zondag 23 november 2008

Just Before Dawn

Just Before Dawn

Sitting on the slushy gate 70 of Brussels Airport the city attempts to snow yet isn’t quite making it to create the backdrop of a disastrous America aeroplane disaster movie as we await the de - icing machine (which I very much doubt receives many invitations to birthdays or weddings) I get a chance to get up to date. Some have asked why my blog stopped after day one with the Quintis so now I can clear the air. It was by no means the case (as some have suggested) that a strict code of conduct had to be followed or that I had nothing to say and was bored but quite the contrary I however ran into a problem there. I like to call it the JTC. For those of you who are not aware of the so called, “Japanese Tourist Complex”, it is the affliction of being unable to live in the now experiencing the world through our own eyes and ears. It is the need to record every moment just as an image or reference and in the process no longer experience the adventure, meekly becoming a virtual visitor in your own unlived life. Of course this disease is suffered today by countless millions of tourists and with the invention of the digital world everything is just happening on the screen. When you look at party pictures on Facebook notice how the night out revolves round the camera or cameras. The events have their own malign director of intent and encourage more self manifestation of, “Look I’m having a cracking time, I’m happy... look we are all really”!

I didn’t get much sleep and it wasn’t because I quit smoking for the project. It wasn’t because I was out partying in the Irish bar which is hell with six flat-screens, a projector and as much craic as being a blind man at a peep show. No this sleeplessness came from the complete inability to turn off my central processor, to say right now is the point you stop thinking. Yes of course I tried a beer, Baldrian, counting the spots on the ceiling (there were thirty-two) but none of this helped and the New Model Army song kept running through my head at various speeds. I also had guilt ridden visions that crawled from the drains of my past right up the surface of my porous frontal lobe . In our research for, “du circuit du plaisir”, we established guilt as a major factor in the addiction to misery and seven steps to unhappiness. I suppose that by Tuesday afternoon I had taken that on board my hard drive and not really noticed so that evening the waking nightmares started. I’m not going to go into too much detail but imagine everyone you ever wronged queuing up to accuse you in a small room lit only by the orange Sodium reflections of a street lamp on the ceiling as comfort. You are in a cold sweat, your heart is thumping like a fucked clock and you know you are alone with this. Sleep will not come, she will not stroke your head and you are well and truly on your own. It doesn’t matter that there is a church just across the road or that you could maybe call someone if your phone card holds out more than fifty seconds. You can’t run you can’t hide you are going to have to go through this. Then you want to vomit even your guts are losing the plot. It’s true the darkest hour is just before dawn you reassure yourself.

10:00 is go time in Quinti HQ. The three don’t wear parachutes and leave their egos on the steps at the front entrance. Names mean little and reputations even less. For the first time in a long time I remembered that there is really nothing that you won’t be able to survive without if you lost it except the opportunity to live. Work begins and the days of the week lose their form and each night I can’t sleep but our project is working. I can’t have everything. I’m dancing.

Friday afternoon arrives and it’s all last minute as it always is and then the real hard drive goes down and now the sweat is on me. I’m the only one freaking mind you. The Quinti’s assure me we do what we do and if we don’t we don’t. I suppose that is the beauty of their freedom, the work doesn’t suffer in principle and the result is, ‘this is what we did in forty hours’. The doors open as the last of the display goes up and we climb into our box and the hatch is sealed. An exhibition about addiction opens. The boards are arranged in the shape of an Endorphin molecule, at the head four men in a wooden box lit from above with a beamer. There are seven holes people can watch us through with smoke coming out the top. There are screens people can watch through the holes, a series of orgasms on one, other people’s eyes looking through a hole at the other end of the box a series of information madness media cuts on the big screen. People read a whole series of print outs on the boards about various addictions, happiness and wealth, sugar, teddy bears and as they do so they are confronted by the seven steps to unhappiness. The finale is after 38 minutes, ‘ No Rest ‘, from New Model Army booms out and we dance mechanically maniacally as madmen would and thump on the wooden floor in our prison. Some loons outside try to kick the door in but are prevented, there is nearly a Wizard of Oz moment. When the song is over we put the beamer out and sit and wait. We feel a little like spacemen returning, splashdown then the terrible wait for the pick up ship and someone to get us out. Worse than the beer is gone. We wait and wait but the audience won’t leave. Eventually the bolts are removed and we step out to a, ‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’, type of scene. We walk briskly to the changing room, office, work room and dining table for the last five days and pack our things to applause, we don’t stop to take any with us or bow or wave. Computers are packed, cables bundled and clothes changed... off to the theater bar around the corner for food and goodbye.

So what was that all about? Why have I spent the last five days with little sleep brain dancing, memory moshing, head hopping and all the rest. Do I yearn for the recognition of strangers, the standing ovation or should this make my parents proud?

It’s Saturday afternoon. I’m in a big Aluminium box 5000m in the sky, the door is sealed. The sky is unspeakably blue for an hour and I am sipping Ribena despicably happy. I have new friends, people I click and tick with and I’m not wondering any more, I don’t need to know because I am indeed knowing the joy of knowing that knowing is going... going for joy... that’s enough.

maandag 17 november 2008

New Model Army

Addiction is the topic of the Blind Date I have embarked upon with the members of Quinti Quinti.


We talked about Facebook, Electricity, knowing and guilt this afternoon amongst many other things. Then it just happened on my walk home from the studio. I heard a ancient echo, a song from back, 'then'. Twenty years ago when I first rebelled, broke my own sorrowful little mold and thought process I had walked out of my head to this tune. It was called, 'No Rest', from New Model Army. I remember feeling very guilty listening to it and was not long after that my father destroyed my entire record collection leaving me only Pieter Gabrail's, 'Boy In The Bubble'. As a result I can't sleep and even if I could it would be an uncomfortable one. The lyrics of that 1980's New Model Army song keep racing through my mind at a rather disturbing pace. They go something like this...

4 O'clock in the morning,
still we cannot sleep
turning over
turning round
twisting in our sweat
they say there is no rest for the wicked ones
dear god - what have we done?
there is no rest for the wicked ones
dear god - what is this evil that we've done??
there is no rest for the wicked ones
dear god - what is this evil that we've done??

Is it that we wanted more than you gave
why did you put us then
in this smalltown grave
humility - is that what you want?
why did you make us then the way you did??
yes,we have pride
yes,we have pride -
is this our sin?
is this our sin?!

4 O'clock...

Is it the times that we've been out fighting?
well i'll tell you all those times -
we never really hurt anybody
or is it that we were eating
while other people were starving
is this our crime?
is this our crime??!

4 O'clock...

Is it the times we laughed about it all
through all those whisky nights so far away
yes,we have betrayed you
yes,we have betrayed you -
is this our crime?
is this our crime?!

4 O'clock.

What a difference a day makes.

zondag 16 november 2008

Quinti Quinti

It is Sunday evening and after a day of reading the Times, listening to war poetry on Radio 4, Pick Of The Week and being slightly less interested in Liverpool's progress yesterday than I normally would... it is time to take in the streets of Brussels once again. 

Sometimes I really distinctly dislike this place on days like his and it is not only due to my fear of French and invisible rain that soaks through when you are not paying attention. It may be the thousands of tourists clogging the streets or the sense that this city is still as odd to me as the first day I set foot here five years ago. There is no familiar feel to one street or the next but that may just be me. I attempt to find a particular destination and can't get my head round the map, each place having two names or none at all. I love my hotel room and the hospitality but there is something lurking in the techno heart of Brussels that makes me question it's heart.

Sitting outside the chipshop last night I heard two young people complaining that they were artists and wondering what it would be like to have a 9-5 job so they knew when the work was over and really over for the day. I interrupted as one would expect me to do and explained that people in a 9-5 job just can't switch off when they go home either. They eat chips, complain about the boss and watch mind numbing, 'reality', TV shows or midweek UEFA Cup clashes on frozen winter shit pitches in Lativa.  This inconsequential nonsense is what we call life.

I was invited to the church that is my alarm clock today but avoided the aftermath of meeting local christian artists from the area over breakfast. It was nothing to do with them being christian, artists or locals, rather I have talked my head off for the last week and want a chance to listen to my own thoughts for a change. I have so much in my head for Quinti Quinti tomorrow but little idea of what to expect from their reality and it is a very heady one indeed. I am wondering if everyone there has huge Jimmy Hill type chins from much over-scratching. 

Of course I am very open and brimming with optimism but this is the first time I take on such a task. Working with willfull artists/armchair politicians and philosophers who perhaps have no wish to be directed or realised in any shape or form will take a lot of energy and concentration. Quinty Quinty work 10-5 round a small wooden table for some reason and I have never done that before. Perhaps it's a piece of lucky furniture or their producer locks them in there. My main aim right now is to get a grip on where they are and then throw that out the window if necessary. Launch a rescue attempt or assualt? It appears to me that the project is more about process rather than progress which perhaps I can learn from if I slow down for five minutes. I will go with the notion of shaping clouds of unknowing using my new secret weapons, 'counterintution', and the selfish genes. 

I look forward to tomorrow with a certain amount of honest apprehension yet a sure, secured belief, quizzical fascination and the new pinstripe jacket gifted to me by Mr. Oshea. It's designed by 'Angelo Litrico'. Apparently he dressed Kennedy, Tito, Eisenhower and Nikita Chrushchev. The last time Mr. Oshea gave a jacket away it was to M. E. Smith of, 'The Fall'. Well that's a good start to a new week.