Letters to Verónica: Believe in magic

Note: Names have been changed to preserve personal privacy.

Verónica answers: 26th November 2011
(Letter 2: V. Answers)


I’m very exhausted and your letter made me feel like crying. I feel a “YES” to everything you say concerning magic and fairy tales. Coincidences enchant me. I call angels those people who arrive to relieve me or coinciding to my needs in each moment of distress. From September until now I had many visits from angels. So my happiness is in good shape. It’s just a question of resisting from trying to hold them. Because angels come and go and are happy as happy as us to see them being angels.

“Believe that it is on it’s way” it’s all I can tell you about my magic formula. You know that already.

Tomorrow I will paint the bus stop. I will paint people’s houses during summer, right now I will only design the drawings, that might be simple so that people will feel that they have capacity to paint them, or even re-invent them. 

Yes, I have to believe the project and get out of my comfort zone. Painting walls for me is out of my comfort zone. To paint, the brush, the wall and the paint are some of the most sensual discoveries that I had recently. The will and the slowness like caressing a body, that’s the brush on the wall. It’s magic. I can only wonder how is that someone who used to paint can stop doing it. I still haven’t explored the colour since I have to follow the existing one so when I will discover that this caressing leaves a trace of colour… I will freak out!

I’m scared I anticipate a storm.

Yesterday I saw the sunset in a very horizontal line of trees that seats in the top of the village. The sky was pink. I thought about you. If I wouldn’t be running to pick up the acetates to make a mask, I would have written you a text. Now it’s here.

I really liked reading you. I will practice painting like the Indians from the articles I sent you. I’m sure here technical rigor is an aesthetic criterion. I have to fill in the local needs.

I love the coincidence of the girl you talked is also involved in a project of wall painting there. It seems another friend from the group. (Forgive me the freedom) and tomorrow I will paint “Don’t come late” the fado in the bus stop. Today I will have a couple meetings so I will have to postpone the apinting and only do a few tests.

I really like you. The story of the fado and the shoes reminds me of the duck care taker. Yesterday I saw Peter and the Wolf by Prokofiev. I’d love to see José e Pilar. I would also love to be a business woman, I guess I’m terrible in management I really admire you; now you’re really growing up…and I’d like to end leaving you with a poem that you already know but that shows how I feel, I feel like this child:

The function of art / 1

Diego did not know the sea. The father, James Kovadloff led him to

Trip south.

She, the sea, was beyond the high dunes, waiting.

When the boy and his father finally reached those heights of sand,
After much walking, the sea burst before their eyes.

And so great was the intensity of the sea, and its light, that the child was moved from

And when I finally managed to speak, trembling, stammering, he asked his

! Help me seeing!

Kisses and good luck for the next few days!
I now answer the questions from your email:

Read bellow

November 25th, 2011
Location: Rotterdam
8:07 pm
(Letter 1: Su writes)

Dear V.

I’m sorry that I couldn’t answer your emails before, I will answer a couple of things at once…I don’t know if it still goes on time…I won’t publish your images, their yours, it’s your research and your work, I don’t want to invade that. I still think you should try more fonts. And I don’t see what’s wrong with heterogeneity. I find the text beautiful, it reminds me of the Book of Embraces.

:)  Why?
(Letter 2: V. Answers)

 I think it’s nearly for you to decide what to do with them. Just collect them. Trust your project and trust that you have to do what you have to do, you can’t guess what is going to be the result. And after painting you see, and you’ll keep seeing and finding things. Give it time.

You’re so right

Get out of your comfort zone. No fear. Ah, and you didn’t tell me: you painted the little house that was on TV, the bus stop and now you’ll paint the houses from the locals, right? And can you continue the project after the end of the residency?

It will be during summer

I loved your description of doing the painting and the amyor that was a hip hop dancer ahahah too good! Which are the pictures that you want me to send you as postcards?

Your favorite ones
I’d like you to send them to the cloister, if it’s all right
In fact I don’t know when I will sleep there again, I think it would be a good way for them to know you and how close you are to the project
It’s my way to introduce you.
You have the blog, I’d have the postcards
I guess I’d also like to have you here and not only in my head or by email
Think about it and tell me what you think
Otherwise it can also be my address in Lisbon

http://www.oficinasdoconvento.com/ (check here while I was looking for the address)

Where to? Now this is a bit hectic but of course I will make some time for that. Would you like me to publish those? I like the reactions of people, the Santa Claus plus the other one that was afraid you’d paint her house without permission ahaahah!Like a spy, in late night ahah! 

So much to say…

Were you sad that your tandem left?
Yes. I really liked to be with him this last time and he showed me that he liked as well. And that if he wouldn’t have gone back something else could have happened but it’s ok it was one more angel

Do you miss Lisbon? 

My news…last weeks I had a lot to do and couldn’t focus on writing you. Well, where to start…so many thoughts…So I went to the Fado schip. I worked on Saturday. It’s fun to be on a boat and also because it’s something I never done before. It was very tiring because on Saturday I was the centre of attention at the same time I was trying to focus on learning all the details. For being on a boat everything as a place and everything as a specific way of being done to be functional. The owner of the boat is learning Portuguese and she was also curious to meet me so we used every little pause to chat in Portuguese. A strong woman. Then there was her son, that must be around 15, the captain, a kind of entertainer that speaks on the microphone and immediately introduced the crew to the audience, explaining that I was Portuguese and that I couldn’t speak Dutch: it immediately sounded exotic to the clients, then another man that is like the chef, and that was making sure I was doing everything right but at the end was also smiling a lot coming to me with some Spanish words, asking if it was Portuguese. I made a bit of everything. When I was serving at the tables, making a huge effort to make the best use of the three sentences I can say in Dutch, clients were delighted by that kind of “so cute she can say that”, well at the end I was exhausted. Its’ hard work, but at the same time I feel like a character, I assume that and try to do my best and to take the best out of it. My night ended watching a movie, from which I can only remember a close-up of Jude Law’s face with the glasses of an aviator and I fell asleep on the sofa with this heaven’s image.

:)  I like the image

The lady asked me to make the flyer and I was working on that during the week. It was fun and I realized how easy it is for me to create an image that communicates a Portuguese environment, it’s just so natural, it sounds stupid but I was surprised. That part is great. From the other part time job they haven’t called yet, which was actually good because I had so much to do this week…I went to the accountant to learn how taxes work here: it’s incredible to think that what I really have to learn from this country is to be a businesswoman, something that I never learned in Portugal, I guess our culture doesn’t help. Well, and last Thursday I also started my Dutch classes with Diana, a Portuguese friend that lives here for a while and speaks very well, private classes is very, very good, a lot faster. She says that as I learnt German, I can learn the rules a lot easier and that for the first class we could move forward a lot faster than what normally a starter can. It was so hard to decide for that but now I’m, really decided, I really think I will learn. And that day, as I was coming from Utrecht, I had the real Dutch experience: I rode the bike without hands =D uau! Wildness!


Well, remember I told you I’d like to make a project with the kids? I don’t inow if I told you but I convinced my friend Silvia to go to the aerobic classes with me. Silvia, besides being a person that made everything and even more, she collaborated in two projects of mine last year and she made gymnastics for many years, figure skating and lots of stuff and the teacher loved her. At the end of the class, she went to talk to her, made her some questions and proposed to her to give some classes to the kids. Can you believe this?  Too good! I really want to follow her classes. Today I’m stocked in Beethoven, piano. My consultant is in fact an artist and his first consultancy work was in Kanaleneiland. Meanwhile, I had asked my friend Diana to translate me some documents so that I could apply for the funding here. She saw it and said it was quite complicated and that it would be better to ask to a native and that a colleague from her office has offered to do the translation. The documentation had the motivation statement and some stuff on my projects. You can’t imagine my surprise when she sent me an email with the translation, saying that three years ago she worked in Kanaleneiland, she was envolved in a project where they painted some façades and that the “welcome” was also part of her project. Can you believe this? All the roads lead to Kanaleneiland! I will meet her next week. This made me so much happier than if I would have known and would have gone after her! Because this is coincidence and as Agamben says, coincidence is magic =):

Like creatures in fables, children know that in order to be happy it is necessary to keep the genie in the boule at one's side, and have the donkey that craps gold coins or the hen that lays golden eggs in one's house. And no matter what the situation, it is much more important to know the exact place ancl the right words to say than to take the trouble to reach a goal by honest means. Magic means precisely that no one can be worthy of happiness and that, as the ancients knew, any happiness commensurate with man is always hubris; it is always the result of arrogance and excess. But if someone succeeds in influencing fortune through trickery, if happiness depends not on what one is but on a magic walnut or an "Open sesame!"- then and only then can one consider oneself to be truly and blessedly happy.

(Believe in magic shoes)

That is the ultimate reason for the precept that there is only one way to achieve happiness on this earth: to believe in the divine and not to aspire to reach it (there is an ironic variation of this in a conversation between Franz Kafka and Gustav Janouch, when Kafka affirms that there is plenty of hope - but not for US).4 This apparently ascetic thesis becomes intelligible only if we understand the meaning of this "not for us." It means not that happiness is reserved only for others (happiness is, precisely, for us) but that it awaits us only at the point where it was not destined for us. That is: happiness can be only through magic. At that point, when we have wrenched it away from fate, happiness coincides entirely with our knowing ourselves to be capable of magic, with the gesture we use to banish that childhood sadness once and for all.

Agamben, “Profanations”

It reminds me of your first letter, Fitzgeraldo’s excerpt and the sentence: “believe in magic, it exists”. I started making some drawings where I trace in a simplified way the paths of these coincidences that gravitate around Kanaleneiland.  I still like the story with the shoes and I want to research on stories with shoes. I like the idea of these stories, about a magic object that brings happiness. I thought what in life I found magic…well, three things come very fast to my mind: fall in love, see fantastic art projects/make work and coincidences.  I also thought again on the question of immune system and defences and I think it’s about adaptation, before anything else and that maybe most part of my work has to do with that and I never considered it as such. I saw the movie “José e Pilar”. Everyone was telling me about their story, the trips, how essential she was, I don’t know what. What really surprised me was the strength of that woman. Unbelievable! Apart from what I might think of their relation and how the trips and it all became so much, you can only see them having some rest when he goes to the hospital, it made me think of that perfect recipe. What Agamben calls the genius, the child, the creative force, that is him, who has an extraordinary ability to think and an incredible sensibility, but that also makes him really fragile. And her astonishing strength that takes anything through and doesn’t aim so much to think in a fair (“juste” it reminds me of Derrida), like him, but that thinks what she thinks and is a woman of really strong convictions, that makes things happen. So many times this dilemma: to think through things one needs to embrace that philosophic thought, but to make them sometimes one needs to take everything in front and be brave. How to marry those two ways of being. Through the letter I had dinner, was drawing and talking on the phone, it’s now two o’clock in the morning! I’m going to sleep.
Thousand kisses,

I forgot to tell you
Here in são cristóvão there is a place called "calcanhar do mundo" (world’s heel)
Of course I already dream of writing in the bus stop
“do you want to go to the wordl’s heel with me?”
“would you take me to the world’s heel?”
“let’s go to the world’s heel?”

But it can’t be because it’s a private place and since the owner changed it’s no longer to go there without being received with some bird gun
Even the city hall had some problems with them because they were organizing trips and they had so many visitors with the escoral’s grotto’s
When it all ended and it seems they are now in court
Although it reminds the importance of names
What a name does
It’s so strong that one believes that place is the world’s heel
And that is there and not next to it
When it fact what makes the difference is that someone on a certain moment
That could have been two minutes ago had the idea of giving it that name
And as no one knows anymore who was it or when
It’s as if the name was already born with the place and so
It becomes credible special unique and desirable
And in that instant one doesn’t even need to make the effort to forget it’s not like that
Name and place are the same thing and no one was born first, there was no trick
Nor production, time took the scaffoldings that take it to success away
Apparently it’s a beautiful place
And one day I will be seating on that heel.