LONDON | Photomonitor Essay

Photomonitor is an online magazine that focuses on artists using lens-based media in the UK and Ireland, reaching readers in more than 120 countries around the world. Providing centralised information about exhibitions in galleries and institutions throughout England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, Photomonitor’s online listings and reviews are the foundation of tomorrow’s archive of photographic exhibition history in the UK and Ireland.

I am happy that my work is now listed in the essay section of the platform, presenting a new partially rewritten excerpt from my favourite Essay by Robert Cook, Curator of Contemporary International Art, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth. First published in ArtLink, 29:3, September 2009.

photomonitor

Speed of Dark 

 

Boris Eldagsen must die (in a river, fire, cellar, forest, lake, in motion, at the end of some thing, passage, tubing, corridor, where there is no choice).

Like me (in a river, fire, cellar, forest, lake, in motion, at the end of some thing, passage, tubing, corridor, where there is no choice).

Boris and I are the same age. Flipsides of the same person. Natural, unnatural. I close my eyes. The lights remain on. I open my eyes. There are shadows. They are always being dusted. They are in photographs, videos. They are installed and install, correspondingly, a jealousy in me. The boy, the girl, the man, the lady. It matters little, that the people in these materials are in pain – emotional, nearly physical, narratival – after all, pain in these materials is always elevating. It is never cruel. It cannot be cruel. It is about what you cannot feel even when you feel it, are feeling it. It has claimed you and you reside, merely, helplessly, within, as you look down and see your shadow, moving, maybe, faster than you, moving on a train that pins your body to the window so that every picture is neo-noirish and flouro-smoking… “everybody moves, everybody changes, away from me”. They are moons, turning to face, turning away. They are self-sufficient. You reach out to speak to them, because you need a light, because you are a grown man and have a book of poetry and are easily wounded and love it, because you are not yet properly drunk, and they keep moving. They cry. They couldn’t care less whether you acknowledge their pain or not.

I want to be soft like that, hurt like that, feeling like that. There are many kinds of pain. I have never known any. I am therefore a non-artistic subject. They have pre-enlightenment faces. Old, young. They stare at us, not from the modern world, the world they reside in, but from the dawn of the chiaroscuro, the landscape, the passage, the interior, of their belonging ‘looking back’ on that time, if that is even possible. The lights, green, white, dimming, falling back into some place Joy Division made music about. Some industrial- but not, waste- but not -land, cascading into the past, because in the past are the faces. The faces pull at us. They are tidal beings, beings of the undertow. Back in the day people painted them because it was slowness that they required in order to speak, to call out at them and make them sound back, and to still them, right there between worlds, hovering waiting, waiting, for the sonar. Gary Hill called them Ghost ships. Dead blank, oceans, missing sailors, anxious families.

This is not my world. In my world there is: the Whitest boy alive, A Common Ground, Mykita Berlin, the bright light of the Tonglen, breathed out, whiteness, the darkness breathed in, the machinations of my faux Buddhism my last desperate pitch to get my anxiety in order before I, or someone very close to me, calls in the big guns. My plight, call it that, maybe, is to have separated myself from the Shadow, a classic mid-life phenomenon, of someone dazzled by their persona, bound by an old order, outside of themselves, by the flows of The Discipline.

(…) Boris and I are the same age. And now, though, these lights are seen (…) by others inserted into the spaces of their actuation, I am more fixed, my own loneliness transposed into someone else’s ideal world, if ideal it is, in fact, spatial and temporal, me clinging to his Gatsby-ish glow, the beauty of the faces and the bodies and the minds coming out of the pool, facing me for the first time, not yet open to what they can see of my person, but open to where they been, the depths they have been within, the perversions they have crafted and are keeping secret, the Ideal they have encountered and countered, breathing for the first time, and I am alienated by this freshness, aware, shockingly, sadly, that this is not my world.

I have been in the light too long to ever feel darkness the way it is at its coldest and, therefore, most generative and that this is the symptom of not being able to alter anything that is already in progress and change nothing that has not yet begun. We watch, in raptures. Thrilled, utterly, by our irrelevance.