by Prairie L. Markussen
after Andy Goldsworthy
He is fascinated by the circle,
birthing it anyplace with nature’s nearest tools.
His circles gape dark in dust, push
webbed mesh of twigs aside to allow
its gravid circumferences to spread, hollow out
snow mounds, only to see them cave
in on themselves, given time.
The circle is everywhere.
Yet it is the erring oval, edges uneven,
the tips pointed, that suit him better. The circle
is nature’s darling, the eye’s easy choice.
The almonded oval is something else.
It is not the moon, not the berry,
not the orange or the sun.
It is the hard, red sand of Mount Victor,
carved, layered—an ever-descending
opening. It is the clay pushed
into the hollow of a south-facing tree in Runnymede.
It is its remoteness
in shadow, its welcome smile
in dappled light.
It is the feathering of red leaves,
like a hemline of lace,
edging the inward-facing bark
in Scaur Water. It is the oval, its hopeful half,
the ragged earth-slash, and not
the circle, that suits him. It shows.
It is evident—he has toyed tenderly with stones,
stuck numb hand between rocks
in creek beds, sought the crevasse
in the glacier, traced the uneven borders
of countries and waters alike along
a yellowing map. The uneven,
and imperfect. Not the yawn of the circle,
but the tattering call, the bright cry,
of the other.
by Prairie L. Markussen
after Water Serpents II by Gustav Klimt
Who is the one looking down
at her, as she tucks into herself
and sleeps? She is shot through
with golden beads: a crown
for slumber. Her shoulder blades
curve like undeveloped wings,
and her chin tilts upward as though
in waiting. Flowers, blue, golden, surround
her. All this color
does not wake her. And a golden
line—a whip? a rope?—lays
along her back, her head.
Has its work been done, or
is it yet to come?
Is this relief or escape?
A feint, perhaps: playing dead
to keep the whip slack,
to unacknowledge that gaze.
by Charlie Hill
"Sleepwalking" by Sean Sullivan
“Right. Let’s get you fixed into the chair. Are the straps tight enough? I know from your article damning test 37 that you’re well aware of the dangers idle hands can cause. Although your tone was quite sensationalist, I will admit that was an unfortunate mess. The price of progress, I suppose.
“We wouldn’t want that for you now, would we? We want you safe and secure, relaxed enough to experience the full extent of what we have to offer at the clinic.”
He is talking at you as he goes about his business. Dr. Gould, as frantic as they all say, dashing between all the other chairs, tweaking this, noting that. His wiry hair makes a halo in the stark lighting of the laboratory.
“Have you experimented with psychedelics before? A man as worldly as you has surely dabbled.”
by Sean Sullivan
Artist's Statement: Sean Sullivan's work is inspired by the feeling of dreaming in the real world, a feeling evoked by artists such as Wong Kar Wai, Haruki Murakami, and David Lynch.
by Sydney Contreras
In my grandmother’s garden, I seek communion with a little girl I no longer know. My grandmother watches with milky eyes, always asking (never remembering the answer, of course.)
I don’t know how to communicate what I am feeling (in English or in Spanish), but I try for her the first time.
No sé, Nana,
pero estoy intentando,
I try my best to smile.
She frowns in confusion and we are both quiet for a moment. Then:
One more time.
Bien, bien, ¿y usted?
Loud enough for her to hear this time.
The grin she is used to comes back—
It almost reaches my eyes.
The questions will keep coming and I will write answers in broken Spanish on a whiteboard I hold up to her from across the room. She cannot hear me speak, so I write and she reads, correcting my grammar when she answers aloud, slowly in simple words.
She is talking to someone else, I know: to the girl I have come here in search of.
I am talking to someone else, too: to the woman who raised me so many years ago, before the edges of her memory started wearing thin.
If she understood the thoughts really running through my head (or if I had the courage to speak them aloud) I wonder, sometimes, what she would make of it all.
I do not know why, but my brain takes me back here each time I falter. Trying to untangle these new knots, I suppose I must look to the furthest end of the thread.
So back to the garden of Eden it is.
(The one that I no longer believe in—that she no longer tends to.)
My grandmother and I watch that young girl skip through the overgrown weeds.
When I stand up to go, my grandmother will continue to stand guard, watching. When she can watch no longer, I fear that the girl will be lost forever.
Artist's Statement: "The poem, "Garden of Eden," is in conversation with the visual piece of the same name (obviously), but both the poem and the visual piece also interact with the Biblical story of the same name as well. There is an attempt to return to innocence that will never be fulfilled. Though there is a certain element of melancholy, there is also the acceptance of the proverbial "fall" and reconciling this as a transition. The image plays off of the stereotypical image of Adam and Eve covering their genitals with fig leaves, instead covering the eyes (sight being true vulnerability) with flowers. I was also quite purposeful in using a lot of strange mediums that weren't necessarily "fine" art to further complicate the piece's relationship to the Bible."
by Jack Christian
Street scene seen in sleep
like an ecstatic state of mourning.
This blurriness we welcome.
No charge to grab or make clean.
Shoes scraping on our walk
we wish the sky well.
Shorthand grown in fog.
So what if buildings occlude the branches
beneath a finance god’s obsessive microscope?
J I A - a spoken word installation for home and for being on foreign land.
each with their unique pain, as much as their uniqueness of being; resonating but never fully understood.
strive to listen, to keep listening, always listening and to hold space for others, for my people, for people of colour, for black and indigenous lives.
MaggZ is a Melbourne-based movement and multidisciplinary artist, who specialises in waacking - a dance style which originated in 1970s LA from the LGBTQ community, predominantly involving arm movements. Traversing amongst dance battles, live performances, installations and interdisciplinary collaborations with other artists, MaggZ aspires to explore the possibilities of art and creativity whilst honouring the unique being of self and others.
By Emily Robinson
"you make me melt" by Silvana Smith
In a land where the ground is woven from wrought iron wire, a gargantuan tarantula protects the town’s prison from its inhabitants: the plastic people.
The plastic people used to breathe in carbon dioxide, like the trees did, too. But then the plastic people died. No one feared that this would happen, because no one thought it could. They were abiotic creatures, after all. It’s funny what some space can do. Abiotic creatures can become biotic ones. Nevertheless, the abiotic people died when the biotic, oxygen-breathing peoples’ minds died, too. When they turned into Zombies, who craved nothing but flesh and brains, people and power. When their cravings went from becoming and became consuming. The plastic people were alive dolls, feeding on aspirations and impossibilities - the hope that made miracles. They were dead now, though. And their plastic bodies were too perfect to rot and become mulch for the trees. Plus there were no trees here, there was no dirt. There was no life, except for the tarantula. And the Tarantula had turned from black to grey, from imposing to a mere image of its past existence. It was fading from the world - and not because it was getting old and dying. No, the tarantula was disappearing. Because no one was there to remember its shadow, and its meaning. No one was afraid of its power. No one craved its power. No one was caught in its web, except for the now-dead plastic people.
The tarantula had been guarding the prison, which was just the world’s mind. The issue no one had predicted was, when a mind is in a prison, it often wants to die until it does, and then it’s just dead. But once it’s dead, everything around it remains. Even its own body. So now the prison held nothing captive, except for the world that was made to guard it. And there was nobody left to do anything about it, because the world had been so bad that everyone alive died, and everything dead stopped mattering. It’s pretty sad, I think. But I’m only thinking that, thinking of any of this, to keep the tarantula on life support. It says it’s not ready to die just yet, it wants us to help it keep breathing, keep living. It hasn’t said goodbye to this world yet. That’s why we keep hoping, fearing, and remembering.
Emily Robinson is a writer based in Los Angeles, CA.
by Meredith DeLong
After Francisco Goya
He would wake to ink-stained fingertips,
The flourish of his signature streaked across the page like ash,
The sleeve of the overcoat worth a week’s wages ruined
By the mistake of a head laid in arms
When the eyelids drooped too far.
He would wake to a tingling foot that slept
More peacefully than he ever did,
To a cramped neck creaking and cracking like
The rickety chair beneath his slumped weight.
He hopes to wake to these nuisances and more
If it means waking at all.
by Olivia Rumsey
The Woman Who Married The Grapefruit // Saudade
There was once a girl. Each day at breakfast she stared upon the grapefruit her grandmother ate whenever she visited. “Oh grandmother, I have never seen anything look so sweet, so appealing as that fruit you eat each day. Please can I try it?” Her grandmother refused. “It might look sweet, but it is sharp and unforgiving on the young tongue. Perhaps when you’re older.” The girl listened but still, she coveted it. She watched her reflection in the mirror behind her grandmother’s head and imagined herself sitting in her place lifting the pink flesh to her mouth. The girl so longed for the taste of it. A taste that didn’t exist as it was conjured up by the girl's imagination. Grapefruits are not for children and yet, as children do, the child grew. Grew into a beautiful young woman. As every story goes, beautiful young women attract suitors. They came from all across the land seeking the hand of the maiden. Every party, dinner and ball she was bombarded by proposals and stares. Those of both lust and jealousy. So persistent were these stares the girl began to shy away. Retract from the parties and dinners and dresses she once dreamed of. Breakfast, as the most intimate and solitary meal of the day, became her favorite. So distressed was she by all this attention, the young woman began to hide even when alone. Even the mirror across from her at the table on those coveted mornings became too much, and she ripped the net curtains from the window, draping the cloth over her head, grasping at any semblance of privacy she could. This was a very lonely way to live, locked away on one’s own. Through the net and lace, the woman had a very limited vision, but inside she was shrouded in the most wonderful glow. So, she lived in there in the excellent light, and then there through the crack, in the fruit bowl, innocuously sat that orange peeled object of her desire. Months had passed since her grandmother’s last visit but still it waited ready for her return. So, in the girl-now-woman, there grew a hunger. Each morning, trying to catch a glimpse between the layers of cloth. Retracting into her hiding when the longing began to pull too strongly at her stomach. One day, years of watching and waiting were too much. In desperation the young woman grabbed the fruit from the bowl, threw back the net curtains she shrouded herself in and devoured the fruit. Her veil caught up in her hair flipped back to reveal her eyes, she drank in the sight as her hands splayed the fruit open. The bitter juices ran down her chin dripping into the fabric of the netting. Splashes of pink blooming across the surface. When she was done, throat stinging, she looked around at the scene she had set. Ripped pink stained fabric. Hair mussed; strands stuck on her sticky face. Hands reddened. A bittersweet taste in her mouth. Finally looking up into the mirror her cheeks were stained red like a blushing bride.
A Mulher Que Se Casou Com a Toranja // Bittersweet
Once upon a time there was a girl. Every day, at breakfast, she looked at the grapefruit that her grandmother ate whenever she visited. “Oh, grandma, I’ve never seen anything as sweet, as attractive as the fruit you eat every day. Can I try?” Her grandmother refused, “It may sound sweet, but it is sharp and unforgiving in the young language. Maybe when you're older." The girl heard it, but still, she lusted after it. She watched her reflection in the mirror behind her grandmother's head and imagined herself sitting in its place with the pink flesh in its mouth. The girl longed to taste it. It existed because it was created by the girl's imagination. Grapefruit is not for children and yet, as children do, the child has grown. It has become a beautiful young woman. As the whole story continues, beautiful young women attract suitors. The land in search of the maiden's hand. At each party, dinner and ball, she was bombarded by proposals and looks. Those of lust and jealousy. So persistent were those looks that the girl started to shy away. Dinners and dresses, she once dreamed of. Breakfast, as the most intimate and lonely meal of the day, became her favorite. You can't live in the morning, so the woman started hiding and hiding. So distressed with all this attention that the young woman started to hide, even when I was alone. Even the mirror in front of her place on the table on those coveted mornings became too much, and she tore the net curtains out of the window, placing the cloth over her head, clinging to any appearance of privacy she could. This was a very lonely way of life, locked up alone. Through the net and income, the woman had a very limited vision, but inside she was enveloped in the most wonderful glow. So, she lived there in the excellent light, and then through the crack, in the fruit bowl, that orange peeled object of desire was innocently sitting. Months have passed since his grandmother's last visit, but he was still waiting for his return. Then, in the girl-now-woman, a hunger grew. Every morning, trying to catch a glimpse between the layers of fabric. Withdrawing into his hiding place when the desire began to pull very hard on his stomach. One day, years of observation and waiting were too much. In desperation, the young woman grabbed the fruit from the bowl, pulled the curtains around it and devoured the fruit. Her veil caught in her hair turned back to reveal her eyes, she drank in the sight while her hands splayed the fruit open. The bitter juice ran down his chin, dripping onto the fabric of the hammock. Splashes of rose blooming on the surface. When she was done, her throat burning, she looked around at the scene she had defined. Torn fabric stained with pink. Disheveled hair: wires stuck to your sticky face. The hands turned red. A bittersweet taste in your mouth. Finally, looking in the mirror, her cheeks were stained red like a flushed bride.
Statement from the Artist
I am an interdisciplinary artist interested in translation, communication and storytelling. I like to think of art as a mode of transportation. In the process of creating, I am often making my own translations between visual work and the written word, using poetics as a tool of communication for things that aren’t so easily expressed.