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Archive for the ‘Location: Gallery/Museum’ Category

Years have passed and the words you say are not the words you mean but rather the words you read on the information panels in the museum you work in, on the script they gave you once. You tell me about foundlings, what it meant to be abandoned, be the abandoner, to house the abandoned. A mother was so poor that she could only offer a brazil nut shell as a farewell gift, a painter turned to religion, an artist lost her child, I am not the only person who can talk too much. These are things I learn today.

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You are both informal and formal, or one of you is one and the other the other. Mercifully, you acknowledge the humour in this. I’m dressed for this interview, articulate and enthusiastic. Formal or informal tells me I look like her sister-in-law. You are mothers and have young children. It’s snowing and I’m talking about audience engagement, but who will be coming to the gallery when the weather is like this? One of you has inky eyes and the look of a person anxious for the end of something, the process of asking people the same list of questions probably.

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I have bright fingernails and I only notice you because you are all in black. I’m a rainbow, you’re not. I’m swinging my red bag, I’m tying my blue scarf, I’ve snagged my teal tights. Sophie Calle has been asking strangers to decode her romantic failings / flailings. In this crowded vocal room, everyone wonders how they would respond. You stand in front of the Writer. Her interpretation says, Beware all these women gathered together. You have a shirt that buttons to your neck. Already today, I’ve seen three people from my past. I want you to say something new.

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I ask you about the closing time of the gallery  and because I call it this rather than museum, collection, or exhibition, I hesitate before finishing my sentence. You don’t know quite what I’m asking. You look up from your book, not with your head but with your eyelids. My big sister is small beside me and even though I talk to you, I’m really mocking her or me. Too much art gives her a headache, so we find our own entertainment: how I misjudge corners, her ugly twin fascination and taking identical steps up and down the spiral staircase.

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Latte, espresso, cappuccino. Helpfulness is next to godliness. Friendliness is akin to kindness. Cleanliness and white walls is much like peace. I came here to be alone with strangers and to type. You catch my eye, bring me things, realign the curtains and give me two passes when I ask for just one. You’re younger than me, have dark eyes. At every other table, a woman holds her baby. The husbands wear black-rimmed glasses and have booming voices. You talk to them all. Here, I won’t ask for coffee because I’m too aware of my fertility levels. Redbush, peppermint, camomile.

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Your hair falls in the same way mine does, over one shoulder, uneven ends trailing down your chest. You’re roughly a head taller than me but that might be your shoes. A name like yours is unnatural shortened but still, you have chosen this label that trips me up. It’s too immediately familiar. You speak about a new opportunity, not with wistfulness but restlessness. It’ll tie you down and you want absolute freedom. In you, there is a bright glowing place. I’d like to see you stand upright, holding a cigarette upright between angled fingers, hair piled on your head.

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