre quelque chose mais c’est peut-être un copain qui se faufile dans le noir, il y en a qui se sont fait abattre comme ça, le bruit des bombardements, tu es assourdi, c’est la fin du monde, en un sens c’est comme un film catastrophe, on est tous ensemble, le bateau chavire, la tour s’effondre, tu peux crier, pleurer autant que tu veux, tu peux te débattre, il n’y a rien à faire, même Dieu ne peut rien pour toi.
Built between 1925 and 1926 at a cost of $30 Million USD, the Avon Lake power plant was shut down in 2021. The power station processed over 4,000 tons of coal a day and was cited by the Environmental Protection Agency for emissions violations.
The nonprofit Clean Air Task Force’s study from 2010 concluded that death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from the Avon Lake power station include: 29 deaths, 47 heart attacks, 440 asthma attacks, 21 hospital admissions, 17 cases of chronic bronchitis, and 23 asthma ER visits PER YEAR.