The Muck of Language
Second in a series of responses to Edinburgh Art Festival, Tessa Berring offers reflections on 'You hardboiled I softboiled' at Rhubaba Gallery and Studios, featuring contributions from Jessica Yu, Sam Riviere, Valerie Norris, Rosalind Nashashibi, Masha Tupitsyn and Claire Walsh, 28 July - 27 August
“Every soul has its path, but sometimes that path is not clear. The acorn theory is an example of each soul beginning with an imprint...” (From Lost in Translation, Sophia Coppola, 2003)
Wake up says the lover to the lover, there is music for intelligent ladies and not a single mosquito.
The lover looks away, she wraps the car in a blanket. She wants to die, so many times.
Between one thing and another thing lies a space. The space between two lovers, between a writer and a reader, between seeing and not seeing, privacy and performance...
How does one negotiate the space that lies between?
“I can deliberately mould my message, not my voice” (Roland Barthes, A lovers Discourse: fragments 1977)
It is a very particular experience visiting an exhibition you have been asked to review. You visit not just to absorb the experience for personal interest and pleasure, but also to find ways to transpose it into a narrative for someone else. You walk around with questions. Which words will I choose to describe what I am seeing? How will I communicate the sensation of being here? How am I going to write this down?
“So, we're here to talk about how things are made, just, you know, there are so many things in the world...” (Miranda July, How to Make a Button, 2008)
Loves me, loves me not, loves me, loves (in your dream) me not. Or was that my dream of your dream?... Or my lover thinking about another lover, a past love, a future love, the anxiety of loving?
On a chair is a woman whose eyes avoid the camera. There are noises and people walking by, looking or not looking at the camera. In the window is the memory of ‘they have reached a sensitive point in their correspondence, it is not ready’, and on the table is sleep, and the ready-made autobiography.
Words disguise us, words are like skin. What is seeing clearly like? Seeing clearly is like staying and deciding to go at exactly the same time. We are singing karaoke in a trap. Please stop watching, no, please stop looking away.
“And in his dream, I wanted to risk it, I thought it was worth the risk but he he was afraid to die to die to die to die to die to die to die to die to die to die to die...” (Jessica Yu, pamphlet 1, Rhubaba Gallery and Studios)
I discover that I am a traced line and that love is a scene in waiting. Maybe it's waiting for me, or maybe I'll read another book. You know, throw myself around, all phenomenal or something.
“This was a fantasy whose content was the dismantling of another pre existing fantasy—what else was the life that my wife and I had created together but a kind of mutual fantasy that we continued to invest in”. (Sam Riviere, pamphlet 1, Rhubaba Gallery and Studios)
Valerie Norris' paintings are paintings created over the surface of already existing or 'found' paintings. What was there first? Is that a piece of field? What's new? The one I like best is ‘and, bedroom furniture’, displayed such that the 'original' string for hanging the picture dangles down one side of the frame. This is a picture expressing its former existence as another picture.
“To try to write love is to confront the muck of language” (Roland Barthes, Ibid)
In the dream story Jessica and her boyfriend are too tired to have sex. Later in the dream they don't have sex because of mosquitoes and the risk of catching a virus. Another time it is because the boyfriend's parents come home. Jessica wants to risk having sex in the dream, but in the end she wakes her boyfriend just at the moment this becomes possible (in the dream). The dream rejects sexual intercourse at every turn. What, Jessica's boyfriend, are you afraid of? What don't you want to, or can't, say?
“I am interested in going between things being staged and things just being. I like the possibility of crossing between the two” (Rosalind Nashashibi, 2009)
Suminagashi or 'ink floating', is the ancient Japanese printing method of dropping ink onto a pool of still water. Patterns are created both by blowing across, or by gently puncturing, the surface.
Tessa Berring is an artist and writer based in Edinburgh