Blackbird

2015-11-27

I have walked all over this island, strolled, wandered, sauntered, explored its hills and valleys, woods and pastures. It is not a very big island and most of it is tamed into a park. There are small pockets of near wilderness. Leftovers that are to troublesome for the everyday city people to reach and to awkward for the park management to cultivate. Some of these are, or used to be, free zones for gay boys inclined towards bodily adventures among rattling leaves. Others exhibit installations of cans and bottles. In summertime a green shrubbery filled with birds and a steep hillside together make a hidden land for one or two of those without a home that there build shelter of tarpaulins and plastic sheets. A broken mirror hanging from a branch. A chair with three legs leaning on a mossy stone. A ring of stones around ashes. A temporary land. But most of the Island is well kept. To well even and now days I seldom take my walks here since it has to me become to familiar.

But today I have no wish to take a long walk, explore or get away. My studio just feels dusty and enclosed. Two newly made paintings stare at me. I stare back. Stare at their flaws. Stare at my own flaws. Stare at the filter I lay over the things I have made. My fingers twitch in their will to do something drastic; tear that veil into pieces, make a Fontana cut through to the other side, whatever that might be. I try to focus on the bits and pieces I am pleased with. Try to pat myself on the shoulder. Hang the pictures in my room nicely as if they were good and ready. Sign them and sigh.

paint s

Arrange my colours and brushes in a circular pattern on the table. Put on some soothing music. Make a new, white, big paper ready to be smeared with my attempts. Anything can happened there, a wondrous new world can emerge, a tricky way for the mind to make somersaults over enclosures, beautiful licking on the subconscious, straight on roaring clarity, sniffling personal poking or all-embracing revelations. That is what I tell myself, but the paper in front of me stubbornly replies that it is merely a blank piece of matter and refuses to promise anything or let itself be more than itself. “- Ok. You stay white and proud, flat and one-dimensional. I am out of here. Ashole! ”, I say out loud before I stumble down the stairs, grab my big winter-fur; hide inside it and walk out.

That white paper has blinded me, sent my eyes looking inwards instead of outwards. It is the automatic surround scanner and body memory that keep me from walking into trees or falling into the water. It is not a specific line of thought that keeps me occupied but more of a viscous, gluey mass making no room for clear light or open mindly vision. A shrubbery of autumn wet and black poky sticking dead branches. Brown slow mud on the ground and an evenly stubborn grey sky that has stopped breathing above.

I stop. My unfocused walking has left me at that spot where there was a homeless camping last summer. Only an empty trampled circle is left. Nothing left but a broken bottle and the burnt spot where the fireplace used to be. I look around hoping to find something, what I do not know, but something. I kick around in the brown leaves under the bushes that enclose the opening but find nothing. The stone that acted as leg number four for the vanished chair has evolved. It is now in itself the place to sit on and I stop kicking around, sit down and stare straight into the bushes without seeing. I sit there, making a tunnel in the air in front of me with my eyes, for I don´t know how long. Far away the constant mumbling of city sounds. No wind in the branches. No birds in the bushes. I takes a long time before I realize that I am staring straight into an actual little tunnel in front of me. There is an opening between the cliff side and the bushes. A dark nearly perfectly round hole big enough for a small child to walk straight into, or a grown man to hunch down and wiggle in through. I imagine it is the path for some animal. Maybe it is the island fox my neighbour told me about that uses it. Its lair could be somewhere in there, in the brushwood. I bend down and look in more because my bottom is getting cold from sitting at the stone and I need to move than because I really think I might see anything interesting.

leaves s

The tunnel is only small at the opening, gets bigger inside. It is a path following the side of the cliff which leans outward and here creates a nearly perfect half arch continued by the half arch of the bushes on the other side. The leaves that make a brown soft carpet on the ground are left dry and protected. As I look in there is a sudden glimpse of sunshine is making the tunnel glow, asking me if I want to enter.

As I rise after having hunched through the opening I am met by a blackbird staring at me. It is standing in the branch flickered sunlight in the middle of the arched tunnel, head tilted. As I walk towards it it jumps from one sunny leave to the next further into the tunnel, each jump making a rustling sound in the otherwise silent still air. I follow slowly, careful steps attempting not to scare it away. Now and then it stops and look at me, as if on its guard or as if checking if I am coming with.

The tunnel is about six meters long straight and then makes a turn around a corner of the cliff around which the blackbird disappears. As I follow I see the tunnel end in a sunlit little opening. There, on the three legged chair, leaning backwards, back against the cliff is Prom sitting. It looks warm, he has taken off his jacket and his T-shirt is blinding white in the sun. He holds his hand out and the blackbird sitting there is a contrasting black hole in the middle of the picture. The birds yellow beak and Proms fire mask/helmet are blazingly sharp colours in a surrounding otherwise as devote of all colours as an old sepia photo. This is a small space between the back of an old wooden shed that the boat club use and the cliff, surrounded by a shrubbery so dense I can’t see out.

The blackbird looks at me for a moment and then takes off. Prom slowly lowers his outstretched finger as he says: “- Hallo Rikard. Come sit in the sun with me for a while!”. There is a chair wooden chair, with all of its legs intact, leaning against the shed. I take it and place it next to Prom in the sun. It is surprisingly warm and I too have to take off my winterjacket. Prom is quiet, just leaning backwards, balancing his three legged chair on the two intact back legs. I to lean my back to the warm cliff behind. We stay quiet. I close my eyes and watch the light go red through my eyelids. Side by side we sit in the sun for a long time. When I open my eyes Prom picks up a bottle filled with bright yellow liquid from a pocket in his jacket hangong over the back of his chair. “- Lemonade?”, he asks, picking up two little glasses and two drinking straws from another pocket. I then realize I actually am very thirsty. It is much warmer here than it ought to be this time of year, must be some kind of little micro-climate-zone in this little place protected all around, sun reflecting on the cliff. Satisfied by the sweet drink I lean backwards again, as does Prom. The warm sun makes me drowsy and I am on the verge of falling asleep when I hear the faint sound of leaves moving. When I open my eyes I see that it is the Blackbird jumping from leave to leave in the tunnel again. Prom has stood up and is watching too. The bird jumps further in and around the corner of the cliff. Prom looks at me waves a little wave. I wave back. Then he enter the tunnel as if to follow the bird. I am left alone, and it doesn’t feel odd at all. First I think that he soon will come back but then, as the time moves on, realize that he probably will not. The sun is still shining and this is a nice place, but without Prom there I feel less content, to lonely and I stand up to look around a bit closer. The place is totally surrounded. The only way to get there without a machete or climbing ropes down the side of the cliff is the way I got there, through the natural tunnel. There is nothing there but the two chairs, leaves and some sticks on the ground. The wall of the shed opposing the cliff-side is a flat wood plank without windows about two and a half meter high. I look up at the sky that is clear blue before I decide to leave to.

As I come out at the other end of the tunnel a raindrop falls on my face. When I look up at the sky I see a large black cloud rolling up covering the sun. The first drop of rain is followed by more. A sudden gust of wind shakes the tree and rips off some of the few leaves still clinging to its branches. They swirl through the air and I hurry away to get home before the rain really sets in. As I get there the wind has picked up considerably and there is leaves flying around all around me like little crazy autumn butterflies in an evil rain dance. They are mercilessly struck to the ground when the rain breaks loose. I just make it to the house.

When I make a fire in the iron stove I hear the wind howling in the chimney. That I was sitting in the sun with Prom just a quarter of an hour ago, warm and without a jacket on, with bare arms. Well, it seems dreamlike and nearly surreal.

On my table is the big empty paper. A picture is invisibly settling there. Don’t know if it is good, bad or even where it came from or where it is going. But there it is, and unless I have anything more important to do I might as well make it less invisible.

Advertisements

Decoded Echo

2015-11-13

trampled

Counting receipts from Germany. The costs of exhibiting. Going over the past events in my head as the little crumbled pieces of paper evidence find their ways into a pile. The internal and external costs of artisthood. It does not matter what big and glorious events that might the result of these days, weeks, months, years of preparation and creating. The days after an exhibition is a backwater. I imagine that the experience is shared with other professions. The mountaineer who made it to the summit, when back home looking back at his achievement, dustballs in the corners of his home lazily resting, his neighbor greeting him back home with petty talk about the weeds in his garden (and then: -Oh. that´s right. You’ve been away. The Alps was it? Any good skiing? ), writing in the papers about latest political slip of the tongue or what the princess have said to the prince on a charity dinner. Makes the new personal historical moment become just that: something passed and distant, an old friend that has left with a hug, smile and a promise to stay in touch, write a letter, come by if he has the opportunity. Both of you knowing that your paths are going different directions. Both knowing that if you meet again it will be on a different path.

And what is it then that I want? What did I expect? The show was, if not a success at least appreciated. An article in one of the biggest German papers saying good things, positive response. Nice people saying nice things that I did nice things with. Difficulties? Yes of course, but not any unexpected disasters. Those I reserve for my nightly dreams now when I am back: dreams of getting lost, “not having enough on my feet” (lost shoes in a wintery landscape), exhibition deadlines in major galleries impossible to meet, huge ugly paintings falling apart in front of my eyes, skiing in large systems where the snow is melting away and I cant find the right lift bringing me back to the summit or home. To symbolical mumblings from my subconscious making my morning coffee sour.

Maybe I am obsessed with disaster. In that case I am not alone: papers full of the groaning and crumbling of the worlds latest twitches under a weight repeatedly expressed in incomprehensibly large numbers. TV-series as well as art given “depth, feeling, complexity, justification” by itching the fears smeared in puss. Happiness, freedom and peace looked upon as lame political slogans or feeble religious stupidity.

And what do I do? Count receipts. Behind me on the table a newly finished painting depicting a cleaner on a ladder brushing the dust of a mushroom cloud. So. I am the result of my time? Trapped in some kind of unreflected belief that putting the ugly on paper is worth, worthy, righteous and proof of a mind not limited by blinders.

mushroomcloud s

Oh my God! What a pathetic whining.

In fact here is music playing in my room. A cozy fire sparkling in the fireplace. People downstairs making cinnamon buns filling the air with a wonderful mouth watering smell. Enough money on my account to make me temporarily relaxed. A happy cat sleeping on a colorful pillow. No major troubles blocking my near future. Time to think and reflect.

I look out the window at the barren autumn trees. Last yellow leaves clinging to black branches. Ground beneath covered covered with gold just on the verge of turning brown. The last flame of autumn. Soon there will be but ashes left of that color explosion drenched by cold rain and the wet sludge of first snow. Even if it is nice and cozy in here it tends to be a bit to much: warmth and baking vapors dulling my brain with its cotton smooth softness.

It is time to take out the winter fur from the wardrobe. The one I made when I came back from my long warm trip in India and stepped right into this season dressed in thin summer clothes two years back.

It is nostalgia that grabs me as I take a walk around the Island. A nostalgia that I associate with Tarkowskij. Wet ground. Water dripping. Black trees. No wind. Pass behind the warf scrap yard with its rusty pile of old boat parts. Not much people out walking a day like today, just the occasional jogger puffing by engulfed in his own sweat and heavy breathing. A lonely old man with his black dog standing at the waters edge, smoking a cigarette, looking at the city.

runners s

My feet wade in a see of yellow wet leaves. On some places I have to walk beside the path to avoid brown slow mud. The air is absolutely still and soft with moist dampening the far away sounds of the city on the other side of the bay. Peaceful.

As I stop for a moment to choose which path to follow I hear the faint sound of water splashing below me, as if something, maybe a stone, is being tossed into the sea. And then another one, and another. Somebody is down there throwing stones into the sea. It makes me curious and I decide to follow the path that leads down to the waters edge instead of the one up to the top of the island. As I get closer to the steep edge leading down I can see the round circles out in the water made by each splash of a flying stone tossed from below. And someone is humming a tune gruntingly distorted at each toss of a new stone passing before my eyes. As I look down over the cliff down to the tiny beach below I see Prom. After each stone tossed far out into the water he makes a little dancelike spinn. Before throwing a new he juggles the stone three times from hand to hand. I can’t recognize what tune it is he is humming but now and then he sings out what must be the refrain: “- Oh jaey! I’ve got the cure – Toss a stone for sure! “. followed by a most gypsy like “- oumpada – pada – pada – aouha-á-á-á “ as he makes his little turning dance step.

I walk up to him, grab some stones from the ground and join in. As he sees me Prom makes a happy-surprised flinging his arms up in the air, keep them there, crouch and makes a few jumpy step to reach me for a big warm hug, bouncing his fire-mask-helmet into my head. He keeps humming and singing and together we continue throwing stones far out into the sea. I try to follow the tune and little dance steps.

tossing s

After having tossed a fair amount our stones suddenly collide in midair. Prom stops humming and dancing around, turns to me and says as I am about to throw my next stone: “- Stop! That was a lucky sign on this Friday the 13th. Our side by side flying paths towards the black and deep abyss met. A single spot in time and space. Stones knocked against each other make a spark. I just got the most sparkling epiphany. More or less as if all the stones we have enriched the sea with all have landed on top of each other in perfect balance, making a tall and thin column from the bottom of the sea up to its surface just waiting for the next one to fulfill its reach leaving the last resting as a magically floating impossibility for us to see. “

I drop the stones I have in my hand and gaze out at the sea as if his “epiphany” would actually show up as a single little stone resting on the big gray surface in front of me. Prom picks up a handful of stones and pile them on top of each other as he says: “- Metaphorically of course, but non the less real. The past: events, actions, decisions, curiosities, chance and choice. A pile building up leaving the last stone on top breaking the surface into visibility until the water rises again. If the construction below is thin and merely a fluke about to fall or a steady immovable pile of millions of supporting little pieces. Well to find that out one has to get wet. Maybe even have to dive down to the bottom to see if it is steady or not. “

I have no Idea what he is talking about, but understand the parable. What he is referring to beyond stones and water I don’t know, and tell him so.

But Prom continues as if he hasn’t heard me: “- And stones colliding in mid air.. So far from their natural state of resting quietly on the ground. Even if we tried a hundred times we couldn’t do it again, probably. Stones – hit – spark – air -water. Oh my, all the elements of a grandiose moment. Chance is a wonderful thing, and moments it bring into our unsuspecting tumbling backwards through life can be brilliant. Don’t you think?”. I am a little amazed by his preoccupation with such a small and random event but agree anyhow and ask him what he think we should do now, if this should be considered a sign or similar. But no. Prom denies that this is anything like a sign, or that it should be something that must compel us into doing anything specific at all besides from keeping in mind that this is “an aspect of these days to keep in mind”, as he puts it. “- At the most it is like this.” he says and picks up a bunch of sticks from the ground, take the to the waterfront and sticks them into the water. He arranges and fix with them for a while and then take a step backwards: “-What do you think?”.

Promsticks s

At first I do not see what he means, but then realize that the sticks and the reflection they make in the water spell the word “DECODE”, as the reflection in the water make the bottom part of each letter. “- Ha!, that was smart. I decoded it”, I exclaimed. Prom look at me with his head tilted and says: “-Aha.. Did you really? “, then bends down to stick some more sticks in the water next to the ones already there. Now it spells “ DECODED ECHO”.

decoded echo s

“- Very Smart” I say nodding sincerely. Prom now is silent, then sounds sincerely disappointed as he slowly says “-Ok…”, arms crossed over his chest. He looks at me for a moment as if thinking and then jerks his arms up in the air and say: “- But Oh! You just came back from the exhibition in Munich!? How was it? What happened? Did it go well? Was it magical? Who did you meet? Tell me!! I want to hear it all! Come on, I am bursting with curiosity. How could I forget. Now tell!!”.

We turn our backs on the beach and slowly walk back over the island to the house. Prom is full of questions and all ears. He gives me all the attention and full feedback sounding sincerely interested. Gives me new insights and reflects upon the exhibition in ways that sometimes seems totally wacky and sometimes intriguingly deep.

When we reach the house Prom stops and says: “-What? You have the house full of people? What is up?”. I tell him that there is a course held by a writer, about creative writing. A follow up course taking fairly ready material further towards completion. Prom shakes his head and says with a surprised voice: “- And you are out walking instead of taking part? Why?”. I tell him that they are renting, that the group is full, that it costs money, that I do not feel I have material ready for some kind of “step 2”, and that I rather just write or paint or sculpt than discuss and dissect and perfect. That I am just happy without taking part right now, even if it probably would be good and great.

Prom nods and says: “ Well, I am not either taking part. But then again I am not writing, but you are. Right? However I think that taking part is essential, and that withdrawal is the root of much evil, even if it of course is dearly necessary now and then. “. Prom is already on his way as he says this and the moment after he has vanished behind the bushes lining the path. I find myself standing alone, still one of the wet little sticks he used for his spelling on the beach in my hand.

As I enter the house I hear singing. Bob, the writer who leads the course in writing, incorporate much more than paper and pen. I am instantly offered lunch from the woman in the kitchen. Fish soup and a sandwich made on newly baked bread.

Archery with Zen

2015-10-11

Weekend, saturday and stillness outside. But inside turmoil, or at least an uneasiness. I am worried about the things I am to show in Munich. Two weeks left before it is time to drive down there, and what I have just does not feel good enough, much enough or coherent. I have spent a couple of days making a full mold for the sculpture of the begging baby, and making tests with making one out of earth. Proms last visit had an impact. The use of earth feels right. Earth being, for me, connected to the soul of Germany, both in a positive and negative way, history echoing. And the present is much about those in need begging for help. Will there be something new and better growing out of the situation our world is in now, or will all those whispering, talking, shouting, screaming about coming disaster be right.

But today I try to lay this aside. My youngest son is with me and we spend time doing other things. Things he like to do. Sometimes there is to much time spent in front of the computer. Sun shining outside so I dig out the bow and arrow from the box with toys, lure him out, which is easier than I expected. He gets fully engaged in perforating a piece of cardboard.

Sanno at the target

The cat finds it very interesting and does it best to be instantly killed by an arrow thinking that the result will be the opposite. When I chase it away under the fence with a loud shout I get a shout back from the other side. It is Prom and he asks if it is him I am trying to scare away or if he is allowed to enter the premises, which he of course is. Him showing up makes me feel happy. He is like a sign of good, or at least crazy, things to come. He climbs the fence: “- Gates are boring, fences are made to climb over”, is his casual comment as he jumps down in our midst. “- Ah! I see you are trying to kill a piece of cardbord. So there will be paper-steak for dinner?”. Sanno, my son, laughs but look at me with some wonder in his eyes. He hasn’t met Prom since this summer at the west coast and probably finds it a bit strange that this weird appearance suddenly stands in front of him again. But he looks up at him, ask: “- Do you want to give it a try?” and hand him the bow. Prom grabs an arrow and shouts out, dance round a few jumping steps waving the hunting gear in the air. “- Have you heard of the Japanese Zen master of archery who always hit the target but therefore understood that he was not complete? He spent years shooting and meditating to find Zen. Finally after many years he missed the target, became one with the bow and arrow and found Zen”. Sanno looks at Prom, sees him hit the target on his first try. “- Wow! You are really good. I think that was better than finding that Zen and miss the target”.

bow and arrow

Prom miss the target with his next arrow, lower the bow and says: “- Well, I would not consider myself a Zen-master, but I think the story has something else to tell than how one becomes a perfect archer, since that Japanese man already had come to the point of always hitting the target bulls-eye. So now you have something to think about. But we can try to kill the target today and try the Zen thing another day. Your turn”. Sanno takes the bow and does his best. Two arrows out of the seven wound the cardboard which makes him more determined to show Prom that he is a most talented archer. Prom gives him small advices now and then, woven into little jokes and stories about a turtle. Sannos shooting steadily improves and soon the three of us are competing on nearly equal terms. Only difference is that Prom has decided that we must stand on different distances from the target because we have arms that are different. Long arms far from the target, short arms closer. He claims that his arms are longer than mine.

After a while Prom turns his back to the target and shoots his arrows backwards.

shooting backwards

This maneuver looks rather silly, and his two first arrow miss the target. But when his arrows start to hit the target just as well that way as when he faced the target Sannos jaw drop and his eyes are about to pop out of their sockets. He turns to me and whisper: “- Dad, is he for real?”. Prom hears him, says: “- Booh! I am the magic spirit of backwards archery”, laughs and continues: “- Just kidding, come here, I will teach you how to do this trick”. He tells how it all is a question of making a thought line between three points, the target, the arrow and something further away following that line. Then comes the fine calibration of this; how to change the aim according to where the last arrow went. Sanno tries and soon gets the hang of it. His concentration is total when Prom says that he and I need a cup of coffee but that we soon will be back to check out if there is any cardboard left in the center of the target. Sanno is engulfed in his archery and barely nods an answere.

When we get inside Prom has no interest in the coffee I start to make but wants to know how my work is proceeding, if I have made any earth sculptures. I tell him about my troubles; how I made the new mold to hastily, and had to deal with selfmade problems, how the earth has been problematic to make sticky enough to hold together, sculptures falling apart, arms falling off, hands that look seriously handicapped. After listening for a while to my whining he stops me with the words: “- Niceties, odds and ends. That you can solve. And more, the rest, how will you present this, and together with what else, if anything?”. This is what has troubled me. I tell him that I originally had the plan to bring the things from the exhibition I am in now and add what new things I manage to get ready. But that I have the feeling that this is somehow “not right”, or at least not anything that I can come to terms with. Prom digs his hands in the earth that I have in a bucket ready for the next tryout in the mold.

fire and earth

He holds it up and says: “ But this you want to have with you down there in Munich?”. I nod and starts with a. “-But…”. Prom interrupts: “- No Buts, but And , and you want to, or can, and will.. ?”. This is pressure. I stay silent. Finally I say that I just don’t have enough new things to fill 70 square meters. Prom tilts his head and says: “- I heard about some native people, can’t remember which, but they said that we all walk backwards through life, meaning that we walk towards the future with our back that way. We can see what we have done, the past, and have only that as guidance as to how we should direct our steps into the future, a future we can’t see, since we walk backwards. “. Prom slowly walks around in the room backwards as he talks. “ So, if you do this, look into your past, instead of trying to look over your shoulder, is there anything you see there that you can use. You are free to take what you have done a long time ago and do it again, better, in this time, with today, bring it with you. I bet you have things back there, even if they are not here to physically lay your hands on.”. I look at Prom as he walks backwards somehow managing to bump into to many things. I think through my older things lost or sold long time ago. Prom says: “- Maybe something about earth, the earth, or what was it .. maps?” . It strikes me that I made an earth-globe of empty plates some years ago, sold and gone, but it would fit right in at this exhibition. But I still feel reluctant to remake something old, and especially if it is sold. Copy myself. And what should I tell the owner of the original art-piece if he finds out. I tell Prom but he just goes: “- Bollocks. Just do it. That owner will just be pleased if he finds out that he owns such a prominent piece of art, the first and in his eyes best. Who knows, he might want this one to. A globe of empty plates you said. The empty plate. Fitting if you feel that you have nothing to bring. And very Zen. The empty plate. For some reason I see it as one single lonely empty plate, white and set against a black background. Very Dutch-master-golden-age-oil-painting. Vanitas. “. I have no problem seeing what he describes. Look into my now empty coffee-mug and ask him: “ – What is this with Zen and emptiness? I am not really sure I get it. I mean; I understand, but the meaning of this emptiness seems to change inside me over time, as if it had a form that could change. Do you get what I mean?”. Prom doesn’t really answer me but start to talk about the philosopher John Locke and whether he ever could rid himself of the fact that his name gave the impression that he was “locked”, and if the concept of “freedom” was an untold base for his way of interpreting the wold. This makes me a bit confused but when Proms babbling glides into Lockes “tabula rasa” and the idea of a child beeing born as an “empty slate” ready to be inscribed, I say: “- Ah. Zen as an attempt to be this “tabula rasa”, being as a child, empty ready to be filled, instead of filled to the brim with no room for anything new? “ Prom stops walking around backwards: “- Maybe. So if you look even further back into your filled you. Is there anything else you would like to bring into this exhibition if you could bring it forward, backward?”. The image of that empty plate is still on my mind, haunting me, can’t let it go, and I tell Prom. We are now back in the kitchen, me pouring myself another cup of coffee and Prom taking out plates from the cupboard when I tell him what is on my mind. “- So, don’t you paint anymore? “. I admit that I do, but not so often, and I have not showed a painting at an exhibition in years. “- Why not? Don’t you like your paintings?” . Of course I do, but, well.. I guess I do not .. trust them as good enough. “- So you could not make this simple painting of an empty plate good enough to show at an exhibition? I bet you can, and it would fit right in. Empty plate, empty slate, empty begging hand, earth, globe of empty plates. Sounds like a good circle to me”. Prom holds up an empty plate and follow its circular form with his finger as he says “- Circle.. A full way around, no end, no start. Full form around an emptiness. The shape of Zero. Very Zen “.

Sanno comes in and ask me when we will get something to eat. Empty stomachs have to be filled with something else than talk about Zen. Prom has to go but promises to be back soon to see my empty plates. I fill Sannos and my plates with food. Non of us can live on thin air only.

Later this day I remember that I am invited to come to the release of a book about an exhibition that I was part of in Venice. Imago Mundi, to which some hundred artist from Sweden where asked to contribute with a 10x12cm painting.

Imago Mundi book

I did, and when I am there I realize that I actually has showed a painting recently, contrary to what I told Prom. One that was overloaded, far from empty, but still a painting. In Venice, in connection to the Venice bienale. Guess that counts, even if the painting was as small as that, nearly nothing. Strange feeling. Gives me something of a boost. I know I can do far better than that, and why not. Wounder what the organizers down in Munich will say when I drag a painting in, and a mess of dirt to make little deformed beggar-kids, and the copy of an old art-piece. To me this suddenly is the obvious exhibition I have to make. Damned Prom, he has lured me into this. Don’t know how he does it, but he always manage to give me strange decisions. Or is it me myself, and Prom has nothing to do with it?

Book release

I bring Sanno to the event. It is full of Champagne, good words and pleased people. But to my son this is an event empty of interesting things. There is no archery or Zen-masters or other ways to deal with his feeling of this being boring. So we leave to fill our life with something else. Outside the joyful event at the restaurant a beggar sits with his hand stretched out and with an empty plate in front of him on the pavement.

Growing

2015-09-28

So a day of work for others. Hanging paintings in a home. Paintings that once where good, still could be, but at this occasion just felt, well.. boring. Sad. Yes, they looked better once on the wall, and the people that hired my help were pleased, but I had to struggle to keep a happy face. Strange this how a painting can be more or less suffocated, transformed into timidity, tamed and silent hanged on the wall of a home that does not speak to it, with it. But maybe it was just me, my own feelings, my wish to be elsewhere, that spilled its dark paint over the situation. I do dearly hope the people I helped did not get contaminated by me. They did look content and happy as I hurried away to the next job, helping out at a gallery taking down an exhibition instead. Here to the same stillness. Packing things in plastic and boxes to be delivered to either homes like the one I just left, or down into basements and warehouses. These paintings looked at me with some more hope, still not aware of what was awaiting them. Still with big dreams of seeing the world, enlightening homes, lives. And who am I to judge? They very well might do just that. I just know how massive the pile of art is in storage around the world, and how slight the chance is that a piece of art will end up in a place where it feels alive.

Last night there is supposed to have been a moon-eclipse combined with a “super-moon” phenomena. Read in the paper that this only happens about once in a life-time. I stood there, dizzy from waking up in the middle of a dream about steering a boat down a rapid stream through an old landscape. Four o´clock in the morning, blanket wrapped around me, staring at a sky covered with clouds. Don´t know what I had expected of the situation. It could hardly have been a revolutionary experience if there had been a blood-red moon to see up there. But then again, who knows. Shrug in the cold damp air and give it up. Nice warm bed waiting to guide me into the landscape of dreams again.

Now there is less clouds in the sky as I walk to my studio house. Autumn in the air. Sun trying to do its best now and then, but without any real power. To far away busy heating the southern hemisphere, and up here in the north we have to be happy for the few rays left over. First yellow leaves appearing on the trees. The house is empty and silent as I arrive. Studio is dusty and deserted. The things I have been working on last week are all now in the show at Studio44. It was a nice opening. People said nice things. My things felt alive to me, and I hope they did to the visitors to. Guess I am now in the post-exhibition-trauma. Familiar. Even though I know that this will happened there is no way around but trying to dive into the next project, forget about the past and move on. Clear my table and try to collect my thoughts, focus on the task ahead. Next bigger thing is the exhibition in Munich end of next month. Everything has to be ready for transport in 4 weeks from now. I will have a few days in between the present exhibition and next. So I could present the things I have done with Prom there to. Somehow that feels like, well not really what I would most dearly like to do. Afraid they will not stay awake that long, and that it will be to little. The space in Munich is five times as big as my space at Studio44.

I take a little walk in the garden. Stop by the three little concrete sculptures in the bushes. One of them has had its hand knocked of by some visitor here. One has fallen on its back. One remains solid and untouched. They all still have their begging little right hand stretched forward in an asking gesture. As I bend down to raise the fallen sculpture to its feet again I here sounds of breaking branches, someone walking in the bushes behind the fence. Prom. He squeezes in passing the fence in the corner of the garden where it is broken.

Prom through the fence

“- What´s up? Are you giving life back to a dead little child of concrete, eh?”. I nod and sigh, remain next to the three little kids as Prom walks over by my side. He cross his arms over the chest and look. “- They do not seem as content today as when we put them out here”. I agree, push the newly raised sculpture in place a bit, try to position them slightly different. “- Wonder how long before they become part of nature, grow a beard of moss and new skin of lichens”, Prom says kicking the moss of a stone next to him. Years is my guess. We leave the little ones and walk over to the little greenhouse. It is a bit neglected, weeds and plants a little jungle striving on oblivious of the fact that the world outside is getting colder. Prom grabs a little tomato still hanging on its branch overripe.

Prom in the green house

“- Life and death. But summer will come again and then these days of descent will be a very distant memory”. But then he bounces up and wants to know all about the exhibition. Promise that he will pass by some day and take a look, but wants to know if anything interesting happened at the opening. I tell him, about the good and the bad, the nice and the stupid, about what was said and what was not. I end with telling about my “post-exhibition trauma”, todays feelings as I was at work, and what lies ahead. As I talk Prom digs in the earth, take a handful now and then to scrutinize. “- What are you looking for? “, I ask. “-Seeds. There must be seeds here, waiting for the next spring. Here! Found one! I suggest you bring it with you and incorporate it in whatever you will do next”. I ask him if he has any suggestions about in what to plant it, and tell him I like the idea of a seed starting to grow on a sculpture. A little plant coming out doing what it does regardless of where it is. “- Yeah! Like out of an eye, or mouth or on top of the head of a sculpture. He! Imagine the surprised look it would give to a head for example”. As we bring the seed inside we pass the little kids again. I remember I still have the molds for them and tell Prom it would be an idea to make a little kid with plants growing on it. Prom likes the idea and we walk back to the greenhouse, grab a deserted bag of earth and bring it in to the studio.

While the sun is setting outside we make tests with the earth and the molds. Mix in water, wheat flour, floating clay. Try in different ways to make the earth stick and hold together much enough to be possible to work with.

earth experiments

We make a few tests and leave them to dry overnight but agree that what is needed is probably not only a better binder but also some kind of skeleton to keep it all from falling apart. And there are the problem with the mold being in several parts. The sculpture probably has to be made in one part to stick together enough. I feel a bit distrustful about if this can be done well, but Prom is all hope and belief. Tells me to get some different kinds of glue at the hardware store next day and we will make more tests. “-Sure it can be done. No worries! This is fun dirty work. I can’t wait until the plants begin to grow on the first one. “

When he leaves he takes the seed he found with him. Says he knows just where to plant it. Sings a little tune as he walks down the road: “- Grow, grow, grow your boat gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily merrily, life is but a dream “. A clear giant moon is rising over the houses on the other side of the bay. Just about full, on its first night to decline. But to me it feels the other way around now. Something is growing again.

full moon

Bad and good spin

2015-09-16

I should be working with my sculptures. Or rather our sculptures, mine and Proms, since the exhibition ”Encounter” has its opening in 10 days. I intended to show what I and Prom have done together. Luckily it is a group-show, and my part will not be super-big. The things we have done together are not many enough to fill a solo-show.

I did work with the sculpture of dia-photos this morning, and it is just about ready. There is also the Pinocchio sculpture, but other than this it is not so much. It is all this writing and photos of our meetings, and I guess I should present that to. But writing is not an easy thing to show at an exhibition. Nobody will take the time needed to read it all. Last time I counted it was about 50 pages. There is also the sculpture of the blindfolded woman, which now is ready. She got a hole in her head where the compass can be inserted. Looks like a crown when it is there. But there is little chance I can get someone to help me burn it in time, and there is still something missing. I don’t really know what it is but to me it feels as if something has to be added or changed or.. well, I don’t know.

It is a terrible day. It starts with me having to handle complaints from our neighbors at the studio. We sublet the house to various events now and then, courses, conferences and other. Last weekend there was a wedding-party here, and they just overdid the entertainment. Brought in to much and big speakers-systems to have friends play. I guess we, I, should have said stop, but I trusted that they would be sensible. Sadly enough there are neighbors here that just hate our guts. The evening before I slept over in my studio after long hours of work. At two o’clock I got an SMS complaining about the volume, that we were playing to loud music. Absurd, since the house was dead silent. When I went outside I could hear the faint sound of a concert or like from far away, nothing that could be detected from inside. I responded a bit to grumpy and mad myself an enemy. So when the party next day was to loud it resulted in complaints to the police and our landlord. And that is now an issue of gravity. The landlord says we can not sublet to parties, and moreover my sleeping at the studio (which I revealed as I answered that I did to the complaining neighbor) is in conflict with what we are allowed to do here.

Head spins and mood is down below bottom. Everything seems out of order. I also had a meeting with the people taking part in the Munich exhibition end of October, and got a message from a show in which I will have a piece of work. Feels like nothing is ready, and all I have is either bad or not ready.

But I do some futile work with what I have, just pushing ahead. Banging my head against the immovable wall of my own expectations. Every step of work I do feels as following a road leading to the abyss of failure.

I find myself motionless, staring at my things in the studio with contempt. No point in going on further today.

Walking down to the kitchen I look outside and see Prom sitting in the garden reading. Slumped in the grass, back to the trunk of the large oak, large book in his hands. I walk over to him and sit down in the grass. Prom says hi but does not look up, he is deeply engaged in the book. He is slowly turning the book around with the open page towards him. I watch for a while and then says: “- Must be hard to read when you turn the book like that. What is it about?”. Prom stops and looks up with a: “- Wow, the world is spinning”. He explains that he has been reading about dervishes, and made an experiment. Turning the book slowly while reading and letting the brain adjust to that made his vision “spinning”, as he puts it. “- So now everything looks as if it is turning, spinning around?”, I ask. Prom just nods and then says that he wants to spin in the same way the dervishes do. He drags me into the house and finds a blanket, wraps it around himself and start spinning. “- Come join me, lets spin into a new state of consciousness”. I really need a diversion from my abyss and immovable mountain wall. So why not. I grab a blanket and spin around together with Prom for a long time. It does not take long before I feel dizzy and have to stop, trips over and crawls up against the wall. Prom seems to be totally unaffected and spins on and on while I try to make the world around me feel steady again.

Dervish

Finally Prom stops, sits down next to me and ask why I stopped. When I explain that I got dizzy and lost my balance he just laughs and says that I failed to be part of the spin, that I got to involved in trying to stop the spin instead. He might be right, but I say that I have had enough spin in my day as it is and tells him about my troubles. Prom nods rises from the floor and walk over to the window. He is silent for a while and then says: “ Well. It is not so pleasant when the world spins around and one can’t follow, when others try to spin you away against your wish. But there is not really anything else to do than spin along, unless you want to start a fight. See it as a dance. To dance well it is essential to enjoy, and I do think that you can do that”. It feels a bit hopeful when he puts it like this. I tell him that I will try to dance, but nevertheless, as it is now I have a hard time to dance with my own feeling; a feeling that I have lost my track, can’t find the direction, that my artwork and the upcoming exhibitions are more troublesome than a pleasant dance. Prom says with a vaguely protective voice that he of course will help me, especially as I have decided to show our collaborative works at the first exhibition.

I show him the sculpture of the woman with a compass in/on her head. Prom turns it around, inspects it, sit down and then says that I am mistaken. “- It is not a woman, it is not a man either, it is a sculpture, and it looks rather androgynous to me. But I suspect that your feeling that something is missing or is wrong comes from the compass. As it is now one gets the feeling that there is a definite direction, a clear course, a defined north even if the sculpted head is blindfolded. But since you feel differently it does not correspond to you. Either you accept that this sculpture has an inner compass that is right, or otherwise you have to make the compass confused; correspond to what you feel”. We discuss for a while how that could be done, and Prom comes with the idea that I should place a magnet under the compass, a magnet that turns around, maybe with the help of a little motor. It is an idea that strikes a cord in me, and Prom to seems to be happy about it. So we get down to it. Prom is now up and spins around like a dervish again. Spins towards the door and says that he will be back in an hour, just need to get the things we need to complete the sculpture.

While Prom is gone I try to make my wheels turn, spin, move in a better way. Move my things around, look at them from other angels, move them to another place. It helps. At least I forget all the outside trouble for a while.

Prom is soon back with a little electric motor, battery powered and meant to slowly spin a disco ball, and a small powerful magnet. I let him work away in my studio, happy that he makes this part all by himself. He does it fast and well. Soon the compass is spinning on the sculpture head. Not with a steady movement, the magnet is a little off center underneath and make the compass hesitate sometimes in its revolving movement. A lucky incident in my opinion, makes it better and I tell Prom so. He makes a little spin on the floor making a sound as if he was an electric motor.

compass head new

Then he ask me if everything is set for the exhibition now. To which I have to answer that it is not. “- So what is the problem? Tell me. Lets spin the stuff into the next level, solve the problems”. I tell him that I have had problems with the light in the dia-photo sculpture, that it keeps burning my fuses. Prom takes a look and says that I should just take away four of the six lamps. “- Keep only the one at the heart and the one in the head, make them bigger ones. You do not need the ones in the legs and arms. Anything more?”. I tell him that I wanted to make dia-photos of the digital photos I have from our meetings, but that it is too expensive, and I have trouble finding a dia-projector that has the needed automatic system to change and show all the photos. Prom just shrugs his shoulders and says: “- Yes.. it would be nice to have an actual revolving dia-casette going, the real stuff. But if you can’t solve that make it the second best. Do it digital, make a slide-show with the old sound, present it with a video-projector. It will make a confusing effect if it looks and sounds as the old stuff but is not”. I realize that he probably is right, that it will take me couple of hours work to make that look good, convincing, but that it will solve my problem. Prom then asks about my writing, if I am going to present that to. I have to admit that this to is a problem, that text in an exhibition has a tendency to move the mind away, that it is to much, that I have counted the pages I have written and that it is about 50 pages which is way to much for anyone to take in even with the best of will. To present the text would most likely be like a noise, a disturbance. Prom says that he likes that, the disturbance, and that I should let the text be just that, but maybe not as a bunch of text slapped in the lap like a book or like. “It can be a background noise, a gitter, a projection-surface for the mind instead of an abyss or hindrance. Yes that is it. Do that! “. I can’t really follow: “- Do what?”. “- A projection surface. Nail all the text to the wall and project the photos on them. That will make them very hard to read, but if someone get interested they can read your blogg, right?”. This is to fast, to many solutions at once, just about to easy and I tell Prom so. “- Feels like everything is spinning, makes me dizzy”. “- Good, good, then we are moving, and I feel like I have contributed to this exhibition. Because it is supposed to be a collaboration, right?”. I have to admit that it is so, and that it in a way feels good that he helps me making these final crucial decisions. “ – Ok. Nice to be a part of this. What else? We made the Pinocchio together. Are we showing that? I think it would be a good contrast, and a good thing if it was there. Anything we need to do with that?”. Prom grabs the sculpture, place it on a table and walks around it, hands on his back and nodding violently. Now and then he stops and start circling the sculpture the other way. He is making little thinking sounds, mumble, bend and look at it from underneath. After this little charade comes the verdict: “- It is not spinning. It is rather.. motionless. Looks as if it is thinking, reflecting upon its deeds, but keep holding its absurd nose high in defiance. It is somehow dual. Alive and dead. Sculpted and an Object Trouve. Heavy and light. I think we could enhance this. I would place it on a mirror. It is about looks, about self-reflection, duality and absurdity. And of course about lies, the Pinocchio story. So a mirror is not wrong, fits in the picture so to say. That is my solution. Put it on a mirror. And the wood is driftwood. And in the story about Pinocchio he walks on the bottom of the sea with his donkey ears and long nose. Putting the sculpture on a mirror would imitate the moment when he breaks the surface, comes back from the abyss, the last and bad moment before he is rewarded with real life, is redeemed. “. I am silent. Just look at Prom. He acts as if everything is a game, a joke, but he always manages to say deep and thought-worthy things in the middle of his playfulness. Now he is standing in the middle of the room, arms stretched out in a Jesus-like gesture and says: “- Let it be and it shall be”. All this has put me in a quite double emotion. At the one hand I am sort of relieved that Prom has taken a couple of final decisions. On the other hand I feel a bit run over and bullied around. I realize that it is my ego that has been given a turn, that I just have to accept that if this is going to be a collaboration I must go with Prom and not my ego. I tell Prom this and he laughs and says that it is all good, and now he will leave me to do the work, and that he hopes that I do not feel offended by that but that he leaves because he thinks that I am the better one to make what is needed now. He gives me compliments on my ability to make things, on my artistic talent and capacity. He talks about my how fantastic I am until I can do nothing but blush and laugh. But he actually sound very sincere, I and am just not used to handle this kind of praise so I ask him please to stop and just have a cup of coffee with me before he leaves.

So that is how we do. We drink coffee, talk about the cat and other neutral subjects. When Prom leaves he does it with a wish of good spirit and a hug. He promise to come back soon, but says that he will leave me alone until after the opening, thinking that I have enough to do with the sculptures and everything else.

We part with a long wave. He walks away backwards slowly waving until he disappears behind the bushes where the road turns. I miss him already. Now it is only focused work ahead.

Ugliness and a storm coming

2015-09-05

The letter I never got. The one that ended up in Proms pocket because I made a decision, a choice in a game last time we met. It actually was a letter to me, and it actually was from the police. It has been nagging me, and I have not met Prom since the last time, and have not had the opportunity to ask him to give it back, which I am not so sure he would anyway. But since I had the idea that the letter could be about the sculptures I found this spring, and handed in to lost and found, I wanted to know. So I called the police and asked, and was told that I was right, and that I will be given a quite big financial reward for this. Money. It came in the nick of time, to say the least. I am on the verge of total bankruptcy. There are bills on my table screaming for attention, with red warning lamps blinking and a big black cloud of doom knocking on my window. If the dear constable by the police bank vault just decides that my errand is of utter most importance and has to be expedited ASAP, there is a slight chance I will salvage myself from the need of begging friends for a short term loan. I would love avoiding that. Not that it would be a huge problem, I have nice friends ( but they are usually just as poor as I am ), but there is the “social bank” that also have interests and consequences. The social bank. Yes. A bank that some people have better and some have worse relations with. I do not have bad relations with my social bank, but I am not a good costumer. Rarely take anything out, and always feel I have put to little in, which make me less disposed to deal with that bank at all. The social bank. Maybe not everybody agrees on how it works, what it is and what it means. But everybody has the concept of it in one form or other. In one way it could be described as “help payed back with help”, in another it would be described as love and respect. I guess that all the different descriptions are right since they reflect a persons beliefs about social relations. I hope you do not think that I see my relations to other people as mere transactions. On the contrary. That is just the reason to why I prefer not to have things like money, debt, loans, transactions, in my relations to people I love and respect. And I guess that is, in turns, a reason to why I so frequently find myself in financial shortcomings.

I am glad at least that the letter from the police was not to Prom, and of the nasty kind. It does though make me wonder again, as many times before, how he survives. How he gets his money, food, home. What he does when he is not with me. I know that to some people it must seem utterly absurd that I do not know these things, that knowledge like that is essential, crucial. I remember when I was a child, and had a new friend home to visit. What my parents asked those little dirty boys who only wanted to play. Questions that in a barely disguised way were intended to give them this information. Questions like; “where do you live?” or “what does your parents do for a living”. Questions that somehow always embarrassed me, because they defined these friends in a manner that was far from how I wanted to define them. I wanted to play Cowboy and Indians or Space traveler, not figure out if they had a specific status based on their parents income or lived in a good neighborhood. I guess that has colored me. I still prefer to judge people from what we do together rather than what they do with others, or where they live or how they make their income for that matter.

That is what I sit and think about, looking down into my jar of small change. It is quite a lot. A big tin-can filled with mostly one-crowns. My guess is that it would cost me more to buy that amount of metal than this heap of round punched fake silver is worth. More weight and mass than value.

money s

I push aside the things on my messy kitchen table and pour the coins out into the sunshine. A sunshine that at that moment disappears, rainclouds coming this way. The cat is there at once, curious about every unusual thing that happens, and especially when it takes place on a table that sometimes harbor pieces of interesting food. But she only takes a sniff and then turns her attention to one of the last flies of summer trying to penetrate my dirty window (wonder how dirty the window have to be before they realize that it is a barrier not worth struggling against ).

I just look at the pile of coins, can’t be bothered to count them and turn my eyes to the garden outside just to see Prom sitting on the gravel path. It is now raining but Prom does not seem to bother, as he is deeply involved in something clearly to interesting to let himself be distracted by anything as petty as a little water from the sky. He is clearly looking for something on the ground, scratches his hand through the gravel and picks something small up now and then. I watch him for a while until I can’t hold my curiosity back any longer and walk outside to ask him what he is doing. “- Collecting”, is his short answer, fire-hidden face directed to the ground with intense concentration. I nod: “- I see, you want to find pretty little stones, but there is not so many of them here I would say. Not like on the beach or so”. Then Prom stops and looks at me, still and quiet as if thinking, or disbelieving about my words. So I ask: “ Have you found any? Can I see?”. Prom stands up and shows me what he has collected in his hand. Eight very ordinary little stones. I am a bit surprised and can’t help asking what it is. “-Stones of course”, he says. “-Yes I can see that, but why have you collected just these ones?”. Prom brush of the dirt from his knees and says: “- Ugly, eh? Fascinating, aren’t they?”. I look at them again. It actually is a rather ugly little collection. “- What do you mean fascinating?”. Prom is down on his knees again, picks a stone up, inspect it and then decides it is not worth keeping. “- They are really hard to find you know. Much harder to find the ugliest stones than the prettiest. It is really a rare thing to find a truly ugly stone. Promise you I can find much worse ones than you. It takes long practice, a trained eye and an impeccable sense of ugliness. And I doubt you have the nose for it, judging from they way you try to make your art look pretty. No offense. I think you make interesting art, but you clearly have an issue with trying to make things look nice, which of course is all fine. But I am dead sure you lack a sense of ugliness, which in my opinion is a flaw. A minor flaw maybe, but still a flaw. “ It is never easy to hear someone point out that one has a flaw, even though I wouldn’t ever consider myself flawless. His comment is nagging enough to pick up the challenge: “-Bet I can”, I say and jump into the search. After a while of scratching and judging stones I find a quirky looking bent stone with a sick yellow color. I show it to Prom with a little victorious flutter in my chest, but he dismiss it with the comment: “- You mistake originality with ugliness. That stone has character, and is in its own way actually beautiful”. I look at the little stone in my hand, and have to admit he actually is right. But I don’t accept it as defeat but get back to the search with new intensity. My next candidate for miss (mr?) Ugliness is a sharp and gray slightly bigger stone which I present to prom with stabbing movement as if it was a dagger. He shakes his head, fire-spikes on his head violently bouncing: “- No, no. That one is just evil. But ok, ugly-evil. Probably the kind that place itself under your foot if you walk barefoot on a nice summer day happily jumping on your way to the beach”. Guess he is right again and continue my search. But first I fling the evil one into the bushes away from happy jumping feet. This time I try to think backwards, try to find a stone that in no way excel or distinguish itself. But my choice is only met with the short word verdict: “- Ordinary and boring”. I continue for a little while but slowly give up, sit down on the side of the path and dig in the gravel listlessly. Tell myself it is the nagging rain and not a case of giving up; just resting for a while.

Ugly stones s

Watch the cat trying to catch a magpie that clearly is mocking her by jumping to the next higher branch in the tree every time she has climbed closer. She is now far to high up, know that but can’t help herself. The magpie leaves her with a laughing sound clenching to one of the highest branches. I juggle some stones in my hand looking over to Prom who rises with a pleased sound watching a new finding of uttermost ugliness closely. He looks at me and says: “- What have you found? Anything interesting?” and comes over to look at the single stone that is left in my hand of the hand full that I have been juggling around aimlessly. “- Oh, nothing. I gave up”. But Prom doesn’t listen to that: “- Let me see” . I give him the stone and he watch it in his open hand. “- Very ugly indeed. Lucky bastard “, he says and hands it back to me with hesitation as if he would like to keep it to himself. I look at the stone with bewilderment. Ugly, yes I guess so, but have tp admit to Prom that I give up, that I clearly don´t have his unique eye for the divine ugliness. “-You will learn, don’t worry. Most people don’t, have been to much and to long taught to avoid this crucial knowledge. But everybody can learn again. It is a natural thing, not something acquired “. I wonder, nod and ask: “- So what are you going to use them for? Or are you just collecting them for fun? I mean they are ugly, it can´t be that you keep them for that, or?”. Prom shakes his head and explains that he needs them instead of breadcrumbs. That is to beyond me so I respond that I right now prefer to have some bread, not crumbs. Prom is also hungry he says so we make our way to the kitchen and a sandwich each. The cat has managed to come down from the treetop in one piece and joins us by her own food. No magpie for lunch today, luckily. Or maybe it is the rain that she is escaping. Lick her fur and then look at me as if saying: “- What? Me? Giving up? No, I can easily catch that magpie if I want, but it is a bit to rainy now. I look at Prom. “- What did you mean with Bredcrumbs “, I have to ask. Prom sit back and poke around the bread crumbs on the table into a little line leading from his blue mug of coffe to my white mug: “- You know the story of Hansel and Gretchen? That they lay out breadcrumbs in the forest to find their way home, but that the birds eat them and they get lost? It is better to use ugly stones, especially if one only wants people with a very good sense for ugliness to find the trace “. A trace, I imagine that there are ugly little stones laid out as a trace from here to Proms hideout, and that I with my bad eye for this has failed to see it, and I ask Prom if this is the case. Prom leans back, swoops up all the breadcrumbs in his hand and toss them into his mouth through an opening in his mask. “- You think I have a hideout? And that if I did I would lay out a trace leading there from here? A trace that I am quite shure that you would not see? Why on earth would I do that? No, I haven’t used my little stony friends yet “. The infamous stones huddle together in on the kitchen table, look for protection amongst each other from the unknown plans of Prom.

Beauty stones

While prom walks over to the kitchen desk to make another sandwich and refill his cup of coffee I spread the stones on the table, then arrange them into the word: BEAUTIFUL. Prom looks at what I am doing and says: “ – Well.. now they don’t look that ugly anymore, of course. You do certainly have an issue with the beautiful. Can´t help yourself eh? “. I keep poking the stones and tell Prom that maybe I do, since I have a hard time seeing why these stones on the table are especially ugly, to me they just look ordinary. In my opinion “ugliness” is not anything absolute, rather an evaluation made in comparison with how things ought to be, ideally. That ugliness is the result of a lack, or deformation or fault. So since every stone is just a stone, and there is no specific way to say that a stone should be in any special way, then a stone can hardly be ugly. Prom laughs and says that: “- Now you are out on deep water. Apply that reasoning to beauty, then you get into trouble, I would say. Isn’t this similar to defining what Art is? However, I am of the opinion that if one can define beauty then that same definition ought to apply also to the opposite; ugliness. Then the definition can be whatever. And you, I guess, think that you can define if a stone is beautiful “. I think about this for a while as Prom is tidying up after our little meal. I realize that our little philosophical discussion has to do with the concept of “Value”, how to define good from bad, and that even though I have spent quite some time dealing with these thoughts before I have a hard time giving Prom any straight answers. I tires me. I have been lured high up and out on a thin branch and as I think that Prom says he has to leave. “Have my trace to lay out and want to get it done before night”. I ask him if there is a special reason that he has to lay them out now and his answer surprises me: “- Well, there will be a storm tonight, thunder and lightning, that is why. See ya! By by!” and that is it.

The cat does not bother about beauty or ugliness. Has found a good spot to rest on top of the inkjet printer.

Cat sleeping s

That evening there is an open air show in the park on the other side of the bridge, in Rålambshovsparken. Ulrika and I ride our bikes there. My bike is an old really rusty ladies bike with warped wheels missing some spokes. It sounds terrible and I have a constant feeling that it might fall apart beneath me every time I use it. But I like it. It has passed from beeng ugly into a deeper state, is now a relic and outpost of stubbornness.

burnt out punks s

The show is called “ Burnt out Punks” and involve a lot of fire, actors dressed in mad-max gear and a big fat master of ceremonies wearing a corset and red high heels as well as a top hat. This is far from the classical beauty of high art ballet. It is a show built on dirt, danger and slapstick. But still. Beauty is there, copulating with ugliness in a free spirit of trying to reach ecstasy. Which is which is not of any real importance, it is crazy and fun, which is just right an evening like this. Maybe one of the last warm nights before autumn is setting in. The rain has stopped and the outdoor scene has a full audience.

Prom was right. There is a thunderstorm coming. On our way home after the show Ulrika and I stop on the top of the bridge with its view of the city lights. Windy and I have to hold my hat to stop it from blowing down into the dark waters far below. At the horizon is a spectacular light show. Lightning making the clods glow and pulsate. The storm is still to far away to make any noice. Only the wind and city sounds in the night now, but later this will be shatteringly thunder shaking our windows. I wonder who might be out on a night like this to follow Proms track of laid out ugly stones,

A game of Decisions

2015-09-02

A day of work, building for others; at Lijewalchs konsthall, a public art gallery. This is in a way relaxing, or at least not stressful in a way that the work with my own things can be. Someone else has decided what should be done, the world and the decisions for me to make has been narrowed down. It is also a nice gang of people working there. Basically all the technicians come from the art-world; has done their years at pre-art-schools and art academies. They make their own art, their own exhibitions and have a life based on something else than this. We all need the extra money to make the wheels turn, and to find these money on these sideroads of art comes natural.

A day rolls by, filled with clearly defined tasks to complete, but not to clearly defined. There are enough easy esthetic choices to be made to make the work slightly interesting, enough varied problems to solve to keep the mind occupied.

But as I return home, naturally tiered from a day of carpentry work, my own deadlines and choices to make flood me. To keep calm and focused becomes easily blurred, mind spinning into near panic. Just get to work and solve the problem, to be creative and inventive, to settle into that state of mind where time flies and disappears; well, that takes some self control. To not talk about all the doubts, is this worth doing? Should I decide to make something else? Is this good enough, or am I taking the easy way out? Is this even art? Even though time is rapidly closing in on me I still haven’t reached the point of “no time for hesitation left”. I do tricks to my mind, I laugh and shrug, focus and try to “just do”, but all to often find myself sitting in a corner thinking, and.. after a while a can’t remember what it was I tried to figure out, or even what it is I have spent the last hour thinking about. Procrastination is a constant easy way out that just makes it’s way in to my doings through the back door, I suddenly find myself cleaning up or sorting papers, without there being any need for it.

But this evening I have decided to make something out of clay. I have a possibility to burn a few things before the exhibitions, but things made of clay must dry, for quite some time. So the window of possibility is rapidly closing if I want to have them ready in time. I do not have a one simple clear idea ready in my head about what to make, I have many fuzzy ones. So once everything is put on the table, when I have managed to rip myself away from the procrastination of making coffee, checking mail and clearing my side tables, I slump down on the chair, a big gray lump of clay in front of me. Silence.

My eyes are drawn to a big old compass that a friend has returned to me. He got it from me when I got rid of all my belongings two years ago. No it is back, even though my intentions where never to take any of my old stuff back. He said that everyone needs something that gives them the direction in life, a clear guide that always points the right way. He said it with a laugh, as a joke, a pun on the compass. But, it can not be denied that he is right. I think I do know what my direction is, but still think that he was right telling me this. Still have difficulties when it comes to decisions.

As I sit there, a lump of clay in one hand, the compass in my other, Prom arrives. He koncks on my door and at first I think it is Peter, my studio neighbor who runs this place together with me and Ulrika. We are not on the best terms at the moment as he thinks that I should do more but does virtually nothing himself to run this place. And we are, on top of that, very much different on most levels. So when I hear the knock I call out: “- Yes, what? I am busy!”, without rising up. When I hear the door open anyway I turn around with that bored and slightly irritated look; heads tilted, eyes half closed, the corners of my mouth slightly down and lips parted just enough to let out a barley audible but heavy long sigh. Prom, halfway through the door, freezes and slowly raise his hands in the air: “- Wow, what? Do you want me to leave? Did I disturb you? I am truly sorry to barge in like this but, well… I just had to escape the rain and saw the light in your window as I passed by. Tell me and I will leave at once”.

His appearance catches me off guard. The mixture of his soaking wet clothes and the bright fire-mask-helmet on his head is such a weird contrast, both in junction and to what I had expected to meet as I turned around. So I don’t know what to say. After a few moments of confused silence Prom drops his arms and says: “ What? Should I stay or should I go? “, which jerks me into action. “- No, yes I mean, stay, come in and dry yourself. Sit down. Sorry, I am just in the middle of, well I am not really sure yet what”. Prom bounce in, asks if he can make a fire in the heater to dry his clothes. He is full of energy as usual. Talks about things he has seen in the rain, how raindrops bounce and the taste of the air.

compassfire s

I hum and nod, my mind still not with him which he soon recognizes, stops, looks at me and says: “- Seems like you have a decision to make. But staring at that compass will hardly help you”. I respond a bit sourly that I am thinking, but yes, I have a decision to make. “- So what do you have to decide? What are the options?”. I find it hard to define any clear options without starting a long talk about the different ideas that tumble around in my head, and I tell Prom so. “- Ha! You want to make a smart choice, is my guess. You wish that an amazing idea will pop out of your head and is waiting for that to happened. That is my guess. I have a game we could play that might help. A game of decisions. So, how about that?”.

I give up, realizing that now with Prom in the room I will not be able to get any work done anyway. And why not? Following into Proms games and tricks has proved somewhat fruitful before. So I put the compass to the side, cover the clay and follow him downstairs to the house common room. Outside it is dark and the rain is beating heavily on the windows. Prom fiddles with the radio and finds a channel with some people speaking Finnish. “- Good to have some nonsense sound in the background for this”, he explains and then dives into the closet; looking for something. He is soon back waving furiously with a red little towel he has found. “- Put this over your eyes. You need to be blindfolded to play this game“. He helps me to put it on, checking closely that I can’t see anything and then he asks me if I want to have the thing he has in his right hand or the thing he has in his left hand. He tells me to think about it hard, to really try to make the right choice, that it is essential that I choose right. I can not change once I have made my choice and have the thing in my hand.

covereyes s

I ask if he will give me any clues, any information of some kind, so that I have a fair chance to make the right choice. But no, nothing, no clues whatsoever. It does not really feel fair, but I remind myself that this is a game, so there will hardly be any life threatening wrong choices I can make, and I say “- Ok, let’s roll”. Prom leaves me for a while to get the things that I have to choose between. I sit there blindfolded listening to a talkshow in Finnish, they laugh, so apparently funny things are said, but that passes my by totally. I have no idea what they are talking about. My situation feels rather funny, so I laugh and make a quick and careless choice when Prom comes back and ask me to decide which hand to pick. I am given a big sharp knife and Prom reminds me that the decisions I make are vital, can not be changed and maybe I should be more careful about what I choose, The knife in my hand feels threatening and gives me the suspician that this might be more serious than I might want. But we continue. I try to imagine based on the choices I have made which hand that might hold a good thing and which might hold something bad. I do all sorts or mental calculations to see if there is any way to figure out how to decide left or right. This continues for a while. Prom refuses to answer the questions I make; only tells me that he will not give me any clues of any kind, that I have to find them inside myself. I can feel what it is I am given after each choice, but that is the only leads I have. Most of the things I recognize as things from the kitchen. The last thing is an envelope, and then Prom lets me take off the blindfold, but first he tells me to wait while he takes away the things I have decided not to take.

“ -Now you have to use all these things to make one thing. You have to use as many of them as possible, and they all have to be used for one single purpose, as parts of a bigger whole. I would see it as a failure if there is more than one thing that you leave unused. “

I will take away from you the thing that you can´t find a use for. Then we will use the things. Now you are free to ask me, or someone else, for help to reach your goal.

Looking at the things it does not take me long to pick out the envelope, it is an official letter and I can see that it has the police-logo printed on it. I think that I can look in it later, so even if it really intrigues me I leave it to Prom who puts it in his pocket. “-Are you sure?” he asks, and I say yes.

The things in front of me are, as I had already figured out, all from the kitchen; the knife, an apple, a packet of sugar and so on. It presents me as quite clear that this could be used for making a cake, even if there are a few odd ingredients like pepper a string and pair of sunglasses that usually have their place in the kitchen window. I ask if I can add things to what I make and as that is OK I start making kind of apple-cake. I wear the sunglasses, and use them as a spoon. The string I use to measure parts of the ingredients, folding and doubling it. The pepper is used sparingly.

This takes us an hour and while we mess up the kitchen we keep listening to the Finnish channel on the radio, which makes us speak a homemade nonsense Finnish and dance to the Finnish songs that are played now and then. It is all very fun and I have by now totally forgotten about my clay and compass.

When the cake is ready we have a feast. It proves to be good enough to only leave little crumbs on the table. Crumbs that even the cat finds interesting enough to be eaten.

Suddenly Prom looks at the clock on the wall and explains that he has a meeting with the fox. “-The fox? What fox? ”, I ask as he rises and get ready to leave. “- And you have to tell me what the things that I did not choose where. “ . But Prom is halfway out the door now and only respond: “- No, I can’t tell you what those things where, that is the point. When one decide something one can not know what the result would be if one decided something else, one can only guess, and that is rather pointless. But the result one knows, and this time it was a marvelous cake”. And then he is away, whistling a slightly Finnish sounding tune in the rain.

I clean away the mess we have made in the kitchen listening to some Finnish rock-band. Quite good. When I come up to my room again I am met by the big lump of gray clay and the compass. Maybe it is the mixture of sugar and pepper in my stomach, but now I start immediately working and keep on doing so for a couple of hours. A head, of a young woman, blindfolded. She can’t see where she is going, But next to her is the compass waiting, and they will be one in the end.

blinded sculpture s

When I am finnished, sorry, finished, and get ready to go to sleep, to late, which far to often becomes the case when one has two (or more) jobs; I remember the envelope, the letter from the police. It is still in Proms pocket. I never got it. I don’t know if it was meant for me, or if it was his letter, as I never got to see the address and name on it. Intriguing, and of course a bit worrying. I find it hard to think that the Police would send a letter with a nice surprise, quite the contrary. But then it strikes me that it could be good news to me about the sculptures that I found and handed in to “lost and found”. It could be a letter telling me that they are now mine, or that I will be given a reward. I dearly hope that that is the case, but there is a small nagging voice in the back of my head insisting that I have done something wrong and will be prosecuted, even if I can’t figure out what it would be. Or maybe Prom is in trouble. I hope not, and I hope that there is something I can do to help him if he is.