Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Tina Modotti, Worker's Parade (1926)

As soon as the gate opens people will be rushing in in droves. People with faces askew, unwittingly disclosing their abhorrence of the hustle and bustle of urban life, although, saying one head to another, “we seem to live like that for so long a time we cannot recall the time we truly find peace.” The continuous din of traffic, to the ears of the uncomplaining commuters, is a deafening silence. A train hurtles by and this pervasive film of noise is suddenly impaired- it is then broken into numerous particles, which glide the gloomy heaven about gleefully. As noted by one head, identical to the previous one we just encountered, “the sky today seems greyer.”

I’ve wandered for hours about this lugubrious city, searching in vain a lonely and hollowed-out soul like me onto whom I can unload my woes. Here is an old tavern where a middle-aged individual secretly mixing his drink with his tears, probably weeping for something incidental but irrevocable, or, as seen afar a very modishly-dressed woman is walking resolutely away, an incurable dead love, a doomed romance. Here the woman seems briskly nipping away from a demon that was supposed to vanish years ago, but re-emerges now with the sole intention of retrieving what it had lost. Here a spectral figure lurks around every turn of the corner, stands stock-still at the end of every cul-de-sac. The ghost promises harm for no one, but whoever encounters its lurid presence still runs off in shrieks. Let the young make dramas or noises whenever they want, the aged are reticent and withdrawn and wearying.

There is the street, the shadow, the shambles, the shamefaced sinner who sheds a belated tear of penitence, the pavement, the phantom, the poor that fret in their respective squalor, the people that pay no heed to the growing desolation of the city, the people that forget how to sing or whistle, the people that greet other people with their collars up like wearing masks outside in, the people that are ever-spinning and finding the habitual inertia of a flaneur repugnant.

But the flaneurs are in the history now. As far as I know they all wandered into the very end of their journey and decided, after loafing about for centuries with no particular purpose, that they finally needed to take some respite- a respite, ideally, always taken under the brilliance of sun, and prolongs to the eternity. Out from the station rush the commuters all agog to head to their solitary homes before they can catch a deep breath. The crowd flies past me, who walks determinedly the opposite direction, like the air when, traveling with a school of sweet melodies, tries to scrape pass a narrow O of a mouth. Someone will stop, I am certain, and stare at me with that half-knowing flicker dancing around two grey beads, before I succumb to the Holy Light.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Kazimir Malevich, Morning After a Storm in the Country

They carelessly entered a great forest that seemed to have no path leading out of it. Things they encountered along the way, things they could not name but had the faint knowledge of what possibly could be, were the same kind that recurred in their worst nightmares, in which familiar faces invariably wore the most horrible, inscrutable disguises. The palms that gripped tightly together were already drenched in sweat; occasionally several large beads would escape and form an ephemeral trail on the ground, directing to the destination of the unknown. But the known is always scarier.

The Known is the invisible monster that tugs benignly at your sleeve and entreats you the listen to a music audible through nobody’s but your ears. The music told her to perceive Time which, like an aging tree, will be robbed of every leaf and twig piecemeal, until one day when this thousands years of life is finally reduced to a naked and barren seed, something within it still quivers. If you care to lend your hitherto listless ears to anything staid and lifeless, you will find it whispering back knowledge and wisdom you used to know when your shrilly, wrinkled mess of a flesh is pulled out of a deflated womb. Every baby shrieks as if knowing too much causes him pains.

She assumed that no sooner she would be all alone in this great forest. The hand that grasped so forcibly her every finger would somehow unclasp before long. And so she would be the only presence that moved visibly and ostensibly about, in this labyrinth of towering trees. Her childhood scenes would pass her by hardly perceptibly than the subtle change of the sky when a bird whizzes by. Only fragments of those that failed to infiltrate into her prodigious memory materialized unannounced like the spirits that dwelled in this forest for decades and centuries. She would see them all with eyes showing no glints of feeling or surprise.

Let her play in the forest as long as she desires. She will be the Queen of all living things. Every creature will bow down in capitulation as she flounces by. The forest will change shape, then close in, barring all earthly promises to those who refuse to, or find themselves unable to, dream. The Sun will curtail its visits to this sacred kingdom. Cold breezes will breathe down her neck like a leering stranger pestering his little girl with incessant caresses. Every time she feels alone she will force a nightingale to sing, until the interminable sessions implode its little heart, and little drops of red will create little ripples of flowers on her dress. Humanity fails her but she knows love, and how strenuously she will try to suppress fits of sobs.