Letters to Verónica: first letter

October 17 2011
8.29 pm
Location: Kanaleneiland

Dear V.,

Here I seat and write you. In this empty room, that works as a space for presenting events, João’s tomatoes next to one of the windows, the reflex from the lamps on the other one. I feel like in a kind of aquarium, in a room with no curtains. I can’t see much through for the outside, but I know that you can see through from the outside to the inside. But I don’t think there’s anyone in the streets. We couldn’t turn the central heater on, so it’s shit cold and I have a small heater that Nikos brought from Amsterdam. And I think that it would never occurred to us, when you came to this neighbourhood that I could be here now! I don’t resist addressing you, sharing all this with you; I hope it won’t hunt you with sad and obsolete images from your staying here. As you were saying during summer, it’s not easy to find places to write in the streets, there are no places to simply “be” in the streets. From the things I know about the urban planning, it seems that it was a deliberate decision, so that homeless people and the “problematic youth” wouldn’t have where to land. The neighbourhood is also small, which doesn’t leave much choice in terms of places for people to join together. It’s cold and there are not many people in the streets, it’s actually a bit quiet. This week the kids don’t have classes, so I can see them at each block, in the pseudo-playgrounds that grow as mushrooms at each corner. They look quite cheeky, but with a certain grace (until the day they mess around with me =D).  Today there were a couple kids, with a plastic tractor, a bit bigger than a tricycle. Green. It reminded me of “The straight story” by David Lynch, have you seen it? The guy who crosses America in a lawn tractor to see his brother? Yes, but this ones were hanging around back and forth, until one tries to lift the front wheel up (as if in a motorcycle) to fall right on the floor. Too good.

This space is cool, good for working. (I don’t resist sharing this with you: there might be someone here with belly problems, the toilet always smells incredibly well, I looked up and there are three spray cans from Breeze and a box with around 20 of that stuff that you put on the toilet (to give it a nice smell), what makes me wonder why would someone buy an entire box of that stuff!)

They prevented me to be a bit cautious, but so far no incidents. In fact, today I was trying to walk on the streets without being noticed, or let’s give it a pompous name comme il faut, (this is an art project, after all): I was researching for strategies of invisibility ahahah! It sounds better, doesn’t it? In fact, I simply walked through the neighbourhood, block after block. I specially like the place with a view through the river, and the shelter under the bridge. But almost not one passes there. This all story about public space actually came from my drive to watch people. And I couldn’t watch them in their homes. Also the space would be small, it would lack dynamic, movement, interaction. It’s not so much the idea of questioning design or urban planning; what fascinates me is to watch people, their expressions, gestures, movements, interactions, the social choreography of the thing. I’ve read the pdf from Claire Bishop’s book you asked me to download from the internet. I have to print it or order it (interrupted by a noise coming from the ceiling: I don’t know what the neighbour does, either he is an elephant or he has an elephant at home =D) it talks about Maria Lind, Cândida already talked about her, she seems to be a cool one.

Past Saturday I came to attend two presentations, one from João (that I mentioned above; he tried to grow vegetables to eat and the result was two tomatoes: one is getting mellow), he is Portuguese and made a project on how to transform waste oil into biodiesel: fantastic research and amazing performance with an accent that makes it really witty. The other one was from Nikos, a great Greek guy that introduced what he calls “Night Walks”, a series of walks through the neighbourhood that gathers more and more people, he refers to it as baby steps towards a collaboration. Beautiful and unpretentious. I think that if life wasn’t a (fuck, how you say “seripendity” in Portuguese? Pause for google translate…), if life wasn’t a Serendipidade (ahah, very good, isn’t it?), well, if life wasn’t such a fool seripendity, I could convince you to come here.

(“Chance favours only the prepared mind”
Louis Pasteur

I found this in wikipedia, beautiful, isn’t it? It’s almost like: “When the student is ready, the master appears”)

Look, I found this, maybe you’ll like it, might be the kind of “The book of embraces”:

(Sometimes I feel a shudder through the spine for being alone here, in a room without curtains…)

(ups! shit, I heard a noise from the stairs…)

(ahah, if the neighbour comes to ask for sugar, I open the door with a bird gun, very ridiculous, ahah!)

(Pause to send a stupid text…)

Well, this email starts having so many parentheses that by now it’s all parentheses and trivial things with no interest, which makes me think that I found the track of words… and the conversation has lost the few seriousness that had on the beginning…

 V., your friend just managed to turn the hitting on!

(12.33 pm now)
We tried many times during the morning and it wouldn’t work and now I just went there and zás! It’s working… I’m a bit worried that it now has a huge flame, seems like the all thing is burning on the inside, I guess it must be normal, it’s warming up… It also makes some funny noises… I’ll keep an eye on it until going to bed… I sent an email to the guys saying that they didn’t have to worry about the lack of heating, that in fact in seemed like the all thing was burning inside; I think they might have felt a lot more relieved.

I was thinking something: that it would help me a lot for this project if I could write you as part of my research. But that would mean that possibly what I write you would be published. Do you mind? Besides helping me, which is before anything else a need from me, I also think that if you don’t feel exposed, that could be a way of dedicating it to you, partially. Please let me know how you feel about that. It comes to my mind that I really like to have you in my life, otherwise to whom would I write all this?

Thousand kisses,