There are no facts in art, only interpretations, an endless interplay of different times and individuals. If we dare look long enough, some works can take us on an unpredictable journey through the unknown landscape of our minds, but art as such will forever slip from our grasp, I realise as I proceed through your hermetic world and wonder at the riddles, trapdoors, vanishing points and many-headed perspectives.
I hover like a restless soul in out and of rooms that bring into existence new rooms. It will take lightyears for me to get there, perhaps even longer, before my I meets your you. I want to disappear in the void between frame and image, between my writing self and a painterly you. Unite with every particle in your labyrinthine chaos. See the pictures from within. Slip under the yellow wallpaper’s grief and find the woman who vanished, who turned into something worse than an image – a pattern. Borges. Patterns. Borgesque monsters. All these patterns that do not adhere to the laws of geometry. I proceed slowly and peristaltically while trying to measure the distance between different selves. Astrophysicists measure the distance between stars with trigonometric parallax. Hold up a finger in front of you, close one eye, then the other and open the first. The finger jumps to a different position. Each eye offers a new vantage point.
How many eyes contain your vantage points? How many hostile parries against the light that seeps in? How many breath-taking concepts and associative leaps? Light travels as fast as thought, and my thoughts are now racing in every direction. I am put in motion. I become the couple clinging to one another, portrayed upside down, or is it me seeing them from above? I become the green square. The window. The ear. All this unclear spatiality, stairs and doorways that fuse, like blossoms from a war-ravaged meadow of love-making. Soviet flamingos in a Japanese landscape, the nun rolling a cigarette. The facial architecture of the persona. Home is the face. I am you and you live as long as I see you.
Pillars of light are washed in a shade of ambergris. When I met you the first time, a black strip was hanging above your head, like a glued-on spine, or a curse. Your eyes were dark and empty and your body heavy as though from centuries of revelry. A marquis unclothed. It’s not the emperor who is naked, but the one who points out his nudity. You were sitting in a brown puddle of oil, on a tranquil stair landing, between an alley and an abstract improvisation. Trying to forget the moon-head that turned away, but still seeing the evasive cyclopic eye in a cold November light. You stepped out of the picture and then understood that her celestial body would soon move in other courses. You aimed the light at a woman who resembled another woman. And I put apples in her bowls and the bowls in her hands and asked her to sit still, at the table, like in a painting. Our tableau vivant.
A new woman appears. Who is she? And what is all that blackness doing around her head? Her saliva runs thick, like liquid crystals, when the Rizla paper is rolled. A drop lingers like a black imperial pearl from the paper. She regards the tiny flamingo chick swallowing its mother’s food and the caresses of the father’s beak that become aquatic plants. Love expands the palace of the skull. Even the baby bird’s head will grow, abandon its shape for another. The saint does not burn but float, creating symbioses between all that has been, is and will be. Between the mother, father and child. Between the inevitable separation and the light of all subterranean links that unite us. Everything floats. Not just modernity, nomads, love and identity. One day, you too will float off to a new horizon, another smile. And yet remain.
She dances holographically across a pneumatic pictorial surface. Trying to forget her encounter with death, the evil games. She closes her eyes. Allows herself to be caressed by the rectangle that is approaching her and its hand that stretches its fingers to her face as in a ritual gesture of benediction. The men in her life, framed on a wall, and the new man who pours emptiness on the cracks. His saint’s halo. The holy spirit who never came. She dances as though wanting to give birth to a star over the abyss. As though the spectral rainbow colours enveloping her shield like a secret mosaic of love were the only thing she possessed, as though all she sought was a gesture that would make her collapse in mid-motion.
I now pursue the seraph falling upwards in ecstatic melancholy, far from the violence of history, from the highest gods and what shall come. Noli me tangere. I am about to become a meticulous rendering of the impossible. An emblem that shatters the image from within. A memory of the marrow candy that spilled like two rainbow-filled wine glasses across the table. The stains were exact, as in a mirror, like parts of one and the same source. Now it flows in and out simultaneously. A compass turns itself face up. Another face down. On earth as in heaven. The contents seep out. It is the cracks in us that welcomes the light.
I have suffered for so long that I no longer recall why I am crying. All I have left is your hand that dries my tears now and then, in a banal Sisyphus gesture. They say that those who think of the past look down, while those who think of the future look up. I just look straight ahead, at the mist you left behind. Our past kisses and embraces float like abstract paintings above my head, your red tongue has become a scarlet-red triangle, your body a play of shadows.
A refuge awaits us with its thousand-and-one-nights facades. Pinkish and grey with gigantic portals that gape empty. We glide onward like two asylum-seekers of love in need of a residence permit for eternity. You hold me in your arms as though I were a child. Or am I the one carrying you? Will they let us in? Will anything ever let us in?
Every little thing around us was alive and clamoured “what are we doing here in this sordid, miserable world?” We didn’t hear them at first, for we were too engrossed in ourselves, but when the screams of matter caught up with us, we began to ask what sadist had planted the knowledge of our mortality and the fate awaiting us all.
Walking up or down a staircase becomes pointless when everything has lost its meaning. But instead of rather fussily combing my soul in the right direction, I begin to undress. Undressing and dressing become a passage between different levels of consciousness, you once said long ago. A way of stepping in or out of oneself. I start to move towards the chambers of my heart, sneaking into the blood vessels that take me to the labyrinthine intestines, the urine and faeces, all the way out into the tailbone, and touching the point that once left the animal kingdom behind, the point of transformation for the species. They say that metamorphoses can be fortunate or unfortunate. In unfortunate ones, the original shape seeks to cling on, in the fortunate ones it has disappeared long ago. I make my way back to the universe of the mind, walking with my little peacock tail, begging you for one favour – “Let me see how it ends”.
You reply: “Any good suggestions?” As though I knew, as though it all depended on me. I try to get dressed again, but my clothes have turned into a book spine accordion that sings the titles of books still unwritten. I now encounter hell. The real one. The evasive future. The awareness of all future geniuses I will never meet, all the knowledge I will never possess. The flamingo family appears in the distance as a reminder of life’s small pleasures, home and origin, food and tenderness, that have long since flickered out.
Then I begin to fall, downwards this time. A leg has come off. The only thing holding me together is the impossible pattern and its displaced colours. Realise that my search for patterns has transformed me into a pattern. A monster with two eyes that has stepped out of my skull. I want to land in your face, for that will be a soft landing. Not to crush it, but to live there. I want to live in your mouth. Your heavy eyes that always look away. Your rosy nose and your half-open lips. Be crucified in your face. But you turn away.
I am now lying waiting in the waiting room of eternity, bodiless, with a yellow mosaic running to catch up with me, and turn my head to the shimmer of a borrowed light that spreads its wings across the room and shrouds it like a placid ocean. Gossamer lines move across a white surface that watches over me like a restless omen. I no longer know who I am. Why things turned out this way, but I enjoy the deliverance from all dualities, life and death, up and down. I have become a homunculus, reflecting everything and being nothing. But I have finally succeeded in entering the forbidden room. I am now standing face to face with nothingness, more certain than ever that it will take me light years to get there.
A fictional essay by art critic, author and curator Sinziana Ravini
Translated from Swedish by Gabriella Berggren