24 November 2009

One Friday, last month

Looking back, I had felt weird all afternoon.

Not due at the restaurant until 7.30pm nevertheless, bored silly, I left work at five and took the tube to London Bridge from where I wandered, against the flow of the crowd, through the closing-up remains of Borough market and out on to the South Bank.

It was autumn-chilly, but I wasn't cold and I pushed on past the Golden Hind, Vinopolis, Clink Street, the Globe and to a bank building where in 1996 I had worked for over a year as a consultant and where, now, I paused and stared into the windows trying to catch a glimpse of my former life.

When I reached Tate Modern I calculated I had still an hour to kill and so I went inside, vaguely in search of a Kandinsky, vaguely in search of a surprise and a few minutes later ventured, intrigued and hesitant, into How It Is, an enormous dark steel box that occupies the Turbine Hall. Completely dark, but clanking and echoing with the footsteps of others, and with whispers echoing from within, I felt not alone but disconnected : It was uncomfortable although not scary, disorientating but not debilitating and it was impossible to perceive how many people were inside with me. I was glad, when I turned around, to find that the way out was clear and obvious.

At the entrance to the box stood two identical twins in identical bright scarlet dresses, and identical ribbons in their hair, talking to a curious young man, and I thought I heard one say, quite distinctly: "Actually, we're an exhibit".  At the time it made no sense at all.

They did have a Kandinsky, though it took a moment  for I didn't immediately recognise it as one of his: Lake Starnberg: a confusing, false colour view of an autumnal Switzerland.

I scurried away, glad to be outside, and hurried to Waterloo.

By the time I reached the restaurant it was raining and it felt like a long time since I had left Canary Wharf. We were eating with another family, a birthday treat. Greasy antipasti and two cool beers later I felt the warm excitement of a Friday evening but the restaurant was windowless and too dark and it was hot and noisy. The antipasti was filling and the beer was cool and when my cheeseburger came I chewed a couple of mouthfuls and suddenly I needed to stand up very quickly.

And then I was back inside the steel box, but now the Kandinsky was there as well, and the colours brighter but it still it made no sense, and this time I could tell there were lots of other people there, and far away I heard someone shout "My goodness! - it's Alibert" and I laughed.

And then I was standing at the other end of the restaurant, leaning against a counter and a worried-looking Mrs Botogol was there with me, staring.

"You fainted", she said, "How long were you out for?" and I could only think "I'm supposed to ask that" and it wasn't fair, and I had no answer and so, for quite a few moments, I didn't say anything at all.


M4GD said...

So, you fainted, the Kandinsky colors came to the rescue and you lived to blog about it! Scary and Beautiful at the same time. Glad you’re safe and Mrs Botogol was by your side.

Kandinsky: I agree with you looking at this painting one may not think it’s a Kandinsky. It looks more like a painting by his protégé, friend, and lover Gabrielle Münter. They both painted lots of landscape paintings of the beautiful Bavarian country side specifically Murnau. I came to know about this because I have this lovely book that details this period of their lives in pictures, paintings, and a collection of their exchanged personal letters. It’s called: Wassily Kandinsky and Gabrielle Münter Letters and Reminiscences 1902-1914 by Annegret Hoberg. It’s good to have if you like Kandinsky.

The steel box: It’s a very clever idea. The Modern Art does it again and brings what is hidden to the fore. It allows us to ‘tangibly’ feel the fear inside each of us mere mortals. One can experience the ‘steel box moment’ any time any where. It’s our own prerogative to deal with this fear whatever it is in whichever way i.e. find and open the door, remain locked, make round trips in and out or circle the four corners of the box…the choices are endless!

Probably if I’m inside the box I’d be reciting a poem with a happy ending – another beauty by Mary Oliver:
“Broken, Unbroken

The lonely
stand in the dark corners
of their hearts.

I have seen them
in cities,
and in my own neighbourhood,

nor could I touch them
with the magic
that they crave

to be unbroken.
Then, I myself,

said hello to good fortune.

came along
and lingered
and little by little

became everything
that makes the difference.
Oh, I wish such good luck

to everyone.
How beautiful it is
to be unbroken.”

Welcome back Mr. Botogol!

outside-jane said...

Are you alright?

Botogol said...

I am fine, thanks :-)

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