VIEWS: 36 PAGES: 2 POSTED ON: 8/17/2012
Manifesto I Art is the artist’s desire to write new stories that replace older stories. I wonder how I would react if Jeanette Winterson was stood at my cash desk here at Schiphol Airport. I would blush, like I always do when famous people are at my cash desk. I hate myself for that, because usually these people are not worth blushing for, like football players and TV-presenters. I imagine Her buying a Guardian, though I only sell the European version. Would She complain about the price of English newspapers here in the Netherlands? I think She would be absolutely right to complain about it. For the last two years I have been thinking of a smart answer in case She complained about it. I haven’t come up with anything yet. Would She be looking for Her books? And would I apologize that we haven’t got any, like we don’t carry most interesting authors? And would I make a fool of myself saying that at least I read all Her books, just not to be unnoticed? There is no doubt though that She will be at my cash desk sooner or later. I mean, I saw you this morning, and there was absolutely no reason to see you in the early morning after Boxing Day. If you were suddenly at my cash desk, I would blush. Tremendously. You are such a beautiful woman. Manifesto II Art is the artist’s desire to read her/his own stories, over and over again, as if they weren’t her/his own. I saw you walking from the supermarket to the train station, here in Leiden. You were probably on your way to work at the airport, wearing your rock-candy uniform. I remember very well the first time we met. We had been dancing all evening. Usually I am not a dancer, but this time I did my utter best, to impress you. When it seemed that you were going to leave, you came up to me and said: “Before I go, I would like to say that you are a beautiful woman.” “Did I?” “Yes, you did.” “No, I didn’t. I wanted to, but I was too scared. You were with your friends all the time. I wondered if you would be interested in me, because I do think you are a beautiful woman, and though it was the exact opening sentence I thought of, I didn’t say it.” “But, if you hadn’t, we would never have met each other. I was also too scared to come up to you. You were alone, and you looked like somebody who was fully capable of starting a conversation with any stranger like me if you wanted to.” “Well, we haven’t met each other. It was your last day in Leiden. You emigrated to the other side of the world. To find yourself, or something like that.” “And what exactly am I doing outside the supermarket today?” Manifesto III Art is the artist’s desire to reread her/his own stories through the eyes of her/his readers. It was snowing that week; there were traffic jams all over Europe. I would love to suggest that the snow had a strange effect on my brain, but of course I don’t have a clue whether it had something to do with that. I bumped into a lot more pedestrians than I usually do on my bike, though. I have to finish that book, I thought. I have to finish that book today, in a café. And there I was, suddenly sitting in the English pub in the small town I live in. I took a first sip of my Guinness and thought of Phil and his dog Cato I once met in Skye, Scotland. Phil had explained to me very carefully how he had become homeless, but I don’t remember the story anymore. I do remember he started to save money by selling the Big Issue in London. He said selling the Big Issue can easily bring in £100,00 a day. He then bought a tent, one for him and a small one for his dog, hiking cloths and shoes, a gas ring, a backpack and travelled up north. Of course this is not what I was thinking of when I took the first sip of my pint. Did you believe me? I could tell a lot more stories about Phil though, if I were a better storyteller. I can show you a picture of him and his dog, if you like. *** I heard you decided to find the woman of your dreams last evening. I saw you rereading Winterson’s The Passion in the local pub, and you didn’t find me (though I don’t exist of course). What is it with you and rereading books? What is the sense of reading a novel you already know? Would you like to stop time? No, you would not. Knowing you, I think you are by no means aiming to stop time. You are aiming to grasp a moment, occurrences and thoughts vibrating, suggesting they could be grasped, only when you are walking very, very fast. Like you did in Venice. Like a poem, only in real life. I very much enjoyed the time with you in Venice in the autumn of 1999, walking hundreds of kilometres on cold days in this labyrinth, excited about the possibility of finding the woman of your dreams around every corner. During this week you read The Passion every night. On one evening you decided never to read the last chapter of books anymore. And, as you didn’t read the last chapter yesterday evening, you haven’t until today. It is still snowing and everyday you’re refusing to stop your attempts to become a good storyteller (that, you know, doesn’t exist of course). Manifesto IV Art is the artist’s desire to transform her/his own subjectivity. “Hey, what are you doing?” “What?” “Exactly. If you don’t start reading immediately, I will break up with you.” “What?” “You just bought a Dutch newspaper for double the price. It takes at least two more hours by train before we are home, and you stop reading after five minutes.” “I finished the art section.” “What are you going to do now then?” “Stare out of the window, listen to the radio on my walkman.” “Come on, there are so many books you have to finish. Take Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith out of my bag.” “The thick one?” “Suzanne, you should do something.” “Otherwise, you will break up with me.” “Yeah.” “I am doing something.” “What exactly?” “Making art.” “I don’t see you doing anything.” “Do you know Marcel Duchamp? He said going to the cinema or going for a walk is as important as making art. This is a contemporary version of that.” “Don’t you need an audience?” “You are.” “If I decide to be caught by temporary amnesia, I am not.” “Then I will document it.” “How? You did not bring your camera.” “I will write about it.” “Now?” “No, later, when we are home.” “All right. If this is making you happy.” “Say.” “Yes?” “Wasn’t Marcel Duchamp the artist who worked on his Large Glass his whole life?” These manifestos were made possible by The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture.
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