The Way I Feel it Slipping All Over Me (2018). Performance wearing sculpture (Scrofula). Performed at Hypersea (Art Monte Carlo) and In some far off place Many light years in space I'll wait for you (Cubitt Gallery)
The text is written as an ode to the bay of Monaco, a desire for a sexual encounter with a body of water. The yacht which hosted the exhibition was an ambivalent and hierarchical space, in which both artists and art works were restricted in where they were allowed to sit, stand, and what they were allowed to touch, due to the stated value of the interior decor and fittings. I wrote the text in advance of going to Monaco and seeing the yacht itself, so it is a speculative romance. The performative reading integrates the erotic desire for watery embodiment, with water sports, and the simultaneous aspiration and disgust elicited by the ostentatious wealth and hierarchy of value displayed in Monaco.
After having been, and having performed, and after experiencing how we were all treated as artists and independent curator, I wrote a sequel which is in this project: How deep is your love. This felt like a much better, or more resolved text. So I include only an extract of the performance I spoke on the yacht. If you want to read more about a romance to the bay of Monaco, visit this page where there is a full PDF.
The first day
This conversation is difficult, because you cannot speak. Or perhaps you do speak, but I cannot hear it. I wonder if, being so large, you are simply communicating at a much slower rate. We move in different time scales, yours epic, mine fleeting. Such a disjuncture would surely be a barrier to greater intimacy, you might think. You would wonder how a romance between a bird and a whale, for example, might unfold. Yet whale song and bird song are assonant, and the accelerated calls of the humpback whale sound exactly like the chirping of a nightingale. The theme of Mozart’s seventeenth piano concerto is based on the refrain of his pet starling. The bird and the whale could meet, erotically, if they could meet across time. Or perhaps they already do have intimate relations, and it is enough that they are both saying the same thing for some form of understanding—or perhaps not understanding so much as connection—to pass between them. There is a phrase, something trite, about love being not looking at each other but looking in the same direction. And so the nightingale and the humpback are looking, speaking, in the same direction. They pleasure each other through some means, perhaps the whale rolls over and the delicate bird uses its beak along the leviathan’s genitals, gently pecking the tender parts with nibbling affection, a fluttering tickle for the enormous lover—but I digress, because the nightingale and the humpback whale are an analogy for us, you understand. Sped up, your sloshing heave sounds like pedestrian conversation. The hulking crash of a giant wave in a storm is in fact a quip about that screaming child in a plastic nappy who dipped their toe in your waters then ran away, crying. Idiot child. You will taste that nappy at some point, you say ruefully, thinking of the acrid green spray of excrement haloed in yellow saturated into the artificial fibres of its gusset, slowly drifting out from land to sea. We think the same, we speak the same. We may be speaking to each other on different time scales, but we are still speaking to each other, because we are saying the same thing, in chorus, if not in synchronicity. And so, I speak, and perhaps I imagine your reply, but still I know it to be true. Because if I reply to myself, I am only saying what you would say.
The second day
Apparently everyone pisses in the shower, she said to me, but this is something I have never done. I find the idea grotesque, I said. We both laughed because she agreed with me, and we had both felt ashamed at our distaste towards this activity, as though other lovers had thought we were too particular, too fussy, but we met across this common disgust.
It’s not a disgust at pissing, I’d like to think. I’d like to think that it is not a horror of my own body. I’d like to think I would experiment with water sports, I said, though I haven’t so far, because really you need to get waterproof sheets, or do it in the shower, and the thing about the waterproof sheets is that the mattress would still slope downwards at the edges so everything would run off onto the floor, so then do you have to put down a tarpaulin on the floor, and at what point does insulating the space from your own body become a dampener to desire?
But it’s not an explicit horror of urine that has resulted in my entire life being lived without one occurrence of urinating in the shower. It’s more that the thought never even occurs to me. The shower is for cleaning, no? The toilet is for pissing? I would no more piss in my seat on the bus than I would in the shower, just because I needed to go.
You would disagree. You would tell me: we are all fluid, the mucus around your soft parts will mix with the hot steaming shower water and trickle down your leg, flow into the drain, minute flakes of particulate urine mixed with discharges that have dried on the coarse hairs of your groin will be dissolved by its heat, there will be urine no doubt everywhere, all over the bath, the shower curtain which will slap coldly onto your leg, the cheap bottle of herbal essences laced with petroleum—this too will be covered in urine, little bits, tiny bits of it, and attempting to partition different fluids into different vessels and waste pipes is ridiculous. You would run your watery currents over my groin, caress every part of me with an infinitely gentle touch, and laugh, and say, you are being ridiculous.
It’s worse than that, I told her. I can’t piss in the sea. She laughed and said, No that’s unnatural, everyone pisses in the sea. I don’t, I said.