I was standing up above a crowd of people
I was standing up above a crowd of people, behind them, on a small platform as though I was on a DJ or lighting platform. I think they were organising a party or rehearsing something and I was distanced from it, wondering if I shouldn’t join in, not wanting to but feeling like I should want to. I was in a panda suit and pregnant. Then I remember looking through a pile of my own clothes as if at a jumble sale. No, just slowly looking through them affectionately, not trying to decide anything. Next I remember I bitchily said to a still-pretty Chinese prostitute dressed in a lot of fake gold, “Oh yeah, and look at you strutting around with your a-gent” (I pronounced this with a soft g like the French). Then, because it was my birthday and, with a group of friends, I walked into a large round wooden-floored cafe, designed in the forties by the looks to catch the light. Jonny Bywater and I approached the counter and the people waiting cleared away as Dylan talked loudly at me from behind it where_ he was working. He knew it was my birthday and had been expecting me and instead of serving his nexts he started to chatter away loudly to me. Everyone turned around to look as if I was glowing a funny colour or something. Jonny said under his breath that he had never seen anything like it, but then must have decided that I was being rude, so he put his arms around my waist from behind and pulled me back. I had already seen what cake I wanted to order (a tall dark chocolate cake with some sort of glossy dark currant glaze filling) so I went around to the other side of the serving area and waited. And I waited. All the counter staff had left except one and I was the only one waiting. I recognised him as Danny Morrison, not the cricketer, but a peripheral person to this group of boys I used to hang around with when I was seventeen. He looked straight at me with a gross expression like how a vampire’s face suddenly distorts and becomes monstrous with fangs, and he simulated wanking an enormous cock like a devil and spun on his heel and bent over and waggled his ass at me and continued with his crazy demonic expressions. I reeled backwards horrified and grabbed for the nearest thing to throw at him which turned out to be a heavy half-full coffee cup. Don’t know if it connected but he ran off. Violet came running over and breathily sympathised and excitedly asked other people “did you see that?” Now it was time for Malcolm’s performance she told me. On the expanse of the floor, late in the afternoon, he began to dance in this odd interpretive dance style with many expressive womanish arm movements. I raised my eyebrows quizzically in shock and rolled my eyes to myself as I think I might have felt embarrassed for him. My heart was still racing a little. The only thing that differentiated Malcolm’s dancing from the modern ballet sort was these unpretty little exclamations he would make periodically in a Tourettesy or martial arts sort of a way. Then, a long jerrybuilt curtain fell behind him and Violet turned to me to say that she had made it, however this was entirely obvious. It was made from sections of op shop material cobbled together in thick layers. A loud metal zip sounded from the other side and he entered. From behind, as the music continued (the sort of music that one would spin to with arms out), I heard Violet moan. I considered her swift reaction to what Danny did and I wondered if maybe she gets turned on by being folded the wrong way like box cardboard bent against the way it is scored. Later, she sat down next to me on a couch holding a tray like the one I use for tea, in the manner of someone who is timid, like as if from behind a fan, but with no coquettishness. I firmly but gently took it away from her and set it aside saying, “I’ll take that”. Then, strangely, I had to walk down my own belly between two rows of plain silver dressmaking pins that formed an almost too-narrow avenue. I complained about the especially narrow bit in the middle and squeezed through and could feel the pins moving in my skin sharply. It was like the magical boat channel I dreamed of a night earlier, but it had become a toll bridge.
I remember an art review headline that said “Blobs and Brillopads”. There was a picture of an installation that involved large blobs although I can’t remember what colour, and these bed-size pads of wire wool. The elements clearly represented vegetation and everyone could see that and also canapes. I then remember bragging that “I could cope with that like a two-way car paintjob”. Then Layla and I were looking at a series of six framed architectural photographs about sixteen by twelve portrait format. They represented the edges of walls like where you would stand if you wanted to peek around to see if the person you are tracking or hiding from is coming.
I was at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (or was I looking at a well-illustrated catalogue?) and there was a Tony de Lautour show on. The work was like large sculptural versions of his ‘alteration’ paintings where heraldic figures are put onto landscapes, but in this case they were just introduced into the gallery. I remember a huge drawing in space of his two kiwis fighting rendered in black, and then something similar on the ground composed of squares as if the image was pixellated in red and blue. There were huge suspended Lego globes, planets really, one red, and smaller kids’ space pleasure crafts hanging too, which later I realised were by someone else.
Last night I dreamed that I had been seconded to work for what I think was Lincoln University’s art collection and acquisitions and artist in residency programme. It appeared I had no car and was dependent on rides with an academic called Scud. The present artist in residence was Michael Morley and I remember waiting in a hotel room that was kept for the residing artists. Dan was there waiting with me and we stood in the bathroom doorway laughing about the university’s lack of interest in the whole art programme and suggesting that they should pack it in and de-access the collection to academic offices and the erotic works to the hotel rooms kept by academics to molest students in for A’s. Dan said “I can’t talk as I always got my A’s phoned through”. We thought that this would work even if they only kept rooms part-time when they thought they were onto some tail. Later, waiting with Michael and two other women I was close to somehow but were unspecified. Michael was in bed asleep and we were very tired and the three of us got into bed with him and snuggled up like with Paul Stanley in the Decline of Western Civilization, Part II. Everyone else was asleep and I was watching TV, a soap opera that seemed to be starring my colleagues. Dialogue explained that “his name was Scud after he was Eileen”. A pretty blonde woman with straight platinum blonde hair (shades of Three’s Company) was on a bed with a man and a woman. They were playfully teasing him. The blonde kneeling beside him as he lay on his back went to pin him down by putting her knee the other side of his chest. But instead of just doing that, she lifted her knee high and showed the camera that she wore no underwear and held her knee up there and spread her lips and I could see that she was rosy pink and very wet. Someone said, when I asked (of Dan), “Your silhouette was like a tall thin penis-like sitting cat”. Egyptian? I thought. Then “She rises with the tide of the moon”.
I woke this morning feeling a bit taken aback as I had made a list of people Dan might draw on for referees (Chris Chapman, Jon Bywater, Sean Kerr, Terrence, Russell Storer, Dane, Julaine, warren, and when I went to read it to him it was a list of crappy bars in Christchurch.
I was walking up a hill with Ani and Yuk King. We were walking under these grubby pohutukawa by a very busy road and I picked up a stick for Grace that was long and branchy and had clumps of dried green lichen and pink stringy stuff tangled in it. Ani grabbed it off me demanding “I want a photo! I want a photo!” and Grace ran across the road to the other side through all the traffic. I followed, dodging cars so that she would not cross back and get squashed. When I got us both back to the other side, they had gone. Later there was an enormous after-opening dinner party going on for some fancypants art event. All these art people were there and all these family people too that I did not know. There were a lot of kids and even a few dogs. I was running around doing everything in a pretty happy, or maybe more politely resigned way and finally sat down to eat at any old table, with a group of children which suited me. The TV in the corner had on it an ad involving tall pretty children, about eight, very affluent, kind of Versace enfants or something, dressed in these amazing photo-print Lycra leggings with foot stirrups. Some were pulling on tennis t-shirts, others were pulling the tights up over bare bottoms, all laughing and playing, building sand castles at the beach. One blonde girl was explaining what they do for fun in the clothes. A sound bite had her looking pensive and going “…and we go to openings…” There was a text message on my cellphone from David Watson asking me to call him in Iran. I didn’t know whether to call or whether just to walk out and never come back.
I was working in an art gallery with John as my director again and he was involved in “staging” this ridiculously expensive poorly-conceived minimalist light work as part of an over-blown refit of the gallery shop. I was standing in the corridor outside which contained these huge square-based, eight-foot tall antique museum cases all butted together and washed with white light from the inside. Some sort of Culbert-looking deal. What John had been hurriedly working on involved this huge windowless gallery that faced north and was square and a cul-de-sac. At one end was this whole-wall concertina-ed arrangement of bright white light planes. As I entered the space I was momentarily blinded by this swell of electrical light which seemed to subside after a second or two. It looked ridiculous as a backdrop to what was a shop. I suggested that he move the store somewhere else but my voice sort of trailed off as I didn’t think much of the work either.
I had been getting ready to go on stage in a variety show in which I was to perform, at about ten minutes’ notice, country music with Ralph Paine. We had no songs and no lyrics. Outside the hall I was still in togs so I asked this small pretty woman who was stage manager if I could have the dressing gown she was wearing. She laughed and opened it and showed me that she only had togs underneath too! Laughing, I checked with Ralph to see if we had any songs or lyrics yet and he said no, so I turned to her and said sorry we can’t go on. It was all very good-natured. Back at the bar, Layla was telling me that Angus had been helping her shift the fridge and was still laying it on very thick. He kept making rude sentences with fridge magnets. He seemed to be trying to make her jealous. She showed me a picture of her, him and Pipolotti Rist all on bar stools. Rist is glowering and Angus is looking full-on and Layla is happily taking a sip out of her glass. Rist has her legs over their laps in some sort of weird inclusive territorial gesture.
Judy and Grant were in their bedroom and we were all hanging out at their house – or was it just me? The room I was in was to the east of theirs and was connected to it by a large sliding door that was open. Judy was dressed in burlesque lingerie and had surprisingly great legs and very narrow hips. She was wearing red thick sparkly tap undies and a tuxedo-ish top. She made for the bed and lay down and did some comic come-hither things. Grant was in trackies and jumped on to the bed beside her. He kept going further onto his head and forward some more until his body was bent over the top and he lay there happily and lovingly contorted. Maybe they didn’t know I was there. Maybe I was just a fly on the wall?
Dan and I were driving down what looked like Ilam Road towards Riccarton Road. We had just left something and were slowly accelerating down the road when I spied a cluster of new bald two-storeyed townhouses. They lined the right-hand side of a throughfare and at the end was one that had a large sign above its garage that said “Eddie Clemens/Total Behemoth.” “That’ll be Eddie’s new house,” Dan said. Then I was dressed in a dark incredibly fashionable gothic manner with dark severe makeup and walking down Cashel Street from work to meet up with Hamish and Yuk King at something that looked like a slick dark new bar where Plume is. I was dressed in this way for some important reason as if it was vital for something I was achieving privately. They were a bit taken aback, but I knew they would understand once I explained.
Anna Miles was going “Why can’t God, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…” angrily, imploringly, “Why????”. I remember Dan getting brassed off with the way houses were being sold. It involved buyer and vendor nudity in different degrees – some people had pants, others no. “I don’t like it, they don’t like it, but we have to do it?” he wailed. The ads in the paper were just lists of nonsensical words like waterfalls.
In my dream, Yuk King gave us a cat-sized robot that was designed to, when you left the room, put things away. Except that it was programmed by her to recognise art and to not disturb it. So whenever it came across ‘significant form’ within mess it would leave it.
I picked up the telephone and there was some sort of interference and crossed line. Someone on the other end said, “Is that you Gwyn?” I said yes and Mary-Louise Browne identified herself and admitted that she had been using our phoneline. I just signed off quickly and hung up.
A Chinese cooking show host during his show says it is a tried and true thing that if you add tuna fish oil to the clitoris you will come. A liquid is added to mine that has fine black strands in it and I touch myself again through my clothes and I start to come. A subtitle comes on to the screen promoting the play we are all in which ends. “Join Cuckoo. Cuckoo recognises that her pornography assets make her.”
I decided to run from the prison charge, and ended up driving to where Adam Cullen was working. I found his place of work, a restaurant where he was a waiter, Italian or Greek or something. I was not initially sure if it was the right place as it was in a very long row of places along a wharf, but then saw its number -three digits followed by another three and thought this must be the place. Then he came out, looking older and uglier and wearing sunglasses. As soon as he saw me he drew in his breath and said I was still beautiful, and “let me look at you”. I hugged him and wanted to say I was in love with another but he kissed me and I said nothing as I had already committed an infidelity. Then I asked him the address of the place and he had no idea and could not answer other simple things I realised how out-of-it he was with his speech fading in and out. I saw a glimpse of his eyes behind and they were so fucked up. He was speaking with a slight Mediterranean accent too which was a worry. I called him on it and he glared at me. He said it was knock-off time. He got his dog Growler, and I said God I must go and get my black labrador. She was in my car for ages in the main street of this Australian town. I remember deciding to make a new start alone. I remember too the waiter saying Carrie “Fisher” had come to the restaurant saying Adam would never be back.
I remember trying to screenprint something, a picture of a speedlab, and not really knowing what I was doing and looking for help from others. Violet and Saskia knew what they were doing but neither offered help.
I was given the responsibility of editing an academic magazine. I am looking at back issues and I realised I had not even looked at past issues as there were things in there I had never seen before seemingly. There was an article on Simon Ingram but it was some guy I have never seen before and that name was news to me. The title of the article was his name with a couple of extra letters in each word. Then he was there himself saying that he lived in the central north island and that it is a travesty that airfares are not free for artists as he was travelling to LA all the time. He is with China Arts you know someone else said. I looked at a picture of a work that was huge mats of seitan (the wheatbased protein) that covered the entire face of a grassy hill. Staggering.
Someone was sending books of Duchamp texts along a curtain track kind of affair very fast to their destruction. This was worrying me.
The phrase “white moth” was raised, a potential title, the chorus said, indicating transformation. It was in a continuation that went to a celebratory dish made from human earlobes, clipped off and seared in a very hot pan and finished with fresh cream. The lobe-less look might even become fashionable, a sign of success to have eaten one’s own lobes. Then there was a group of thrill-seeking young men who were sort of bFM-ish driving an Alpha Romeo, red, slightly newer than Eddie’s. Bigger and gruntier. One of them was demonstrating its speed at night up a hill from a spare wood or maybe a riverbed. As it took off, the driver recounted that George Hubbard had decided that these cars were perfect for witch-hunts. They took the hill amazingly fast and, without stopping, the turn at the top at huge risk to life. I thought of the hot engine block – hot enough to sear earlobes?
Dan and I had things or a thing covered in tinfoil and the logical outcome of this was that we had a substance which meant we should start a jazz school. We got people to come and teach, e.g. Daniel Malone, by the session with cheques of $100 or so.
I had been appointed, seemingly as overnight, to the directorship of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery. I was gratified but very nervous at my ability to pull it off. Unfortunately there were two unruly curators beneath me of the three or four total. These two, Peter Entwisle and Wystan Curnow, were very indignant that an upstart like me was to be the boss. Our first task was to produce an exhibition for patrons to guide support of the programmes and exhibitions. I wanted to shake things up. I wanted one of the galleries’ floors changed to the glossy white of the Camden for installation. Unfortunately out came the proposals from Andrew Drumond et al. I politely suggested we keep looking. The two curators turned in text drafts that were overtly intended to disrespect me to my face. One bit read “Lynne Gwy… whatsername”. I decided to just drive on over them. After all I am the boss. Underneath, however, cracks were showing. It was a hospital as well as a gallery, and I knew nothing about patient care. In my office I did about sixteen hours of paperwork and realised I had not been out to see a single patient. Surely this is awful negligence. I thought it was really not my job probably, and let myself off the hook. I decided to go into an operating theatre and thought it needed a bit of a tidy-up. I tidied busily and neurotically and found flasks of watereddown whiskey which everybody drank to get through long days. Parishioners were given it too, so I had several belts. I also helped myself to a fine fit of morphine. I thought it would be the only way of getting through this job. I had made a mistake, but there was no going back now. Luckily I had home taken care of as I had a wife to cook, clean etc.
Charlotte decided she was going to get out by getting a scholarship. So she did, to UCLA. I visited her there, and she was very happy and skipping down an isle in the library. I was looking at books that had been left flat on the shelves by readers, and one of them was a Semiotext(e) book containing work by Charlotte. There was a contributors’ page that had been changed by funsters. The photos had been pasted over with other pictures. Over Charlotte’s was pasted a picture of a darty-eyed nineteen-twenties criminal. Over another was pasted a dragon.
I was standing in Giovanni’s bedroom after he died. It was a very nice gentlemen’s bedroom and I was standing in front of the wardrobe. I saw all the ties hanging in the foreground of a deep semi-emptyish space. They all had scant clothes and gold-chained accessories on their upper bodies like show-girls, but it wasn’t as if people were looking at their upper bodies or faces as their asses were bare. They were moving musically, slowly, leaning against a high bench, spreading their legs apart and then back together every now and again independently of each other, sometimes raising their legs to display their fine pink flowery pussies. (Like The Dinner Party with more acid?) At that time the crowd, besides me, included a group of young men like off a building site. They were surprised and more taken-aback than excited. They didn’t stay to watch but kept moving at the same slow rate as everyone else in the place.
Dan and I were visiting Dane, or Tana, in a new small house next to a leafy suburban green-belt hill. It was one-storeyed and slightly overgrown and sat back from the street a bit behind a tall fence. Standing in the street Dane was telling us that on the hill was a community swimming pool, and indeed we could hear splashing and playing. In my mind’s eye I saw a rectangular pool in sunny weather in a grassy clearing aligned east-west with a pavilion at the east and columns about it as if it had been a crazy Hollywood recluse’s pool. Standing by our cars, it began to rain thickly and finely and Dane ran across the road to Tana’s two outside lounge chairs -black tubular things with red/ fiery geometric patterned cushions. They were getting wet but were possibly waterproof. He was making haste to tie the chairs to the pulled-down weeping branches of the bare winter tree they sat beneath so the drips would not go – where? Parked car? Footpath? I trusted that it was something important and that he knew what he was doing.
Dan and I were working on some sort of utopic art project called “Greater Auckland”.
Allan Smith sent me a parcel in the mail. We had been working on some writing project together. It was a smooth terracotta-ish manilla A4 envelope that opened at the shorter side, and was completely inflated, almost shark’s purse-like in plumpness, football-like in dimensions. It was very light and I guessed it contained something like a single sheet of paper – we had been working on some sort of writing project together. I opened it and found that it was empty and my heart sank as I realized that it was an artwork and I had ruined it. I couldn’t tell him, I thought, as me opening it had demonstrated that I had not appreciated it in its original form enough to not open and ruin it. And I couldn’t repair it as it had collapsed and wouldn’t re-inflate. Grant said, when I told him about it, that it was about an obsession with content.