Thursday, 13 November 2008

Two Women

In another of Meireles’ installations I was leaning across a farm gate, looking through a metal grille, which was apparently attached to a plastic shower curtain just to the left, at a large oblong tank of water containing fish whose transparent flesh left their skeletons revealed, and who in their obliging movements composed themselves as a dynamic diagram in flesh of the suspended fences, meshes and windows that surrounded them. They offered biological proof, an inverted evolutionary recapitulation of the interdependence between the defensive mode of disappearance, and the tender unselfconsciousness of the unwittingly revealed; in hiding their flesh they disclosed the fragility of their bones. Through this figurative allusion the entire collection of permeable barriers –all of which are so familiar to us- acquired the characteristics of artifacts, the expansive quality of objects from which we can inductively touch a universal instinct. The people in the work were walking on shattered glass that crunched under their feet, and they, we, were staring -half in confusion half in pleasure- at the anthropological residue of our innately human and biological drive to materially conceal and divide; but at the same time, through the fish, the floor, the dispensation of planes and transparency and blue-ish light, Meireles shifts the focus from the explicit motivation of defense and abnegation of contact to its usually unnoticed corollary; that is the heightening of the potency of visibility; the increase in value of permeability; the ramping up of diverging instincts encompassed in artifacts that are the manifestations of this tension. Each artifact of separation, each item of division exaggerates the pleasure of seeing through, of the denouement of space; and just as I was perched on the gate, looking through the installation at the skeletal fish, I was submerged, inundated by the words of one woman to another. They had both slipped out from behind the shower curtain, and -as they both looked back to where my over-avid gaze was directed- one exclaimed “Oh look, I love that! I do love water features. You know how I love my water features… that’s just lovely, isn’t it?!”. I love them too, and yes, it was.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

The Lasciviousness of Delivery: Extracts from J. Lichtenstein's "The Eloquence of Colour" #1

These are yummy morsels from PartI of Jacqueline Lichtenstein's meticulous exploration of the history of the French Enlightenment's liberation of Colour from its tangle of externally mis-applied classifications. #2 here...

For colour is the material in , or rather of, painting, the irreducible component of representation that escapes the hegemony of language, the pure expressivity of a silent visibility that constitutes the image as such

The true fine wit praised by Ariste: judicious and delicate reasoning. And this delicacy of wit is expressed in a very particular kind of knowledge that spans knowing, sensing and seeing. Neither a concept nor an affect, not a perception, and yet all of these at once, it is a certainty felt but not demonstrable, an obviousness accompanied by no proof. It is a knowledge that depends on eyesight and manifests as a feeling, that senses the vantage point for accurate perception. This delicacy of wit that infallibly places an individual at the right distance from the object of contemplation –neither too close nor too far away- has all the characteristics of visual judgment.

Intuition is the capacity to discern the infinitesimal differences existing between things that are apparently confused in nature, realities indiscernible to mathematical minds seeking clear, obvious and palpable principles.

Moral puritanism and aesthetic austerity, along with resentment and old, stubborn, and underhanded desire to equate drabness with beauty, thus make their righteous alliance and take delight in a constantly reiterated certainty: only what is insipid, odorless, and colourless may be said to be true, beautiful and good.

[Painting] does not present us with an illusory appearance but with the illusion of an appearance whose very substance is cosmetic. Unlike other forms of adornment, this one does not exceed reality by adding ornaments that mask its nature: it takes its place by offering an image whose nature is entirely exhausted in its appearance, a universe that is the pure illusory effect of an artifice.
In denaturalizing appearance, painting thus realizes the essence of ornament that consists in being without essence. It is like an adornment from which nature is absent, makeup whose colouring does not merely correct the faults of a face but invents its features and gives it a form, a garment that cannot be taken off without pulling off the skin, an originative metaphor.

Cicero repeats time and again: eloquence is not born of rhetoric but the other way around. True rhetoric does not come from wordmongers who put together treatises for those who naively believe that technique alone will allow them to speak with eloquence. It comes from orators who most often write down their speeches only after delivering them.

If the charms of enunciation are the marks of the rhetorical and thus deceptive character of an individual’s words, the absence of charm becomes the indubitable sign of truth. To the sophists’ seductive persons and sparkling words, philosophers must then oppose an expression whose dreary pride and tedium present themselves as signs of the highest wisdom, and speeches whose repellent form lays claim to unfathomable depth.
Defined differentially, rhetoricians and philosophers are compelled to take on the negative attributes that each assigns to the other. The characterization strips rhetoric of all legitimacy and abandons it to the reprehensible pleasure of a seduction, condemning its effectiveness while recognizing its force. As for philosophy, the definition affords it an indisputable eminence and at the same time deprives it of any power, drawing truth as the unpleasant and unseductive image of a pale and dull negation of pleasure. Placed by Plato within a single frame in a scene where they respond to each other as complementary figures, rhetoric and philosophy take up their positions at the poles of ever-deceptive pleasure and necessarily bleak knowledge.

The choice and frequent use of such metaphors and comparisons, which define beauty essentially from the viewpoint of health, show the extent to which most aesthetic judgments are determined by moral evaluations, that is, based on criteria borrowed from nature, not art. The most striking evidence of this overlap of moral and aesthetic values comes from the way in which the various figures of femininity –chaste or indecent, virtuous or corrupt- constantly offer up metaphors for the faults and qualities of eloquence.

Forced to balance precariously between pleasure and reason, rhetoric has always found itself trapped between an ornamentation whose brilliance is suspected of lending discourse a purely sophistic seductiveness and an austere philosophy whose somber gleam threatens to deprive rhetoric of the means necessary to assure its effectiveness.

The courtesan and the prostitute always appear as emblematic figures of the culpable temptation of a pure pleasure to which art, when unable to save itself from the dangers of its own power, succumbs.

The traditional place of the image necessarily affects our perception of its power. Its legitimacy is still in doubt though its importance is not. To rid ourselves of such a contradiction we would need to abandon traditional hierarchies and reach a complete reevaluation that allowed a relation between the visible and discourse in terms of complementarity and not subordination. All these relations weave into the weft of their history image and language as complementary figures that an archaic gesture has torn apart. More than rival sisters, they resemble separated lovers haunted by a desire for the unity of an origin perhaps forever lost, each seeking in the figure of the other the missing part of the self. As if this other’s absence were the heart of all representation.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Cildo Meireles Exhibition

A series of lines on millimeter graph paper that is slightly off white and grubby, aged and used, bearing the effort expended on it in graphite bruises; lines that are separated into the three which extend out to the edges of the paper, which pull in three directions away from the ageing surface; and the others, poised in the space marked out for them by the three like a startled nocturnal animal, stand together with a fragile unity which threatens to collapse under the gaze, a unity which coheres into objecthood out of the corner of the eye, but which is demure and unsure of itself under direct observation, ready at any moment to dissolve back into the mathematics of two dimensions. This first small impression was repeated along the wall of the first room in the exhibition as a series of searches, as an attempt to adumbrate an ineffability hidden between the grid and surface of these sheets of paper, the denuding spotlight of the axes x y and z, and the incredulous eye of the observer. Like a row of unfamiliar taxidermic specimens frozen in glass cases, the exposed lines in each display were either huddled, slumped or erect, individually summarizing a possible characteristic of this postulated ineffability, and together laying out its contour. The attempt seems absurd, the medium unforgiving. He is trying to find something within the framework of geometrical axioms that is different in kind and not just degree; he is trying to find meaning in the brutality of facts; he is trying to find sensitivity in the insensible and he does it with an essential earnestness which is disarming. These searches consist of so few lines that they bring to mind the first attempts of a schoolchild at drawing in “space”, and it is precisely this innocence that disarms; it seems as though Meireles has had Euclid’s system explained to him by his teacher, taught to him as a hermetic and preordained reality external to his existence, and whereas the other students picked up their pencils to draw cubes and planes, Meireles stared at the page, troubled. How could this be called space? It all existed before him, before any of them, it allowed for nothing which was not inherent in its logic, nothing which was not a predictable output of a limited set of factors; it was a frozen solid, impenetrable and the precise opposite of what his senses told him was space. There was no room for anything but itself. Forced to participate in the class, forced to accept the axioms and inscribe points and lines in the solid space of reason, he nonetheless looks for some room, for a place where something unexpected might occur, something not entirely predictable and wholly inherent in the system: and so we are gifted these half-formed creatures, the embryos of a poetic instinct struggling to be born, trying to find room for itself in a grid of answers. Meireles continues this search on other pieces of the same type of paper, but swaps the axes for a floor, two walls and wainscoting; and by doing this -with the use of some colour pencils- transforms the specific potential for entombment embodied in Euclid’s geometry into a generalised scenario of existential enquiry. The questions began to form themselves in the clarity of the classroom, where the subject found its object and injected itself into it, producing results which now spill into the everyday, which escape from the nowhere of Euclid to the ubiquitous somewhere of the corner of a room. By substituting the axes for walls Meireles transfers his search within the structure of 3dimensional space into a search within the structure of habit; into the earnest and childlike efforts of someone who sees and will not accept the solid impenetrability of the quotidian, just as he couldn’t that of geometry. The meager resources of the point and line left Meireles with only enough material to form unstable speculations; here he is digging through a postulate necessary to the space of our habits -that rooms have corners, and corners are corners- and finds rich material resonant with familiarity and association through which he fashions remarkably comprehensible and lucid results. The walls, the floors, the wainscotting fold, gently lean or suddenly fall away at an angle, each time vividly encompassing the potential for a moment of respite, a touch of interpretation, an infiltration of the banal with the ineffable. By the last of these pages, by the time you turn around to look at the one-to-one installation in which four of these have been materialised as testaments to a sort of unflinching positivity, an indefatigable resolution to interbreed incompatibilities; by the time you walk around them Meireles has primed you, sensitized you through a set of small drawings for the breathtaking series of shared contemplations which thankfully, for once, take you far away from the unbearable Euclidean vapidness of the Tate Modern.

Cildo Meireles:
“In some way you become political when you don’t have a chance to be poetic. I think human beings would much prefer to be poetic.”
This is what separates so many artists and poets from those that write about them.

In all the works on display Meireles finds ways of opening up possibilities, unseen potentials, he brings questions to light, he flicks the surface of normality and makes it undulate strangely; and in all of the works except Mission/Missions (How to build a Cathedral) he brings things to our attention by taking away from them some of their usual clarity, and by doing this opens up room to move and think in. Which is why when I read this part of Isaiah Berlin’s “Final Retrospect”, I felt compelled to include it, as it seemed to maintain, although far apart, at least a parallel trajectory to Meireles’ work.

Isaiah Berlin
Extract from “Final Retrospect”
“Since the natural sciences are perhaps the greatest success story in the whole history of mankind, it seems absurd to suppose that man alone is not subject to the natural laws discovered by the scientists, (That, indeed, is what the eighteenth century philosophes maintained). The question is not, of course, whether man is wholly free of such laws –no one but a madman could maintain that man does not depend on his biological or psychological structure or environment, or on the laws of nature. The only question is: Is his liberty totally exhausted thereby? Is there not some corner in which he can act as he chooses, and not be determined to choose by antecedent causes? This may be a tiny corner of the realm of nature, but unless it is there, his consciousness of being free, which is undoubtedly all but universal –the fact that most people believe that, while some of their actions are mechanical, some obey their free will– is an enormous illusion, from the beginnings of mankind , ever since Adam ate the apple, although told not to do so, and did not reply, ‘I could not help it, I did not do it freely, Eve forced me to do it.’”

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Hare Krishna

I noticed a lady. She was wrapped in so many bulbous crumples and twists of fiery-coloured fabric that it seemed as if what could be seen of her body was being held up by its overabundant density, that the almost equally creased protrusions of her hands, feet and face were where all the reds and browns and purples and golds folded into each other, to become a deep and warm shade which contained all of the rainbow surrounding it in dense creases; lines of skin that were more like billows of dyed fabric compressed together under some titanic force, and granted life and expression as if this were an oriental Golem, formed of the luxuriance of colour and pattern rather than the penury of the earth. Looking back, I think I had seen her before -perhaps many times- but there had never been reason for her to be separated from the street, to be given a form and pulled out from the bas-relief which froze either side of that road into an unquestioning, unproblematic and mutely comforting doorstep to my Soho. I must have glanced at her for longer than is considered a glance, and a small wrinkled hand emerged from within, borne by a bright yellow variant of material, generally concealed perhaps in order to celebrate with its appearance any willed engagement with the world outside her folds. There was a book in the hand, she might have been smiling, and as the hand rose it followed me, I think with her face as well, around their soft supporting pillar. I noticed that the book was one of those offered for free by the Hare Krishnas, of which she was one, outside of whose little muffled restaurant she stood, and I looked away from her, speeding up with agitation and feeling compromised; in the slight extension of a glance, in a handful of steps, an isthmus had momentarily risen above the waves of habit to connect me with a precious atom of strangeness, and even before I could savor it I was rudely robbed of its charm by a little book that brought both me and the lady offering it back to the banal and tense reality of the city’s hassled and its hasslers. She hadn’t come up to me -like those violent teenagers decorated in symbols of incommensurably sincere charity- and shattered the penumbra around my privacy with the brutality of feigned conversation, in fact I don’t believe she had even looked at me; but I felt that her poetry, her mystique had been nothing more than a silent version of such intrusive conversation, an entreaty in colour, that her verbose body of clothing was intended for passers-by as an orchid uses its luminous veins to call in insects. I began relegating her to the category of urban nuisances, to the same universal space occupied by charity-touts, free-newspaper purveyors, proselytizers and survey-workers; and she would have disappeared into that general abstraction forever -along with the Krishnas- if she hadn’t broken the silence, hadn’t called gently out to someone who I had not been in a decade. Ten years ago I had been atomized through the mechanisms of puberty, and whereas that which is supposed to comprise one’s character –the set of notions and values that govern behaviour- was for me just a gas, exterior to my body and susceptible to any noxious breeze that came its way; my body however -although it had changed unalterably a few years before- was relatively stable, and became the image in the mirror to which I clung while my immaterial properties remained protean; which was why I was so deeply affected every time I was mistaken for a girl, which happened frequently. The validity of my reference was undermined: if people couldn’t even manage to grasp to which fundamental human binary my body belonged, was it perhaps not less fixed than I had wanted it to be? Every time I was referred to as a girl, as madam, as “your daughter, sir”, the effort required to reclaim my body, to convince myself of its solidity once again was minutely heroic. I had forgotten that this used to happen, and as I was moving away from the lady and I heard her call “Madam”, I was stopped by one of those shifts in perception which crack open the container in which we have sealed the impressions of a particular period in our past; the cacophonic rush drowned out the dominance of my present self, it filled me with imprecise feelings of anger, confusion and freshness which were less real emotions than treasured belongings to which feelings had been attached, and which I had lost and forgotten about. I didn’t immediately understand what had been given to me by the Hare Krishna, all these treasures had fallen on me from a great height, and I was immobilised under their weight; all I could do was to turn around and walk back to her, ask what she had said, be confirmed in what I had heard and stumble off. Across Oxford Street, step by step, the glittering presents she had presented me with from within my own past began to reveal themselves, one by one; the deafening noise in turn softened, fell apart, and pulled itself back together again to gently sing some sort of internal lullaby. It had all been packed up and locked away for a reason, all these feelings had been difficult to manage when they were new; but now I was glad that they had been given back to me, that after time had turned them into relics to contemplate rather than obstacles to be overcome, this magical woman had found the one word which could penetrate through the clotted indifferences of my mind. As I turned these objects over in the intuitive gaze of the daydream, I couldn’t help but feel as if something childishly superstitious had come-true, that the woman was some sort of witch, that she knew what would entail from her utterance and had purposely transformed me, that despite my copious, disorderly and impossible to miss smear of facial hair, she had projected the word regardless of my sex because her intention was to bring about the effect in which I am still reveling. It is just a fancy which I know to be beyond possibility, but despite its impossibility, the small section of street where the real and the fanciful occurred has since stood out in abundant relief, has retained the colour of the incident, or rather the existing place and its colours have come alive with the shape of the incident. I don’t know what Hare Krishnas do, what they believe in or their history; what I do know is that their sad smiles, the pale pastels which make it look as if their walls, food, clothes and face-paint together constitute a unified figure, the tired struggle of their chanting that emanates everyday from a window somewhere above their restaurant, and which occasionally expands and alters Oxford Street with its presence; all these things that I do now know, since I have started looking, since one of them called to me as if I were not a man; all these things have stained the pallid relief that had been Soho Street like paint stains a canvas, forever turning its bare surfaces, walls and glass from mere unobtrusive material into a transparent display of life.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Relative Strength, Extract from 'Two Concepts of Liberty'

The very desire for guarantees that our values are eternal and secure in some objective heaven is perhaps only a craving for the certainties of childhood or the absolute values of our primitive past. ‘To realize the relative validity of one’s convictions’, said an admirable writer of our time, ‘and yet stand for them unflinchingly is what distinguishes a civilized man from a barbarian.’

Monday, 3 November 2008

Extracts from "Tristes Tropiques"

To me it’s like Levi-Strauss is analogizing the impression that this book leaves you with when he is describing the principle of sunsets:

“Memory is life itself, but of a different quality. And so, it is when the sun declines towards the polished surface of calm water, like alms bestowed by some heavenly miser, or when its disc outlines mountain summits like a hard, jagged leaf, that man is eminently able to receive, in a short lived daydream, the revelation of the opaque forces, the mists and flashing lights that throughout the day he has dimly felt to be at war within himself”

P29 Tristes Tropiques
Now that the Polynesian Islands have been smothered in concrete and turned into aircraft carriers solidly anchored in the southern seas, when the whole of Asia is beginning to look like a dingy suburb, when shanty-towns are spreading across Africa, when civil and military aircraft blight the primeval innocence of the American or Melanesian forests even before destroying their virginity, what else can the so-called escapism of traveling do than confront us with the more unfortunate aspects of our history? Our great Western civilization, which has created the marvels we now enjoy, has only succeeded in producing them at the cost of corresponding ills. The order and harmony of the Western world, its most famous achievement, and a laboratory in which structures of a complexity as yet unknown are being fashioned, demand the elimination of a prodigious mass of noxious by-products which now contaminate the globe. The first thing we see as we travel round the world is our own filth, thrown into the face of mankind.

P101 Tristes Tropiques
Certain European cities sink gently into moribund torpor; those of the New World live feverishly in the grip of a chronic disease; they are perpetually young yet never healthy.

P133 Tristes Tropiques
The town is perhaps even more precious than a work of art in that it stands at the meeting point of nature and artifice. Consisting, as it does, of a community of animals who enclose their biological history within its boundaries and at the same time mould it according to their every intention as thinking beings, the town, in both its development and its form, belongs simultaneously to biological procreation, organic evolution and aesthetic creation. It is at one and the same time an object of nature and a subject of culture; an individual and a group; reality and dream; the supremely human achievement.

P505-507 Tristes Tropiques
The world began without man and will end without him. The institutions, morals and customs tat I shall have spent my life noting down and trying to understand are the transient efflorescence of a creation in relation to which they have no meaning, except perhaps that of allowing mankind to play its part in creation. But far from this part according man an independent position, or his endeavors –even if doomed to failure- being opposed to universal decline, he himself appears as perhaps the most affective agent working towards the disintegration of the original order of things and hurrying on powerfully organized matter towards even greater inertia, an inertia which one day will be final. From the time when he first began to breathe and eat, up to the invention of atomic and thermonuclear devices, by way of the discovery of fire –and except when he as been engaged in self-reproduction- what else has man done except blithely break down billions of structures and reduce them to a state in which they are no longer capable of integration? No doubt he has built towns and cultivated the land; yet, on reflection, urbanization and agriculture are themselves instruments intended to create inertia, at a rate and in a proportion infinitely higher than the amount of organization they involve. As for the creations of the human mind, their significance only exists in relation to it, and they will merge into the general chaos, as soon as the human mind has disappeared. Thus it is tat civilization, taken as a whole, can be described as an extraordinarily complex mechanism, which we might be tempted to see as offering an opportunity of survival for the human world, if its function were not to produce what physicists call entropy, that is inertia. Every verbal exchange, every line printed, establishes communication between people, this creating an evenness of level, where before there was an information gap and consequently a greater degree of organization. Anthropology could with advantage be changed into ‘enropology’, as the name of the discipline concerned with the study of the highest manifestations of this process of disintegration.
Just as the individual is not alone in the group, nor any one society alone among the others, so man is not alone in the universe. When the spectrum or rainbow of human cultures has finally sunk into the void created by our frenzy; as long as we continue to exist an there is a world, that tenuous arch linking us to the inaccessible will still remain, to show us the opposite course to that leading to enslavement; man may be unable to follow it, but its contemplation affords him the only privilege of which he can make himself worthy; that of arresting the process, of controlling the impulse which forces him to block up the cracks in the wall of necessity one by one and to complete his work at the same time as he shuts himself up within his prison; this is a privilege coveted by every society, whatever its beliefs, its political system or its level of civilization; a privilege to which it attaches its leisure, its pleasure, its peace of mind and its freedom; the possibility, vital for life, of unhitching, which consists –Oh! Fond farewell to savages and explorations!- in grasping, during the brief intervals in which our species can bring itself to interrupt its hive-like activity, the essence of what it was and continues to be, below the threshold of thought and over and above society: in the contemplation of a mineral more beautiful than all our creations; in the scent that can be smelt at the heart of a lily and is more imbued with learning than all our books; or in the brief glance, heavy with patience, serenity and mutual forgiveness, that, through some involuntary understanding, one can sometimes exchange with a cat.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Bye Bye Exhibitions!

Both the Summer School and the honours exhibition needed to be taken down on Friday, something that required a lot of wrapping, ripping, shuffling and general noise making, which wasn’t initially a problem in the exhibition space since it had been sealed of from the rest of the building in order that the work could be carried out. People had been in there since I first arrived with Bianca, but they were just lone opportunists making the most of a little free space, listening to music or engaged in intent examinations of lots of nothings somewhere just in front of their faces. These were people who were aware of there being, while maybe not quite a level of illegitimacy to their presence, at least a balance in the room between our rightful presence (institutionally backed by a printed notice on the exterior of the room’s door no less!), and their illicit occupancy; they feigned obliviousness to our stomping and banging, while we marched around them like they were so many pieces of furniture which somehow belonged to the room itself. We were all complicit and harmoniously conspiratorial in the way we ignored each other. But at some point, I think during a particularly complicated procedure of mummifying one of my models, the situation had changed, and remained changed until I gladly stepped out of the building.
I don’t know if the previous occupants of the room had spontaneously, in response to some silent command congealed into a huddled unit of humanity, or whether this entity made of people had invaded while I was pondering some bubble-wrap, ejecting all people not-of-itself in order to brood in isolation; either way the cordial human furniture was no more. Nestled in the centre of a bed of jackets and faces was one voice to which all ears were listening intently, a quiet voice which I hadn’t noticed until looking up, but once noticed became an audible shackle which chained all of our movements. They were there to listen, they were numerous and with a shared objective clearly revealed by their intently furrowed brows, they were there to do something which by its very nature transformed us into antagonistic outsiders: we were busy about the noisy business of laying models, drawings and books to rest in suitably fitting caskets, they were there –judging by the dark seriousness uniformly shadowing the group- to absorb some solemn decree, some weighty judgement delivered in diminutive tones.
The quietness of the speech across the room made each one of our movements into self-lacerations, into captive actions, trapped by their loudness into unavoidably offending the entity’s sobriety. Where before all our thought had been on how best to pack and enclose, stack and tie, now each thought was burdened with another, with the extra consideration of how to pack and enclose –but quietly, and of how to stack and tie –but quietly; every one of these actions was painful because no matter how much thought we put into keeping them quiet they were always louder than the voice, always interruptions in its reverie. Every tug on the role of masking-tape, every rip in the sheet of bubble-wrap hurt us because we couldn’t make it disappear, and our isolated self-awareness was repeatedly re-affirmed exterior to our embarrassment by one or more of the pallid faces turning towards us in silent reproach, confirming that they wanted as we did for us to disappear. Each time I escaped for a moment from being the object of disapproval by doing something silent like measuring a box, I would be filled with the desire to be indignant, to remember that they were usurpers, to keep in my mind that they were not meant to be in the room at all, let alone filling it with their arbitrarily assumed mandate. I would turn to pull something apart, or slide something along the floor with all the self assertive theatricality of someone who is over compensating for severe shyness; but each time, just as I began to produce some sound, I became once again all too aware of the aggression that my sounds perpetrated against the subdued lecturer, and the unnerving eyes that would pivot to rest judgingly on the source of the disturbance.
My attempts at revolt having failed, I fell back on a tactic of conciliatory mime, in that as I clearly couldn’t be as quiet as to not disturb, I would enact comically inflated gestures of apology: when unrolling tape I would compress my facial features into a histrionic wince for the duration of the action, when carrying a big box out the door, I would unnecessarily balance it on one raised thigh while acrobatically closing the door with the opposite arm, performing what I was hoping looked like a remarkable human cantilever, with the ostensible purpose of keeping the noise pollution from outside away from the engrossed congregation. These mimes, although they were empty of real effect, although they didn’t help the voice to be heard any better, soothed my nerves because for me they acted as signs, as transparent symbols of a clear desire to be unobtrusive. By manufacturing the outward appearance of trying very hard to be compliant, I negated the need to try so hard to actually be totally quiet, while simultaneously clearing my conscience of the best part of its awkward guilt. In this manner we finished mummifying my work in bubble-wrap, and encasing it all in card-board coffins, which some later version of me will no doubt open up in some future attic to nostalgic and tear-ridden recollection.