Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 20, 2010

Hot and hotter. Just back from Ireland which was cool cooler coolest. Green fields topped with clouds etched in black, ranging from white to dark grey. Shetland ponies and the most delicate chestnut horses along with black/white cows and sheep---all in high contrast to Rome's terra cotta burning! I wore all my sweaters for many of the days I was there, the poetry room particularly cold with sitting.

First though to go backwards, last Monday was it just the 12th? I rented a sailboat out of Ostia /Fumicino for the shoot as my 'free' boat never happened. Went with crew of two—Benoit as my Shelley stand-in (!) and Stefano from the Academy as the cabin boy, Eugenio g. who was the real captain will have to stand for Edward Williams who captained Shelley's boat. They all went down in a storm off Leirici. We had no storm however! It was sunny hot, but lovely on the ocean. After initial shooting, the light staying put at top of the day, we drank prosecco and ate Panini and afterwards, watermelon, diving off the boat into 83 meters deep of water while the captain tacked round us! Later we went in again in shallower water, anchored. As the sun began setting I started shooting again, catching the silhouettes of the 'crew'— abstractions, the water. Few clouds to speak of but hopefully the severity of the light, the black silhouettes, chasing the sun will work. I see the results tomorrow when I pick up from lab.

The day after sail, I trucked over to lab to drop off 'dailies' and then back to pack. By evening I knew I was sick which I still am—with cold? Sinus infection? Not sure—but had to go on. So I did.

Wed I fly out of Fiumicino reading roberto boleano's amuletto which is marvelous.
so much about history and love and living inside desire. the clouds out the window ecstatic caverns at the bottom of the world above ours. I talk to my fellow passengers: a black man Maximillian of the church about to fast for a month on a isle off ireland's coast and a woman named Martina—her father wanted a boy—so she says she doesn't even have her own name. i tell them i don't believe in god, i believe in the infinite. the words roll off my mind...i think mind rather than tongue..and i can tell they think i have no faith. i say god is inside us and she Martina says we could talk about this for hours. but i don't want to . god seems so much less to me. the world so much more

from boleano--i use this blog as an excuse to savour him, to share him:
"its all in the nerves. the nerves that tense and relax as you approach the edges of companionship and love. the razor sharp edges of companionship and love.

"His forehead was broad, but it didn't have the sort of breadth that suggests intelligence or sound judgement; it had the breadth of a battlefield, and the battle had been lost, to judge from the rest of his face: thin lank hair falling over his ears, a skull more like a dented bowl than a noble dome, light eyes staring at me with a mixture of suspicion and boredom. in spite of everything, i found him attractive (i'm a born optimist).

[hope you laugh at that last one. i did aloud]
"Tears, how many nights have i spent pondering them, to come to such meager conclusions."

We land in Dublin. Dobz, a lovely guy with big head of black dreads picks me up in his new Volkswagon sedan and drives me to Cork. The vista of the fields and the clouds and the cooling were marvelous.

The show is in an old tram station, large and voluminous, the screen nearly 12 feet high and just as wide. Grand as is the audience: 200-300 people. everyone surprised at the high turnout: artists, filmmakers, poets, critics, curators. Drinks first and films when the sky got dark enough--the ceiling skylit. Audience didn't laugh as much as i would though one woman later when i mentioned same, said "there was momentum in the row" (fabulously flat description i think)—this at a point in my film MIRROR WORLD when the vagina speaks—its very very funny, a slap in the face to Lacan which no one has to think of, just this gorgeous hairy slit mumbling...and then LIGATURES, the most recent, very simple but it almost made me cry—so profoundly about desire and mirroring.

People seemed to appreciate the work and kept in next five days appearing out of the woodwork: like the clerk at the food coop serving me suddenly whispering how much he liked the films or the Italian couple at another event not recognizing me and when hearing my name saying how much they enjoyed them.

Meanwhile, my nose is dripping yellow phlegm, heavier and heavier. Disgusting yes. Despite hot toddy and hot bath and lots of lemon and water. It is a full-fledged summer cold and everyone says it is harder to dispel. but dispel it i must so i am on benydril and vitamin c and sleeping alot in cool air with sun peering out from under clouds---it is all grey and greeny and silvery. exquisite little town of Cork, important port when under English rule. With a river at the center--actually the river splits so the downtown is an island.

Next day I give my reading. Feel good about it though an odd mix of readers: the first quite traditional, then me who I thought was strong, then a performer type from Cambridge. Solid all together. The readings got off to a slow start with the earlier one Thursday but they seem to be steadily improving.

Friday morning Dobz takes me out of town, tooling around the west coast of Ireland and stepping into the ocean there,

Cold clear and reminiscent of nova scotia which I miss---people are writing me to get on up there! Then we locate a fantastic restaurant since the Celtic Tiger of the past few years has way improved irish food. And I have the best prawns, really small lobsters I have ever had at an adorable place Dillons in seaside village of Timoleague. All go there please. You will have great food

That evening we meet up with Maggie O Sullivan who arrives who is amazing and I have been a fan for decades. Now talking and sharing. It was sweet, she in red with green bag and I in green with red bag. We were inverse twins. That Friday night we jump off in crazy taxi with driver who doesn't know cork to "couscous" at the cricket club (!) which had 30 poets reading 5 minutes a piece. It was odd and marvelous with one thinking repeatedly now why don't I try that in my poetry! Lovely and fun.
Saturday morning I go with Dobz and his girlfriend to row in a currachs. Which is an Old style irish rowing boat for the high seas. Four rowers rowing sticks (like big toothpicks) in a tar shell round wood ribs. We went down river---Cork is the venice of ireland or was— stepped back before the currents could catch us, stopped for coffee/tea and i got to row on return. Hard to get "in tune" but i did, you just follow the back before you. Nice to move the body for sure after all this traveling and sniffling.

More poetry again with Americans on that night. Mixed I thought but really enjoyed jean day's new book. Inspiring in its perfect control and jumpy observations. Not sensual particularly but controlled and ready with an earned calm.
That night at Trevor Joyce's place,

lined with books and poets and poetry—time for intimate conversations over poetics of poetry and film. Good conversation, then out at 1:30am onto rainy streets over cobblestones with black figures sliding through against the stone walls of the houses. A bit like Watts out of Beckett which has a scene here in Cork!

Last day a reading with irish language untranslated, wonderful slithery sounds, lots of a's and i's and then three young Cambridge boys: each good and each revelatory of their own space so there was a slice of sameness with all the differences already in place: the earnest quiet politico talking about Palestine, the gay boy dropping in and out of sex, the always jumpy one talking about topical events and California.

Off on afternoon train through gorgeous Ireland to Dublin where picked up by Aoife, pronounced eefa, a form of eve, who plys me with food —gorgeous —and takes me to Odessa Club which has an odd porno feel with its black leather and curtains. A small crowd watches, particularly fond of newest work, for which I am pleased. Next day still sick (stinks) and we tour galleries then on to airport for easy ride home. I get three seats (lucky me) and sink into dozing with snuffles.

B picks me up at airport (so kind) and takes me to dinner at biondo tevere, a Roman restaurant with a terrace over the river, then home to hot room at academy. I wake three times to shower before finally getting sleep and then up. We hope to go to procida; will hear later in the week.

Keep posted.
baci a tutti gli miei amici

Saturday, July 10, 2010

July 10th In Heat

July 10th, 2010

Still hot, I wake at 4am and put on light clothes to walk out to my studio, circle in a daze midst cooling breezes and return to sleep heavily, dreaming, my feet at bed's head pressed against cooler wood.

Summer is here and I am still going into water alternate days like the rest of Roma! Capocotta yesterday with B. and tomorrow with L. to outdoor pool. This is the life. Though the heat is calling me eagerly back to Nova Scotia....

Little birds drop into the coffee bar this morning, looking for crumbs, magical—like a painting— unafraid hopping. The city under heat and one does not willingly descend until dark.

Please note: The photos here are from Naples. Perhaps the marble statues can cool our hot skin?!

Yet i am still working. At the baths of Caracalla last weekend, I get thrown out when Michele (a student at Cinecitta) and I unwrap too slowly his professional tripod. We had been sitting there for two hours waiting for the light to improve. Two workers came out on a motorized golf cart and said they would call the police if we did not stop. Of course we closed up. I had only shot a minute unfortunately, gulls wheeling and screaming above the amazingly high walls. The baths are the model for Grand Central and the old Penn Station. So intense this huge block of buildings for Romans to bathe—men and women at different times. Hot and cold water pumped in from below. Elegant, immense.

The night before i had filmed off a motorino the city walls nearby with my still camera on video setting. I am going to try on serious motorcycle some late night dollies (moving shots to all you non-film types).

On similar foray, I have tried to locate a sailboat that can host a film shoot upcoming—my last big shoot for the Shelley film. A friend's boat fell through so I am renting for 300 Euros (!) one out of Fiumocino—the river near Ostia that goes out to the sea. Benoit will drive us and be a "stand-in " for Shelley since my Fellows—those Bressonian characters—cannot give me more time. Che peccato! Stefano a young filmmaker who works at the Academy and loved my work: he wrote me so beautifully: Your works are quite brilliant, ironic, sensual and fun (which are the adjectives that I personally use to describe the life that I wish). He comes to help out and perhaps be another "stand in" for Shelley's friend who dies with him on the boat almost 200 years ago.
We were to go to Porto Ercole, but this is actually easier if not as beautiful.

Previously Benoit has been driving me irregularly to the ocean early in the mornings and one time, on the way back he took me to Ostia Antica which was fabulous--- an abandoned city that at one point housed 80,000 people, excavated from the silt of the Tiber. Magnificent black and white mosaics--one sees from where Mussolini period mosaics are influenced (foro italico etc). There was a wonderful house of Cupid with patterned marble floor, a favorite sculpture of male and female embracing, a "sailor's bar" (!)complete with marble counter and private terrace, baths and storehouses, even a synagogue that i did not quite get to. it was hot and B was waiting reading in the shade. Another day he took me to Pliny's summer palace. More ruined, in between river and sea with b/w mosaic baths down a baked road. We are both slim enough to slip through the fence.

Benoit is a poet, whom I met when he came to Cryptoporticus show. He knows Kathleen Fraser—such a small world of international artists and serendipity! He has given me his books written in French and since we have been having such a nice time together, and inspired by my friend Christina who translated Russian texts, learning the language as she went along—I turned my hand to translating his book. It was amazing--intense and challenging, fun. B. thought i captured excellently the feel, rhythm, sound of it all. Such a wonderful way to understand another's inner life. I am thinking perhaps for Burning Deck to publish in the future....?

Meanwhile the menu has changed. We are now into green figs, fresh ricotta cheese and prosciutto. Spectacular and a rare (here at the Academy at least) fish meal yesterday with mussels and pasta, octopus salad as starter. How much i will miss this is un- imaginable!

What else? so much—Lauren picked me up on her scooter last Friday (after beach morning) to go to cafe jazz. We saw a wonderful band playing Cole Porter songs among other big band specialities in the open air . I have been invited to island—Procida— off coast of Naples by Swiss curator and will go there for long weekday or weekend hopefully before returning to USA. Two young women have interviewed me loving MIRRORWORLDS at the Santo Spirito in May. They came with others to look at work one, no two, weeks ago.

On Wednesday i finally went to Cinecitta. A friend of Peruvian origin who works in the archie there, Irela, got me in and through a number of odd concurrences I ended up with a pass, my camera and alone. It was miraculous. I was able to crawl over sets, fall through a destroyed stair even (!)—unhurt— and film wherever I went. The minute Irela showed up, the cops showed as well. We met up with some Montreal film historians who were somewhat jealous and even possessive that I was able to shoot while they with far more "professional" equipment were kept away. Ahhhh the advantage of the "amateur'.

Not least, I get a note back from Alessandro Alessandroni who is a composer who worked with Enio Morricone and who did soundtrack for Lady Frankenstein. I had written him to see if he would do soundtrack for my film. He wrote back! from Namibia and invited me to his country place to show him dvds to possibly compose for my film. I had to postpone returning home a couple of days as he was arriving in Italy the day I was flying out. An expensive plane switch but i had to try. Wish me luck!

The heat makes it so i can only work in front of a fan. Too hot hot hot but not as hot as NYC has been i understand. And luckily for me I go to ireland for 5 days next week (after sailboat shoot) as the heat shoots up over 100 here. I have a conference in Cork, with a show in Dublin. Looking forward to that as I have never been in Ireland and Kenny G. set this up saying the folks are wonderful.

So much excitement and writing this lets me see more clearly how exceptional this year has been, the days and weeks and months, so gloriously full and adventuresome. Perhaps one more posting before the end....?


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bracciano/Naples/Capocotta: July 1, 2010

July 1, 2010

It’s busy here and steadily getting hotter.
I’ve been playing every other day, swimming out of doors: weekend before last (Jun 18th ?) at Sperlonga, with friends Ross and Adair, first time there since the fall. Beautiful. The water cold on first take and then riding the waves you warm up. Almost as long to get there by car as by train, but more convenient return for sure. We climbed up the beautiful city on the rocks for a light late lunch —delicious —as always in Italy. We were with New Zealanders who were crazy happy when the following Sunday they held Italy’s soccer team to 1-1. I really have never been a fan but it’s fun gathering in the tv room and watching those beautiful boys kick balls around!
Then last Saturday, June 26th, —I believe I’ve lost track of days— with new pal Christina at Lake Bracciano—kayaking and swimming, eating lunch, swimming and kayaking to a better beach, swimming some more. She is pro kayaker and I can hold my own. What a wonderful adventure! The lake is large, a reservoir for Rome (why they let us swim there I do not know?). Christina is head of Harvard’s poetry archive and an adventurer who matches my spirit nicely plus very very funny about university characters and lovers and the strangeness of our “bubble” here. We have had many many laughs. She leaves tomorrow sadly.
It has really been marvelously serendipitous the way people come and enter my life here. Patricia Tinajera is a sculptor artist from Ecuador, working in Tennessee and she was a wonderful companera as well. We went shopping for dresses on Tuesday a week or so ago and had lots of fun, plus we did studio exchange visits. She is smart, talented, funny and kind. I know both of these women I will see again.
As well Rome is showing me friends left and right. Wendy Artin, an artist here who lives in Rome has hosted me for dinner which is lovely to be in a Roman home with her two beautiful children plus handsome husband, who owns a travel book shop on Via Pelligrino. She does classical drawings very strong and swims at the same club as i—so we went out down to the pool together one late morning happily.
On June 10th I opened in a group show at Spazi Aperti, at the Romanian Academy with two parts from L’impero Invertito. They looked good, “poignant” said one woman who had seen them at the Academy. In this context they were more tender if that’s possible. It was total fun to ride on a new friend’s motorcycle in the heat, with the wind moving around. (I was careful to wear tights under my dress.) The show was particularly well curated I thought in the cortile basement so that was nice as that was where my videos were. The closing was on June 24th and another new friend B showed up. He lives in Trastevere and had wandered into the Academy show and seemed to like the work. We walked out from the Romanian academy and it was an almost full moon night with the magnificent soft air so we walked and walked and talked. He is a poet, knows Rome well —is French, lived here 8 years I think? Knows my friend and poet Kathleen Fraser (such odd serendipities yes?)—and shares his knowledge. A wonderful night— lovely dinner at CafĂ© Edy (this was a place I had been to in the fall) and then wondering from the wealthiest store windows (like some kind of magic house---occasionally showing only one red shoe with studs!) and then through the Jewish quarter where 200 men were milling around as presumably they do every night. Strangely tribal or Arabic, only three women on the corner of the crowd. I the only woman to walk through. B showed me the turtle fountain and a special stair up through Trastevere where Nano Moretti filmed. I will need get the name of that film and check it out. Such a memorable evening.
Then Monday after the Lake we went to a beach, Capocotta—or cooked head! We left early and it was marvelous. Swimming great, viewing as well and building a careful tan. He has a car so it is easy. We go tomorrow again! I am looking forward to it.
Yesterday to Napoli with Stephen Westfall. I am working every other day!
Naples was wonderful— a mix of Palermo and Cairo. Intense colorful, a kind of 34th street in NYC. We first stopped at church with magnificent Caravaggio—my favorite large-scale work of his so far. With all the Caravaggio shows I have seen this year, we have seen almost all of his work: two large retrospectives in Rome, one in Florence and the odd ones in Naples and Sicily and in churches throughout Rome. Amazing.
On to the Duomo where we saw Peragino (which I miraculously recognized though it was not identified—the guard told us later). There is something in his landscapes, color and tenderness of the faces that suggested it was his to me. We also saw a fading Giotta and wonderful Domenichinos. Then onto the Madre which is a contemporary museum…quite great in terms of curatorical choices: very specific, related to the area interestingly: for example a Warhol of a volcano, beautiful. This is Vesuvius territory of course. There was a Franz West retrospective on and I don’t really know him well so that was good to see. He is very influential. You can see Rachel Harrison coming out of his blobs and also Rachel Whiteread. He is funny, a montage artist from Austria. Powerful show.
Then onto the Anthropological museum which was incredible: the Farnese marbles and Pompei frescos were overwhelming. The statues either huge or just simply beautiful and memorable —some from the baths of Caracalla: eros riding a dolphin, an amazon almost falling off her horse. Handsome men in pairs or older men very muscled. Glorious glorious. The Pompeian paintings are truly remarkable. I have now to go to Ostia and then Pompei if possible? Will I make this?
I still need to finish up some shooting . a sailboat is happening next week for the death of Shelley ! and this weekend I go to film the baths of Caracalla.
All this —after another 5 hours back and forth to Roma Est to the apple store for my computer on Monday AFTER the beach—I am still working hard it seems. Did get new one and still having trouble with Microsoft. Damn those apple guys. But happy. Things are moving along.
No time to relax except when it is immense relaxation …somewhere splendida . Life here is amazing. I am relishing every minute of this bubble. When the days appear where we are not fed, I am in shock. What will I do when real world enters? For now it is all poignant all pleasure intense with friends and light and heat and art.

I am loving Rome. It is where one falls in love, with the city and with a lifestyle that is sensual, rich in visual pleasure.
A presto mi amici