sketchbook: the line as gesture

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i talk at length about the line last night. he knows the work, he, like many of you, is in it. i talk about the reposting. the things the reposting is making clear to me. how it relates and how it alters what is central to the piece for me. i know that a photo essay will not be a sufficient form for it. that was already clear when E. and i finally spoke after half a year or more on Monday. it needs layering, looping and mingling. when i gesture about the state this work needs, i realise what else it is; how a conference paper on state and street violence is not sufficient for it; what else it is and how the list of participants for Prespes allayed some of my fear. how brazen it feels to bring violence and desire to walking arts. how it genders the walker, the walk, the city, the street.
— it doesn’t gender it, it only make apparent the deficiency of a whole number of accounts. it’s not like we are talking about a female principle. far from it.
towards the end he asks if the timeline stresses me. i: no, not all. i have a whole month to do this and there is little else that i need to do. this is fun.
the gesture i make is one that i recognise as my own, about myself. i get moved by it. literally. i may have to move it with it.

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  • Gesa Helms — I still can’t believe that former tutor wanted to get rid of the core, the body, the heart of it…
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  • Gesa Helms i make the gesture of the line twice and pursue it further. it goes into different directions.
    i watch it and i sense it.
    nobody else watches and senses it.
    i wonder what T watched and sensed when he saw me doing it yesterday.
    .
    did it happen?
    did i perform?
    .
    what did it leave?
    .
    the sense sensation is strong. it persists, increases, ebbs away a little, returns. it is that which animates the gesture and continues, prolongs it.
    .
    i watch intently and wonder if it is of interest to anyone who watches. or, is it something that needs doing in order to be something.
    .
    what do you see?
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  • Gesa Helms it poses again the question of the mirror
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sketchbook: the line (omission 1)

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Gesa Helms
31 mins

the / line

— following that secret (along with my headache, why is that a thing again, btw) from last night’s post, i retrace my steps that first time i walked along Oxford Rd. i remember how far the hotel was, how the road changed abruptly past the Aldi (or was it a Lidl) and I realised that I had misjudged the proximity of things. I arrive at the hotel and am shown to my room. I am shattered and while I briefly wonder what is in the bathroom. are they for me? I undress and lie down to a mid-afternoon nap. shortly after, there is a knock on the door, i open, the manager is apologetic. explains the room hasn’t been cleaned. shows me to another room while the cleaner tidies. she and i chat, about working in Germany and in England, then i return. there is new bed linen. i shudder a little, realise i can’t quite sleep now and get dressed. i leave the hotel and wander to Andy Warhol.
do i see the grasses then? i don’t think so. i think that only happened the next morning.
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i slept in someone else’s bed that afternoon. i still feel the duvet cover on my skin. i remembered how i wondered how used it felt, then dismissed that thought as one of cheap hotel bed linen.
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something happened later still, when it was dark. i may still write about that. or maybe not.
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in any case: i think i will redo the hinge of the work and see what happens in the process. i will report.
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it may become a new thing.

sketchbook: Walter Benjamin’s One-Way Street

Gesa Helms added a post to the album [almost titled].

i read Benjamin’s Haschisch in Marseille (though in English). i want to be annoyed at it and subsume it under that bourgeois bloke who meanders, flaneurs along, unguarded and naive, seeing universality in all he does.
of course i am not.
i never read much of Benjamin beyond the Berlin childhood and Mechanical reproduction (i think my younger self never considered herself bourgeois, cultured enough to be illuminated into the arcades). there is so much in his that i recognise as a well-known modality of my own, sans l’haschisch, the receptive introspection and the meaning that shifts along, tumbles forwards, connects out while being thoroughly with oneself (at once in fragment and complete). then there is the recording, the protocol, the account.
— there is also something incredibly tender at play, there is a curious affective touching that goes on, almost in passing. (and i am thinking of that loud pose that Springgay and Truman strike with their call for affect, which drowns out the above, or perhaps also doesn’t quite know what do with that that they can’t categorise/ identify as white settler self and his others).
i had, this morning, when i dreamt up the modality for the meeting, also figured the relational forms that i am tracing, holding and letting go in the moving-with that i am doing. it is quite different too from any of the participatory stuff and aims at a social, it may just be boring social geography after all. it needs that social, both to understand the violence (close and far) but also to conceive of the tenderness, the longing. it needs a little trippyness too, i know where i get mine from, Benjamin clearly described his.
(work in progress)

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the————line as facebook album

— while reworking the line for a presentation in summer I am testing it out as a different format: a public facebook album, here:

https://www.facebook.com/gesa.helms.3/media_set?set=a.10215853324378587&type=3

edit:

— I am also suggesting to view via my timeline. If you are not friends with me, this will be easy, as there aren’t many public posts, if you are friends, you may have to scroll a little:

https://www.facebook.com/gesa.helms.3

BoW: what i will be doing

Gesa Helms

5 April at 13:18 · 

Wednesday morning I say what it is that I will be doing:
– a series of performance pieces/ drawings
– a couple of workshop/event things and 
– some documentation of the above.

That is it. 
The spatial praxis/ production of space/ site-thing will be part of it as building out and up from the encounters that constitute each. It will be utopian in its concrete practice. Nothing more, nothing less (I would love to call it Beziehungsweise Revolution/ relationally: revolution, but that title is already taken, unfortunately).
The documentation will be either in book or in moving image form.
Each segment/ section will address or: can address a particular question/ enquiry.
I am uncertain if the talks will be part of it or generally merely context. I think that is part of the wider question of what constitutes the site/ the work, i.e., really: if we talk an expanded field of drawing, do we need to have a sense of what is not part of it? what is absent? outside? and, why would that be useful. In that sense, I will have a consideration of distance/closeness in this too, and at that point it loops back into the overall thematic of drawing/contact.

The first four events in drawing/contact are intimate and in hindsight, retrospect. I am testing how these relate to the theme and what they do medium/discipline-wise. I am trying not to be too wilful with them, to let them hover for as long as they need to. In some ways, these take inspiration from the events around the line, and reworking the line for the workshop in July into a photo essay and presentation will be great. The drawing/contact encounters are different though as they transgress media/ reach. They are possibly less concerned with secrets and veracity but more curious about the contact, the stuff enacted, where and when it reaches, etc.

In this, then, the line, the Gap, and the wider corridor thematic are aufgehoben in the best dialectical sense: they are concluded and superseded into a qualitatively new question (I remember how for each time that aufheben needed translation I was stuck, as stuck as I am now as there is no equivalent in English).

sketchbook: secrets along the public and the private

Gesa Helms

6 April at 11:37 · 

secrets, along the private and the public.
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– the person who keeps calling to say that they know where Katrin Konert’s body is buried. they then hang up.
– the judge who places the burden of naming undercover cops on the women they deceived into intimate relationships
– the initiation secrets of the Hermit Triad of O.T.O. (sex magic)
– the book that I leave with my dad, which talks of how nostalgia for 1945-55 worked in reverse: it became darker as it receded into the past, what was being left out from the narration, then and now.
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with these, i turn to the notes when i started rewriting the line. it is less a rewriting that i did in autumn but a new iteration: so much new material assembled as i tried out if i wanted to write fiction. then the dying and leaving started in earnest and i only now loop back.
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i do not want to revise the work but i want to edit it anew. to see if a stronger focus is beneficial for it. but also: how do these images, which are after all still, not moving, hold up next to a written narrative. if i push the the temporal unfolding entirely to the viewer, reader and no longer let it animate through my voice. the line around secrets is reworked when i post this to facebook, as public album, having practiced already with […]
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i am such a slow worker with all these secrets. sometimes i worry that my life simply won’t be long enough for it all. in all this, we are firmly in surplus time, with both of them: it is fun, easy, joyful. we tell stories that are surplus and are having a good time with them. i love what i learned about the train station in Celle, of my mother’s routes through the biggest town she ever had a daily routine in. how on the next day she would fill in the gaps and connections between her teenage self, my teenage self and our contemporary selves right across the town, by foot and in the car. my dad was eager to learn about what we had seen and so i promised him to show him in summer, when i travel back from Macedonia.1 commentLikeShow More ReactionsCommentShare

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Gesa Helms this is one of the strongest pieces that i wrote in autumn, it is rather different to anything in the line, it puts the fragmentation right into the text and connects a number of themes and relationships through the movement along Gt Wester Rd (and, hey, my notetaking processes hold, it seems: i find things again)
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i sit invisibly in the dark window. the phone tracks my motions but not much else. i disappeared. again, never for long, each disappearance is an in-breath. yesterday and today i move back and forth. not quite rocking my upper body back and forth while sat on a chair, it bears resonance, witness. to other, i am doing chores, tracking apps and delivery routes.

earlier, i made my bed. i dress it in the new star-like dark blue grey cotton-weave. underneath: fluffy summer clouds. i crawl underneath and float, i can’t stop touching. it persists all night. i am sure i have found material form for her photos of me in cocoon. the night is warm, the space between my breasts collects sweat.

that night i kill. i am killed that night. i flee while moving downwards on material, structures that i do not understand. it doesn’t suffice: i am found. a large man with a wide red face and loud laughter. i wonder how the delicate structure still holds him. how can it. the structure is luminous and made for myself and yet, there is he and the other and they hunt. i swing my body up on the shelf above me and run, back through a field of high grass. someone, they, someone, different moves up behind. i reach the end and turn. this is my field i shout indignant. i have tended to it, it is not yet ready to unfold and i chase along. i realise it won’t suffice. it will not be enough.

i enter the room, he sits in front of me, a naked torso, his body turned away from me. i make the phone call. yes, i found him. it is him. michael. he turns around and i look into a mirror. but no mistake: i am michael. momentarily, the connection is interrupted. beeeep. beeeep. the familiar sound when she drives between one checkpoint and another. i briefly imagine her seeing the lights: on hilltops, bright and fortified, in the valleys, weaker, sparser, under siege.
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the path is a trail along beech and oak trees. it is a familiar route: out from the village I lived in as a small child, northwards. we have been often but not in a long time. the path is windy, narrow, we are a few. we come upon a group, at the centre a young woman, her face turned towards us, them, the world. they pour a substance over her, her face unmoved. she dies of the substance that solidifies her face. she, beautiful. we shouldn’t have seen.

i leave early to keep talking. her voice is breathless as she tells me how the day before the Anschluss, the people were dusting off little flags with swastikas and how they screamed themselves hoarse at his sight that 12 March 1938. then her voice breaks. i know that sound through the speakerphone as well as she knows mine. i try to think: do i remember her face with tears. i do not. when i see her face is the one that laughs. and when you laugh, i laugh too. always. beeep. beeep. she wants to call back and i will be at the subway soon. my face is wet the rain strong, it mixes with my tears. einen dicken kuss, beszede.

i return home and remember that my dirty linen from now on colour-coordinates my library. 

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sketchbook: Take this Waltz (2011, Sarah Polley) and Europe, she Loves (Jan Gassmann, 2016)

Gesa Helms

10 hrs · 

i watched two films which were quite different about love. Europe, she loves and Take this Waltz.
Both work in the transitions. Both are harsh on romantic love. Take this Waltz is a little bit too much early morning light meets ditzy Michelle, and yet, I love the cuts, the lingering. It has one of the nicest scenes of desire in a cafe I have watched in a long time. And then this: Music kills the radio star on my favourite fairground attraction. Then the lights go on. It closes with her going there again, by herself, in the end. Europe, she loves ends with the woman from Seville driving towards France, the one from Thessaloniki going to Italy.

Europe, she loves in full length here: 

<< both are flawed in different ways; Europe is too leery I find: both on the women’s bodies but also on the centre (a German filmmaker) watching the poor periphery; and, I really dislike Seth Rogen, the tweeness of their couple desires. Yet: keeping hold of the transitions. Take this Waltz has good lines to this effect: Margot talking about her niece as a newborn sometimes, possibly just stepping into the same inexplicable melancholy that she also falls into once in a while; her sister, drunkenly, much later calling her out on: lives just have gaps, that is just what is, but it doesn’t mean you should go about filling them.

Mubi has the habit of hitting play when I open the computer again, so I tend to head the closing credits from the night before early in the morning. I read on a little more and this is a nice write-up of what is good about Take this Waltz: it is ordinary about what we keep with ourselves when we move on, who we remain, what we seeks. https://mubi.com/…/take-this-waltz-then-move-on…

— this describes the opening scene, and we only discover right throughout at the end who the man is that walks by (but, we could have known: it is Seth who cooks in in her first home, not her). 

Sarah Polley’s most pronounced statement in regard to this uncouthness is the scene at the beginning and ending of the film. Margot is cooking at a stove (echoes of her husband) in her new apartment and she sits down in front of it and stares about, while she wonders, thinks, regrets?—we don’t know—just as Daniel (the one she leaves her husband for)wanders in, unfocused, and stares out the kitchen window, though at the end she eventually goes and hugs him, from behind. How can we understand love, loss, need, and other feelings? The images of an actress silently displaying a mix of feelings is the statement, which might only be a catch-22 leading to the cliché, life is hard.

… Wiki writes about her regretting leaving Lou/Seth — she might, but what happens in the last 10 minutes is a time forward piece that moves her and Daniel into a place similar to where she and Lou were, and thus demarcates a lack/ a loss/ a need unfulfilled (that then gets called out by her sister in the scene I mention above).

this is the early scene that tells us that it is about ‘missing connections’, it is a sweet unpicking of one’s own curious anxiety of ‘inbetweens’; Daniel later tells her he may have the same, his conclusion is to move away a few days later: