Monday, May 28, 2007


I can still taste her when I remember

Waking up amidst a tangle of limbs and red swathes across my legs, oozing out of her, where I'd felt her, where I could smell her on my fingers, where my thighs rubbed against her, where her nocturnal frictions had left an exquisite trace over my very happy flesh.

Later, I washed myself and went wandering into the Rothgo room at the Tate Modern. I'd sauntered past Herman Nitsches hysterical red gashes on canvas, to immerse myself in the unbearable intensity of the long dead Marc. Superficially it seems almost monochrome, diachromatic stains spread across stretched canvases. I stood and stared. Raised my fingers to my nose and inhaled. Somehow in the subdued light I could see or sense the tracery of his brushes, blotting across each patch of colour and where they bleed into each other. I heard my own blood in my ears, I could smell hers again, taste mine where she'd bitten my lip and i felt myself swoon, felt tears in my eyes for this strange sad melancholic miracle - I felt like I was inside Marc's body and inside my own. I fell in love with him again, prayed silent whispers of gratitude to some imaginary deity that he'd picked up a brush and sticky pigment and done this......

I must have looked like a total wanker sitting down to send an SMS. I was texting my friend in Finland - who'd sent me a desperate message the night before, finishing off her body of work - pushing herself beyond reason - hating herself, hating her work, hating her life and loving it in equal measure. In reduced txtage I tried to remind her of the brilliance, beauty, sheer life affirming agonizing wonder of what she was doing.... doesn't it make sense? you see Rothgo, text a painter.....

So, a fortnight later, I trudged across some European mud. ice had melted and the fields were gashed with furrows, interspersed with bits of brown and patches of green. Walking through this closely worked earth of stone and moss and mud to my friend's studio. arriving and seeing the same gestures, the same marks of earth scratching swathes re-enacted across her canvases - cut by images of dipossessed - framed in their own strange aporias or aphasias or both......

We looked at her work - stepped back, paced around, stares out the window. I suggested we go for a wander outside, feel the earth under our feet, breathe some air. and then back, laughing after hugging and dancing around outside in late evening sunlight, we looked at the paintings again.

I gave some suggestions for the last 6hours of working the pieces - what she could resolve or why she mightn't. she asked how I could know so much, see so much. I said i'd had 9 years of knowing her work - seeing her move to plant gestures of paint, to scrape back, what she did with her neck and legs as she mixed up each colour.... and then walking through the landscape she'd painted, the place she'd worked through - the same place viewed and ploughed and cut and worked by 4 generations of her family - I could taste her body, her blood, her very being in the work....

The intimacy between a painting and the viewer, the intimacy between artists who know each other's work is as intense as that between two lovers. Maybe that's why i shied away from ever hitting on to anyone at art school - It seems like we're too close already. sacredly brilliantly close - but also scarily so.

Maybe that's why I think of the painter friends as family - because there's such an intense embodied connection to each other, to each others work. At art school watching the first agonized gestures as we do stupid tonal exercises- working up to something else - less important but so loaded with our dreams our ideas of who we are... until alone in our studios, texting each other, remembering each others words as we feel our selves disintegrate and all we have left is the paint, the marking, the mad trudging dance through the world.....

God how I have hated Griselda Pollocks comment about painting being the expression of a subjectivity that is masculine - or some such binarised scary shit. I hated it then and hate it now - not only because of it's violence against the female painters i know - but it's violence against paint - against the sheer joyous terror of looking at stuff that is so profoundly indeterminate - so anti-subjective - that it did and does make me want to scream....

On my first day back i went out to see the work of 2 dear very close friends. the first, a former lover, delighted me, surprised me so deeply. Strangeness of intimate gestures, bits of her body trapped in glistening coloured cream, modelling into furlicues - and then other surprises, at her finesse, her subtlety, things I'd never seen before. the strangeness of an old lovers body - remade, moving on - well beyond me and our past.

smiling, I went to another gallery and saw a large strange work of another friend. such finesse again, brought into play with a much stranger assurance of the impossibility of his existence, or stillness or something. I entered the piece, heard planes in the distance, sat staring and smiling for half an hour. what did I see? movement, play, strange strange slowness of time, mixing, feeling spinning, divine madness hushing quietly in the corner.

Still jetlagged, yesterday I sat for an old art school friend, meditating silently as he mixed up his pallette. years or portrait modelling taught me well - that someone isn't ever painting ME - and what they want from me as a sitter is to be a strange absent presence - so they can paint - the paint - so the shapes and colours and light reflecting off my face and hair and thick glasses, provide a structure so they can go into their own experience of paint, how it mixes, oozes, slides under their brush. It's not about objectification at all - but a very intimate desubjectification - a movement by both parties out of ourselves into something else.

My friend the portrait painter is my age - and his stack of CD's were a nineties grunge kid's dream. I put on one I hadn't heard for nearly a decade - the favourite CD of my first girlfriend, the one we'd made love to again and again, and listening to it, inside i went back into myself, into my memories of being inside her, feeling unbearable close. Mazzy Star's five stringed serenade, my fingers like strings playing inside, strumming, worshipping adoring, until then I had no idea how wonderfully vaginas could extend themselves and how terrifyingly strange blood that wasn't menstrual could be. The first time I drew her blood with my poorly cut nails I pannicked.....eve now long nails make me gag.

Yesterday, sitting quietly immobilised, feeling myself somewhere else and yet profoundly present - a delightful dysphasia - slipping between many presents, many states, many bodies.....

Monday, May 14, 2007

Spring Fever and the recovering catholic

I’m sitting in my friends’ flat in tampere, shaking and sweating and extruding viscous green snot from my nose.

I’ve got the bloody flu – AGAIN.

Maybe it was running around naked in the garden between sauna and bedroom. Maybe the sauna wasn’t hot enough, maybe the sauna was too hot, maybe the airport saga stressed me out, maybe sexual frustration makes me sick, maybe I’m allergic to spring, maybe my body is really confused going through spring when it should be autumn, maybe it’s time to come home.

I’ve got 10 more days before I get on the plane back to OZ ™.

So far I’ve had a tranquil and reasonably productive time in finland. My friend heli – was frantically finishing her paintings for a show next month – while I sat in a quiet little room – fleshing out my paper for next week, working out the second half of my thesis – and realising that maybe the tome is going to come together – that the time in blighty – immersing myself in learning as much as I possibly could – actually has allowed me to resolve some really big things – and maybe I’ll find the words to justify summarising 20 books and interviewing 8 people instead of redrafting the long overdue chapter from hell to my supervisor…..

My last day in London was almost perfect. (Ok the real one, Monday – not the accidental Tuesday)

I spent the morning trudging around Westminster in the rain with a bunch of queers weilding a soggy pink banner with ‘queer rage: no borders’ painted across it.

We were meant to be part of a demo demanding citizenship rights for refugees, what the frogs call ‘sans papiers’, and kind of felt a bit out of place amongst the union jacks and other national flags of marginalised migrant workers; mostly polish or brazilian.

Actually one of the organisers came up and asked us to put aaway the banner, and we all got lost and separated and I found myself strolling amongst a bunch of Nuns. Nuns always make me nervous. It’s a strange combo of sexual fetish and deep deep subservient catholic guilt. As much as I try to focus on that nun who used to beat me and then kissed me on the mouth when I was 7; a suitable target for kinky queer detournement, I always end up thinking of those Nuns I liked and so desperately wanted to impress with my neat hair, neat knitting, neat writing, neat painting, when puberty hit. Of course I failed.

So I moved away from nuns and strolled along with union jack waving batucata playing Brazilians. It was kind of cheery in the rain. Arriving at Trafalgar square, I wandered in the rain looking for the posse and involuntarily shuddered when the MC tried to lead the crowd to sing: “all we are saying, is give us a chance’.

My shuddering provoked a 180 spiral which led me to spy the big pink banner on one of the railings. I found the posse. Drenched from marching around in the rain, and tormented by thought of missing a glimpse at GREAT ART – in exchange for standing around soggily sulking at stupid Christian racists – politely making pissweak social democratic demands for ‘naturalising’ migrants – instead of ripping bloody stupid borders down….. I excused myself from the queer posse and headed into the national gallery.

Decided to head to sainsbury wing loos – in order to cruise past the old faves…. The turner/lorraine connection. Sigh. My favourite Rubens – unfaithfully transcribed in lots of flouro pink a few years ago….. the Rembrandt room? – no, no, - I’d never leave….so I allowed myself to linger in front of the perfect alabaster buttocks of the Rokeby Venus – and contemplated that poor noble drenched suffragette who slashed them apart back in the olden days – all in the name of the beauty of womanhood – and of Emmeline Pankhurst…… As my hair slowly dried, I searched across the seamless perfection for some tiny little hint of the damage that hadn’t been concealed by the restorers. Alas. Her flesh was but a sea of alabaster seamlessness…… so I went for my piss.

Post piss – I thought I’d check out the Kossof transcriptions – and my left hand started to itch – contemplating the time Leon had spent in front of ye-olde-masters – feeling his way into pictoral space. This maybe sacrilage for an ex-NAS girl like myself to say – but I actually can’t stand the way Kossof uses paint – it’s like he’s wading through the bloody trenches – his gestures almost charicatured into constant repetitive swathes through endless beige impasto….. I really believe that drippy stuff needs to sing – and not just belt out noise like Barnesy – but float around and lilt into arabesques – and head off into high transluscent pearly colour – as well as hitting deep resonances of murk.

Hell. Not sure if the synaesthesia thing is working. I think I’d like to see some bare canvas and some carmine on Kossof – and I’d be a bit more content. Perhaps.

But the drawings of Leon – were a bit more satisfying – though I was still about edgey about his tendency to make swathe-cutting scribbles – maybe a person can take the gestural thing a bit too far?

For reassurance I decided to look at the world’s greatest cartoon – Leo da Vinci’s preparatory for the Virgin with St. Anne…… the NG has moved it from it’s shrine in the back– so hunting for it I got distracted by some titians, and some weird olde Italian paintings – including an image of the virgin mary within a vulva shaped halo… HailVaginaCunt! I think the painter of the vision of St. Gabriel was my kinda Catholic….. After I had to ask for directions…..

Entering room number 2, I turned right and then couldn’t stop smiling. Leo Da Vinci’s faces – now agedly chalked – are always quite creepy – but there’s the really nice bit where his finely modelled drapery across St. Anne’s knees open up into charcoal lines and then moving down to the toes – become clear deft strokes. No mannerism here. Just a nice intimate ease – digits doing digits with the end of a burnt stick while dreaming of the virgin mary. How deliciously catholic. I looked at those toes for quite a long time – until I got a call from a friend – who reminded me where I was meant to be… err.. shit… yeah.

Back in the blighty drizzle – the posse had dispersed and headed to some pub near Trafalgar square. Part of me wanted to head back to the NG with my sketchbook and stare and scribble for 3 hours – but then part of me couldn’t take my eyes off the nice queers filling the room. I tried to stick to a sober bubbly or two…. But it was a sodden afternoon, and I was in a warm wooden panelled pub, surrounded by sweet smiling hotties, and Guinness on tap.

Hmmm – A perfectly poured Guinness is not cold – but not tepid – and the head – forms a type of rich crème like that on a really good black expresso coffee. This was a perfect Guinness – poured by a man with teeth that could only come from England– and my epiphanous first sips were shared smiling into the eyes of the boi wunda. I spent most of the afternoon returning to this simple state of bliss. Sipping Guinness, flirting with boi-wunda and imagining the virgin mary’s toes. Soft sinking charcoal, dark notes of creamy bitter Guinness in my mouth. Sweet north English bois, with high voices and alabaster skins and clear eyes……

I wasn’t sure if it would be decently British to engage in smutty toilet sex in daylight hours – especially so close to Lord Nelson’s column – so we snogged on the stairs and eventually headed up the street laughing. We were meant to be escorting a friend to play dressups for the Diamonda galas concert that night. I was meant to be organising a posse for my last brick lane vindaloo, I was also contemplating standing outside the barbican hoping to score a ticket… what a note to end on! “give me sodomy or give me death”

So I failed to engage in any of the above – and our friend was late dressing up, and boiwunda had to get ready for work the next day – and none of us had nearly enough playthings to engage in much more than a brief foray into fabulously smutty rompings in our friend’s house... Hence the torrid texts since.

Boi wunda is not one of the hotties from the flickr pics – so friends reading this will have to imagine him for yerselves, just as I imagine and remember and wank and sigh. Back in blighty he’s not doubt seeing far more action than I am at present. I’m always amazed how in the first flush of serious lust – imagining the lust object fucking other people turns me on almost as much as imagining them fucking me – or me fucking them. At such points lust – seems to be an infinite expanding field of possibilities and connections – and now I better stop or I’ll sound like some old raver on E – but there’s a delicious side to sexual desire – a delightfully generous side to lust that does look for endless and infinite pleasure, for expansion and possibility rather than scary clingy paranoid possession.

Once the green eyed monster grips my entrails – the thought of ‘my lover’™ sprawling around with someone else makes me sick –and then I hate myself for my own jealousy – and then it’s a rapid descent into lesbian bed death. Holding, clinging, desperately grasping at someone like grains of sand in my fist – only makes them slip faster away.
So I don’t know if or when, or say it again, if, I’ll see boi-wunda ever again. I’m in that delightful state of ‘oh wow, oh no, oh well’ that I remember feeling errr… 9 fucking years ago in another European city.

Meanwhile the sheer queerness of the encounter – of being dragged around gay bars by ex-dyke pre-t bois who like playing faggot to fucked up ladies like moi – has somehow fulfilled a lot of my own kinky fantasies. I think I’ve found a happy resolution of my own queerness, and finally a place where jism-phobic str8hating cuntcraving hosebeastiness makes some sense.

Since I’ve now got cocks on the brain I’ve decided to make the symbolic order of the phallus the cornerstone of my paper for the feminist conference. I’ve going to make an analogy of Jean Baudrillard’s description of the striptease (its Chapter 4 in Symbolic Exchange and Death) and the life class. OK – that’s not that exciting – but If I construct the life class – as an enactment of the symbolic order based around a desire of all participants to embody the phallus then I’ll explore the microdynamics of how this is constantly (dis)rupted by the sheer difficulty of reducing a strange fleshy uncoordinated insecure ambiguous body into the performance of singular cyclopean mastery.

My idea – hell - my belief – my existential credo even – is that it is in these moments of the ‘almost’ – the points of inadequacy – of failure – not quite failure – but that strange special moment where impossible hopes meet with the incredibly surprising possibilities of what our bodies can actually produce or perform or do – which is never what we expect. So for me in art – its about fudging marks – funny odd akwardness – it’s about Bryson’s idea of the glance –not being an obviously subversive counter to the gaze – but a series of odd little skirting glimpses that allow us to glimpse something else in the corner – that can take us somewhere else. In sex – it’s my new friend’s absent cock – constantly teasing and expanding in increasingly smutty texts between us – that themselves form another trajectory of desire and becoming.

I hope this is worthy of Liz Grosz – whose going to be at the conference (it’s going to be a panty wetting weekend in Turku). The last time I saw her - I’d dragged along the consort –who then made a verbal comment comparing her ideas on art, vibration, chaos and becoming … to wine tasting. I nearly sunk through the floor and felt nauseous for hours afterwards. Ha-ha my life is fallibly nuts.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Last Day in London - kinda

I've already writtine this in ten emails

I am actually sitting in an internet cafe now -tapping away my last few hours in london.

Yesterday I headed off at 2pm - to make a 6pm flight - and arrived at standstead airport just after 5.30pm- when the chekc in counter had shut.

I rand around begged, pleaded - persuaded and made it through - racing through security and the shopping mall and legions of bewildered trolley wielding duty free shoppers and onto my flight - into my seat -and realised that I'd left my laptop back at security.

apnnicked, freaked - begged my way off the flight - and get my backpack off the plane - and went back - and thankfully managed to get someone to find it.... somewhere in limbo land between secuirty gate and lost property.

then wandered backwards through the terminal and out the font end - rebooked a flgiht and discovered that the airport is 45 minutes away from where I was staying in london -by train.


so I'll try again in an hour - and enjoy stnadstead airport....

I need to do a long posting about my 'real' last day in london - whihc was brilliant - and involved a sodden rally, an epiphanous drying out in the naitonal gallery, and a delightfully epiphanous guinness and flirty naughty afternoon...


Saturday, May 05, 2007

Joys of blighty

I just did a BIG ART RANT - on the art blog

and can't be bothered writing more.

Have I written about the joys of my hosts flatmate - who practices opera during the day at home? she only does trouser roles... (operatic drag kings... how damn cool)