Friday, 29 October 2010

This is Not a Performance, This is Real Life


Half way through Delineation, and I have reached the depths of despair, an achievement as great as touching the stratosphere, depending on which way you look at it.

Having asserted my intention to write in the space for the duration of the show, I choked after a day, then half a second day, and four hours of a third. It is a beautiful space, of course, as almost everyone I've heard walk past and into my personal space has agreed, and it is full of neat work by members of TBC Artists' Collective, but it is a group show, not a collective articulation, and here as elsewhere, group shows elevate some members to the detriment of others. If it does what it says on the tin (of artist's shit), then all the artists involved function as one. The result should be the light work of many hands. I put my hands up and say I did not understand the brief, the space, how the space relates to drawing, how I relate to drawing, how TBC Artists' Collective and the mix of its featured artists relates to drawing, how I relate to TBC Artists' Collective. I put my hands up and say I still don't know the answers to any of these questions, and I can hear people say, 'don't try to understand, just do', but there must be a reason that I have reached the age of 28 without ever having 'done'. It is unfortunate that it is the middle of the show before I decide to be honest with myself, but next to my name on the plan it says 'performance' and so here it is, a little bit of drama, a mini-breakdown.

The decision to write in the space wasn't really a decision, but a blurt-out that I then had to stand beside like a puddle of my own vomit. As a 'writer' I felt that it was the only course of action. 'Writers' don't put things into frames, they don't visualise, they write. Any participation in this show by a writer would have to be a written 'performance', or comprise the reading of a text. Any other ideas? Perhaps I could have announced a timetable of readings of work produced in or around the show. I could have done a lot of things differently, such as refrain from taking on so many administrative duties around the organisation of the show, whether I put my hand up because nobody else did or out of flattery when someone suggested I would be the ideal person for the job. Like many men, I am vain, and embrace flattery like a bee does a rose. I therefore end up being controlled by suggestions and steered and pushed this way and that like a child's remote control car. My uncle bought me a remote control car once, when I was about seven. My mother took it away from me and told me I could have it back when I was 21. Needless to say, by then I'd forgotten about it and couldn't care less anyway. In fact, I've only just remembered it now. I wonder if they still have it? They probably gave it to my brother.

Sponsorship and fundraising: fail and an albatross called The Delineation Workshops. 12-Pages: fail – no print-run; the cover is too conceptual and in the end contains an error; the piece of work I wrote was too long and took up too much space, and in the end had to be cut so brutally only half the original story remains. I am the copy editor of the group, having put my own name forward as such due to my horror at the profound dyslexia prevalent in the group, either that or its manifestation of the decline in standards of basic education in Britain, and my wish to maintain an accurately written face on anything associated with me, Mr. Perfect. On top of all of this I had to make work for the show (having been told I had to participate, and in harnessing that other great undesirable man-trait – pride – thought, what the hell, how hard can it be to make art), reconciling myself with the visual form and its abstraction of ideas whilst developing a line of investigation, and the skills to finish, that would make me sound as clever and appear as strong as all the professors and graduates that make up the vast majority of the group. I have set myself up for an epic fail that has inevitably materialised, perpetuated by unpaid rent, strained friendships, a crisis of dignity and a constant fear of being thrown out into the street that will of course result in me being thrown out into the street like a used, worthless, toothless, filthy, diseased whore with cum and blood no longer running down her legs but crusted and sticking them together.

Yes, I feel sorry for myself; yes, I accept that, and yes, I am a fool. It is on days like this that I see my timeline in two colours: red blocks for positive times and blue for negative. Today is a blue day, obviously, and it pushes all the other blues to the surface, drowning all the reds. During the lows, you don’t remember the highs, and vice-versa. Some people say I should just snap out of it. How about: fuck off. The only way to snap out of whatever-it-is is in death, and even then, who knows?

On Tuesday I set myself up in a small mostly enclosed space within The Crypt with a foldaway table and chair. On Wednesday I introduced a few old journals, some explicit photographs of myself nude that I have censored (at least the top one), and some small sketches. I put my current journal on the table and in the afternoon, began to write belatedly. It was exciting when someone came in and peered over my shoulder at what I was writing, not that I was writing anything particularly enterprising, just a load of new shit to add to the load of old shit written in the pile of old journals in the corner behind me. I faced a brick wall, and ignored my audience. My friends came and went during the private view, without my greetings. I failed to prepare for this show and so have been inconsistent, sometimes talking to people, sometimes not, sometimes writing down what people say, and when there are no people, such as in the cold light of the morning after the private view, there is only the most depressing space imaginable. Suddenly I feel exposed, and want to get away from people and from what I set up for myself for the public to pick at, without preparation.

Because I don't know what I'm doing, because I don't have any ideas, I should have put myself up as a material, to be used however members of the group envisioned it. I should have been used as a puppet, for the work, not the administration; the former could have been a success, though the latter could only have been a failure, because I'm not a professional.

TBC. Nice show. Sorry I spoiled it.




Monday, 25 October 2010

History

Empty streets suffer long holes in the road.
Like bombs dropped, constant alarm
Halts the one or two vehicles in the city.

Torn flags wave in the nauseous winds
While the lower castes take the prints of criminals.
Spendthrift generals pick the pockets of children
As roaming soldiers prepare new ground.

On Sundays, the banks close
And the churches throw open their doors
To catch all the shrapnel into town-planned tinkering
Pockets, passages, crevices and corners
With papers cracked over, reaching up in praise.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Dear Jonathan (Part II)

Married with FIVE children? Are you joking? How old are you, a year older than me? I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like had I stayed in the truth, and I shudder. I would have been a completely different person of course, with a different catalogue of experiences, so it is perhaps an unfair question, but I don’t know if I’d be happy. I think I am being true to myself now, and I can’t imagine being a father, especially not to FIVE children! How do you cope? How old are they all? What are their names?

Congratulations on your baptism. I’m happy that you have found something real in your faith and taken that step. Did something happen that made Jehovah real to you, or was it just a question of time and conviction? My sister once told me a story of how a problem in her life, and its subsequent resolution, made Jehovah real to her, and she has never looked back, so I can completely understand how that can be the case.

You must lead a busy life, being father to – I have a lump in my throat – FIVE children, at the age of 29, working full-time to support them and reserving enough energy to be a father to them all individually and as a collective, and be a husband and baptised brother. I admire you greatly, particularly as you say you are happy. I would, if I was in your shoes, be too tired to be happy!

Again, it means a lot to know that you are praying for me. I still see myself as being one of God’s children. I feel that I have been given a role that only I can fulfil, and that role lies outside the organisation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, at least for now. I have no idea what the future holds, but perhaps my knowledge and experience, having known the world from within and without the organisation, will one day come to some use. That is all any artist or writer would want – for their toil to have a lasting impact, and their suffering to have been for some good. So, you don’t need to worry about this little sheep being away from the fold; I’m quite safe here, and I’m sure we’ll see each other again.

Kindest regards,

Paul

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Dear Jonathan


Dear Jonathan,

How are you? It has been a long time, indeed. I’m touched that you thought of me and took the time to write such a heartfelt message. Only you and my brother have ever done so.

So what’s going on? Are you married? Kids? How are your family? What do you do for a job? Are you baptised now?

I’m struggling along in London as an artist and writer. I have my first exhibition at the end of this month and a second following quickly after, so I’m very busy – and stressed – at the moment. I’ve had small pieces of writing published here and there but, like most people, I’m still waiting for something real to happen. I’ve been here for six years now and can’t imagine living in another city.

I live with, amongst others, a girl from my year at high school, who is also an artist. We produce a magazine of contemporary art, for which I am the editor. Busy, busy, busy.

I have been through some bad times since I left the truth ten years ago, and wallowed in dreadful emotions that I still feel twinges of now and then, even today. Nobody’s life is perfect, or totally happy, but I do genuinely feel that I am being true to myself and leading the only possible life I can lead. Of course I can see the world for what it is – the very streets of London manifest the declining apocalyptic world painted in prophecy – and I’m sure that something will happen soon. Trust that I am not simply pretending that nothing is happening; I just feel that my time now is best spent outside of Jehovah’s organisation, knowing both good and bad, just as Christ did.

I know that you will think I'm just brushing you off and making excuses. Jehovah's people gave me my education, which has gone on to inform and ask questions of everything I have subsequently thought or acted upon. Thank you for reminding me of what I should be thinking about, however. ‘You are still my brother, and I love you’ is what my sister Sarah said to me once, and I repeat that to you now.

Best wishes,

Paul

Friday, 8 October 2010

Evisceration


Evisceration I (2010)

Home is where the red hat is.
My open wounds exposed, I cower and recoil
Deeper, into my own room, in which
The big-boned boy jumps and kicks…
And his sister screams and hollers, little bitch.

Evisceration, II (2008-10)

Foaming your hair and eating clementine segments, 
Looking out of a window on a train, 
At a desk, with cigarette and pencil,
In bed; how your morning attitude has changed!
Giving good look, over a balcony, running in plimsolls
With your goofy smile, we all began to die.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Work In Progress: Paul Mendez


The presence of drawing in Paul Mendez’ work centres around, firstly, the opportunistic entrapment of floating words and phrases onto paper, that exist individually as statements or coagulate to form prose, and secondly, the exploration of thoughts and ideas that may be expressed in a manner liminal to both words and images. In the former, Mendez’ biographical writings form the basis of a ‘word bin’ from which various phrases and scenes are extracted and spliced together, adapting William Burroughs’ ‘cut-up’ technique, and in the latter, statements are reduced to lines on a grid, that question how beauty translates across art forms.