Three events in little lives coincide on one day while I’m writing this advice to the young artists by straightening my thoughts, in an attempt to say something about the apparently insignificant, how significant it is.
Is all this BIG enough? Is it BIG advice? BIG is this decennium’s convoluted superlative, so I ignore the terminology and shift the attention reserved for advice to the personal realm of the observation, of taking notice, of perception. Over the years, I’ve discovered this as the place of potential and that is exactly what I want to say: seemingly small events become (a) work all by themselves.
Placed in front of me is a photograph of a doorman in Naples, I call him Raphael, he is the personification of a new project. Raphael is mentally challenged to a certain extent and he has a job letting visitors enter the tour of the Greek Neapolis, located beneath the old city centre. A year ago, I was one of the people passing him by. I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary when I entered, but the small out-of-sync and quirky movements betrayed his state of mind. The observation about dignity that has been occupying me for a while now, goes as follows:
A nondescript door takes me from a common Italian alley to the depths of history. This door is opened by Raphael who guides me inside with his piercing ‘must-perform-this-task-well’ look in his eyes and continues to stare through the crack of the door with his body slightly bent for just a little too long after the last visitor has entered. He presses his cheeks between door and frame, then he steps back, closes the door a little further and watches with one eye only, briefly sticking out his nose to sniff the smells of the street, until he carefully retreats to shut the door completely. He turns around and sees nobody there. By closing the door he has fulfilled his task and now he rests his arms on the sideboard with its marble top, nodding to a red plastic coat hanger he’s holding in his hands while he plays with it. I take a photograph.
Eight klonkies are performing a play for voices directed by Keto Stiefcommando is the subtitle of Daedalea, a poetry book by Tomas Lieske. The African klonkies with their resounding names like Mosje, Merci Merci and Imker Graad to mention just three, live on the streets of Paris. Lieske lets them talk in his little yellow book, an outlandish text that makes a connection to the busy men and their merchandise, miraculous metropolitan lives.
I tumble into this unfamiliar way of observing and writing. Tracing the playful trains of thoughts that profoundly touch ones own existence also, I could introduce myself and two colleagues:
THEY DANCE A MEXICAN SUNDAY
A new phrase takes shape in capitals, a new work perhaps, where aesthetics can be found in laughter, not in physical perfection. Searching for Charles Bukowski’s post office in Los Angeles that turns out to be closed, I find myself in a square filled with dancing Mexicans who do not stir themselves for the beauty of the movement but for the sensation of bonding, of fun. They share the salsa.
Advice to the young artist #18, Karin van Pinxteren, 28 October, 2018, published in Witte Rook