there is no such thing as a statue

guys!

i wrote a damn short story, yes it is true, the first one in eighteen years.

how the fuck did that happen?

well, i was asked by inke arns of hartware medienkunstverein to write something for a publication to document our tour of poland this last fall (hmkv presents “industrial on tour”). i was invited to contribute whatever i wanted to this book that would include articles from tour comrades & curators inke, thibaut de ruyter, daniel muzyczuk & michal libera.

originally, stressed the fuck out with my impending move to berlin among other things, i planned to write a short associative text, perhaps a prose poem, with some of my impressions from poland. but i put this off long enough that something else began to grow in my head, a kind of character & voice. then i had a little flash about how to tie it all together, a remembrance of something someone told me in gdansk, a rumor that the solidarity museum is going to have a statue of margaret thatcher in one of its rooms.

boy, i must be an angry fucking person somewhere, because this little narrative device bloomed in to a full fledged short story which i proceeded to devote all my time to despite all the other shit i was supposed to be taking care of. when i say all my time i really mean all my time in the bar after everyone had already left me & gone home. that proved to be the best time to spit this thing out.

so, here it is, for your enjoyment! in all honesty, this story, despite all its bile, is a very very heartfelt little love letter to my vanmates, & indeed to poland itself. it’s meant as a kind of oblique tour diary, with a lot of inside baseball, but i think it works if you just read it cold. so once again i would like to take this occasion to thank inke, thibaut, daniel, michal & all of our hosts & guides in poland for everything they did to make the tour the greatest ever.

enjoy!

oh yeah, &: FUCK MARGARET THATCHER.

 

 

 

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A STATUE

I.

I was a troubled young man, industrious for nothing.

I’d like to think I was an outsider artist, but in reality I was just an outsider iron pourer. The better part of my twenties were spent sweating my stones off in a foundry, taking endless laps with a ladle, not knowing what better to do with myself, frozen dithering in a flurry of sparks and artificial lava. The ships were still sliding off the ramps in Gdansk and there was still shelter in preoccupation. This would be the mid-nineties.

I didn’t talk much to the other guys on the crew or really to anyone much at all back then. I was awkward and caught up in my own maundering proofs, often silently brooding over what I believed to be some kind of pioneering existential investigation for the full length of a twelve-hour weekend shift. In retrospect, such an investigation usually simply, moronically boiled down to the question of whether life was essentially good or bad, something that I later learned didn’t really matter much and in fact didn’t go much deeper than whether you had enough money for dinner, and whether you then paid enough attention to your dinner if you did. My father and his buddies had had purpose and struggle, but I had no clear-cut adversary that I could name. So I organised a sit-down strike in my own mind and occupied those humble quarters till I was almost thirty.

Not to imply that I wasn’t at home in the foundry itself: I was a good iron pourer because I punished myself, I liked tiring my body out in the hopes that it might shut off my thoughts for a little while. Everybody thinks it looks like hell on earth inside an oldschool foundry, but if you spend enough time there it starts to feel very comforting, like you are a busy microbe inside a big animal or a baby in a warm womb. I know that sounds crazy to a lot of people, but you get used to it, you have the ear plugs in and all, it’s dark, which is also comforting, just dark enough. The world is comfortingly simple. Plus I guess I had all these positive associations from coming to hang out at work with my dad as a kid. He was a furnace tender. The foundry was the earliest otherness that I ever encountered, the place where foreign stuff became no longer foreign. All the guys who came from all over Poland, the Soviet customers and guests of honor from all over the empire, the weird slang on the meltdeck and my dad cursing, which he never did at home, but which I was initiated into in the shop with a look that said that this was our thing from now on. Christ, I found my first porn in a foundry bathroom garbage can. It’s truly a wonder that I don’t have any serious foundry fetishes, like that I can get off without smelling greensand, or that I don’t pay women to cover me in soot and rub me down in pumice soap. But I do feel instantly calm in a foundry, so who knows, maybe some mysterious component floating in the hazy air there is my very own Imipolex G after all. In any case the place is forever imprinted on my five senses and probably even fostered the growth of extra senses that I still sometimes have occasion to use today.

For instance: I used to listen with my feet, my feet used to listen. I knew this brutal, soothing music of the foundry by heart, couldn’t hear it with my earplugs in as much as feel it, a complex, primeval, incubating symphony of vibration running through my whole body. When something went wrong, a missing thud was my cue: I sprang into action, I autocorrected, I righted what could be righted until my feet told me that everything was alright. Then the music would grind on again stoically and I could get back to my dialectics, inner ear listening to inner voice, the rest of my body like one big, taut piezo rooted to the floor.

When the ice of so many decades finally thawed, when we became too expensive for a fair fight with the mills of China, when the new orders slowly trickled to a halt and the shop finally closed down, the familiar music left me and my feet. I was left to my own devices, confronted with the strange absence of massive real-life drone and consistent employment, suddenly making my little internal strike less and less tenable; and my feet, not really schooled in walking away and lacking musical input, it felt like they had left me too.

It took me a long time to feel my feet again, but when I finally did, I knew where I wanted them to take me. I had started to find a curious pleasure in the pieces of junk I’d salvaged from the obscure encroaching rot and ruins of my old haunt. Pleasure in assembling them, welding them together, banging on them, making scenes and figures out of all manner of metal trash, conceiving large, clumsy contraptions that all sang in their own cracked way. That’s how it all started. Somewhat to my surprise and to the complete surprise of everyone around me, I became something of an artist.

II.

The first time I heard about the plans for the Margaret Thatcher statue at the Solidarity Museum they are building in Gdansk, I was already living in Bytom. Jacek, a friend from back in the day, told me about it while he was down south for a visit. Margaret fucking Thatcher. I could understand the Pope, you can’t tell the story without the Pope, whatever you may think about him. Even Ronald Reagan, as much as I detested his loathsome B-movie politics, I could still understand it. A lot of older Poles still have a real Hollywood-sized hard-on for the guy.

But Margaret Thatcher? Margaret fucking Thatcher? Margaret “There is No Such Thing as Society” Thatcher? In the solidarity museum?!? At least the other fucks were dead. The fucking Iron bleeding Lady however, she, she might even hover around long enough to make it to see the unveiling ceremony!

“I don’t suppose there is an open call for submissions for her statue.”

“Nope, don’t suppose so, that ship has probably long since sailed,” Jacek sighed.
He could see that I was extremely agitated.

“You ought to send in something though, just for the fuck of it.”

We both smiled slowly at each other, wild toothy smiles, as the bile rose high enough to turn the wheels inside.

III.

At first I thought about building a statue out of bird shit, perfect for this pampered indoor statue that no pigeon would ever have the pleasure of crapping on. I wrote a stirring, straight-faced proposal about how I would source the excrement from pigeons who had been rigorously denied bread crumbs. I would have an ordinance passed in Bytom, criminalizing the feeding of pigeons. Yes, feeding pigeons, indeed dropping any kind of crumbs, even accidently, would be made illegal, discouraged by stiff financial penalties. Our pigeons would be forced to spend all their idle hours on my little libertarian island fending for themselves, or risk resettling to the surrounding mine-riddled countryside. I would pay laid-off mine workers a decent wage to scrape the droppings off of every reachable surface in our fine city. We would be a bird shit collecting collective, we would have songs and meetings and slogans and maybe an amateur brass band or a swim team and we would pioneer interspecies art with our cooing brothers. We would mold a form worthy of my dad and his comrades’ resolute, prolonged and dignified fuck-you-and-fuck-all-this-shit-in-its-authoritarian-eye, worthy of their triumph in the face of secret everything, in spite of so many stick beatings and snipers and fear. We would build this unlikely monument and send it to Gdansk. As I said, my proposal was nothing if not stirring.

But, alas, you can’t build a statue out of bird shit. Civilization has not yet progressed this far, at least not in Poland. At least not with the resources available in Polish art supply or hardware stores. Maybe if I had the budget of that asshole in New York who got famous for building those “waterfall” fountains which are removed from their normal shopping mall context, maybe then I could get the state-of-the-art lab necessary, refine the production process through trial and error, pay an army of chemists to work around the clock. It’s certainly not like I couldn’t have found a thousand people to scrape birdshit off of other statues. The capacity was there, I know people. I am an empathetic, persuasive man in the most economically depressed region in Poland. Yes, there was definitely hope for my crap gatherers’ syndicate. But I did a little test early on with normal, bread-fed, scraped pigeon shit and it was not promising to say the least. I tried to make a mini Napolean bust with a French buddy of mine one wine-drenched night and it ended up looking more like the lovechild of Serge Gainsbourg and Captain Crunch. And that for only about twenty minutes until it dried and fell apart. Undaunted, for a number of weeks I tried my hand at a range of other mixtures, preparations and techniques, never with satisfactory results, I’m afraid. At least not enough to present a convincing prototype. I documented my work for myself, and resolved to send the proposal to the museum committee anyways.

Less than a week later, I received my application back with a form letter. The rejection was written on stationary that featured a logo of what I believe was supposed to be a mustachioed man pole-vaulting an impossibly high brick wall, but it was so small it looked more like an ant trying to eat a stack of legos with a single chopstick. It contained the following sentence: “Although the selection committee has already finalised the list of contributing artists, we would like to take the time to thank you warmly for your inspiring efforts and your interest in commemorating the figures who helped us to get where we are today.”

You should never give a provincial late bloomer this kind of attention; copy and pasted or not, it will only serve to encourage him. It gave me a very deep kind of satisfaction. It made me feel entirely, absolutely irrelevant, so far away from that magical kingdom where history gets made, and at the same time deeply connected to everybody and every event around me, I can’t explain it. I resolved that my first submission would not be my last.

IV.

Over the course of the next seven or eight months, I sent in a couple dozen proposals with widely varying degrees of detail and documentation. They ranged from exhaustive accounts of the envisioned construction process, accompanied by elaborate models and renderings and photographs of prototypes, to ultraeconomic, koan-like single sentences above tiny, naive sketches. For the statues that were to have an audio component, I even got a filmmaker friend to help me make little animated music videos of our Tory protagonist getting her compassionless groove on.

The following is a selection of some of my more concrete submissions:

There was Death Watch Thatcher. I came up with her after observing how some of my English internet forum buddies always bumped the Thatcher thread whenever she landed in the hospital, awaiting her last breath with an anticipation that even almost made me feel uncomfortable. This rather straight-forward statue was to be adorned simply with a rectangular digital countdown clock seemingly suspended from her neck and resting on her chest, like an identifying plaque. This clock would show the forecasted time most likely remaining for Maggie in this life. Ideally she would cooperate: she would agree to wear sensors monitoring her vital signs, sensors whose readings would be continuously fed into a supercomputer that would crunch the numbers based on actuary tables and the like and send a figure to the clock which would be updated every five to ten seconds. Of course the very presence of the machines monitoring her vital signs would probably lengthen her life, a fact that we would also have to take into account when designing our algorithm. I was grudgingly willing to accept this unfortunate byproduct. In fact, I was hoping to use this angle to sell her on the concept.

Then there was The Iron Maiden Lady. As the name pretty much gives away, this was to be an approximation of the in-all-likelihood aprocryphal torture device molded to evoke the former Prime Minister’s stature and with her likeness cast on the outside. The shell would be ajar, with its contents showing slightly. I couldn’t decide whether a life-sized Lech Walesa should be peeking out from between the spikes forlornly, or whether a hundred tiny British miners should be trying and failing to pry their way out with pickaxes. In the end I mocked up both options.

Next came Piss-on-her-own-Grave Thatcher, inspired in equal parts by those well-known dolls that have self-wetting skills and by the conservative doctrine of self-reliance. Piss-on-her-own-Grave Thatcher would be depicted squatting over her last terrestrial resting place, the earth newly laid and fecund. Visitors would be invited to enter a small cubicle housing a pissoir or bidet-like urinal where they could relieve themselves in private, from whence the urine would be channeled to the statue which would visibly “water” her own plot, the urine trickling down through the soil before being collected and sent to the sewer. It would stink, but hey, art is not all tulips and roses. In one version I had a little booth with farmers selling fresh sauteed asparagus off to the side of the cubicle. I also spent the better part of three days debating the merits of having a variation for guys, with a larger bathroom with a trough for pissing, so that the activity would have an even more collective aspect, but decided in the end for a solution that didn’t draw lines between the differing ways that the sexes go about their business.

There was also the noise-inspired Screaming Lady (alternatively dubbed “Margaret Thrasher”), for which I actually built a full-size, fully-functioning prototype which plays a role later in this account. This was essentially a fairly realistic, normal statue which housed a powerful, super compact PA, designed by a noise musician friend of mine from Katowice. The statue was further equipped with a portable music player connected to the PA as well as a self-made type of motion sensor that is capable of detecting the relative number of people in a room, that is to say their density and rough proximity to the sensor, more or less accurately. These sensors were then connected to the volume control of the media player, through a program that another friend of mine in Bytom was kind enough to work up for me. The basic premise was that the volume was meant to go from a whisper when the room was crowded to a full-on hysterical scream when nobody was in the hall. I imagined lone visitors entering the room, drawn by the horrific but oddly siren-like ranting of an old woman, only to witness her retreat more and more into mumbling to herself as they got closer and more visitors slowly wandered in and approached her. I had endless bar stool conversations debating what should be on the recording. At first, I was pretty close to having her scream “Let them eat hobnobs!” Then my personal favorite for a while was “Let them eat English food!” but I was the only one who thought that was somehow really hilarious. In the end I decided on the quote that had come to my mind when I initially talked to Jacek and which had enraged me so much in the first place, enough to drive me to spend so much time on this hopeless project. Yes, my detested Maggie would spit out, “There is no such thing as society!” at the top of her iron lungs until her voice became as distorted as her vision of human evolution.

I will spare you detailed descriptions of Sniper Thatcher, with her original Polish secret service rifle like the ones that shot down three striking shipyard workers in Gdansk so long ago, Scab Thatcher, with its inhererent challenge of trying to make her priviledged face look hungry, Milkless Maggie, depicted denying her bare breasts to a line of British school tots and even the whimsical Solo Thatcher, all alone, frozen in carbonite for shipment to a purgatory that can proudly boast of having the funds to call in the finest of bounty hunters. There were many more, but this is an adequate sampling for our purposes.

Suffice it to say that I wasn’t wanting for ideas.

V.

Paul Kelleher is my new hero.
I discovered him while researching my adversary.

From wikipedia:

Decapitation of a statue of Margaret Thatcher

On July 3, 2002, Paul Kelleher decapitated a £150,000, 8-foot, 1.8 tonne marble statue of the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on display at the Guildhall Art Gallery in central London.

Having unsuccessfully swiped the statue with a Slazenger V600 cricket bat concealed in his trousers, Kelleher used a metal rope support stanchion to decapitate the statue. After the beheading, he waited to be arrested by the police who arrived minutes later. He said on capture, “I think it looks better like that.”

The statue had been commissioned in 1998 from sculptor Neil Simmons by the House of Commons Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art, paid for by an anonymous donor and intended for a plinth among statues of former Prime Ministers in the Members’ Lobby of the House. However, the House did not permit a statue to be erected there during its subject’s lifetime, so the statue was temporarily accommodated in the Guildhall. It was unveiled there by Thatcher in May 1998. Following the loss of its head, it was removed from display. Although it was estimated that the work could be repaired for £10,000, statue experts worried that it would never be the same.

At Kelleher’s first trial, he said in his defence that the attack involved his “artistic expression and my right to interact with this broken world”. The jury, despite nearly four hours of deliberation and a direction from the judge that it could decide by majority, failed to agree on whether or not he had “lawful excuse.” He was retried in January 2003, found guilty of criminal damage and sentenced to three months in jail.

In 2007 a new statue of Thatcher, commissioned in 2003 from sculptor Antony Dufort and this time more safely in silicon bronze, was erected on the reserved plinth in the Members’ Lobby. The rule against living subjects had been relaxed and Thatcher unveiled the statue.

By then, the marble statue had been repaired, but it remains in the Guildhall Art Gallery.

Not just any cricket bat, mind you, a Slazenger V600! I would like to meet this Paul Kelleher, get drunk with him, though it’s fifty-fity whether the guy enjoys a drink now and then or not, get drunk with him and ask him what his thought process was in choosing the appropriate cricket bat. Were the criteria emotional or dispassionate? Was it his father’s bat, had he run tests? So many questions. I’m having a hard time picturing just exactly what a metal rope support stanchion looks like, but I’m glad Mr. Kelleher brought backup.

“Statue experts worried that it would never be the same.”
Oh, statue experts, take heart, you are not alone.

I have become convinced, rabidly convinced, that this is the Thatcher statue that ultimately belongs in the Solidarity Museum, the cold, unswayed marble lady with the Frankenstein scar all the way around her neck.

I will send one last proposal on behalf of my new hero.

VI.

The night before the concert in the ruins of the old cement factory outside Bytom, after our last planning meeting, four of us end up in Uganda Club, a tiny, dank basement disco bar in the city’s pedestrian zone with low ceilings adorned with the Silesian Highland’s fantasy vision of authentic African trappings. When I ask the barmaid why it’s called Uganda Club, between flavored vodka shots, she rolls her eyes at my obvious lack of inductive skills, shrugs her shoulders and gestures at the decor.

Later on, we dance to an empty room on a cramped riser while three miners’ girlfriends shimmy spookily, exquisitely, minimally in the corner, all looking in the same direction, transfixed by their impossibly faint reflection in an exposed corner of plexiglass. Still later, we stumble around town looking for an open bar with the best-looking one of them, even stopping to share some passing dude’s cigar in the middle of an intersection, until Marcin, my closest buddy, asks me for the third time to just take him home, please please please.

I meet Radek with a hangover like rabies the next morning. I would endure ten thousand shots right into my stomache to not feel the way I do. Just as I have this exact thought, ironically a leashless stray runs up and reminds me once again that I need a dog. Even a Bytom mutt like this that never learned the second step of fetch, I don’t care. I’m no longer officially mourning Enabler, I’m ready to open my heart and home to a new best friend.

Young Radek is to be my assistant. He has a second-hand t-shirt on. It says “I’d rather be in Poland” and has a retarded eagle on it, a fucking alcoholic eagle by the looks of it, with red cheeks and a red beak even. I worry that he isn’t going to be much help. We get in the vehicle, already loaded with the DIY stacks, and head out to the abandoned cement factory. I roll the van window all the way down and take in the casual parade of campaign billboards for what they are: an absurd semiotic blend of the technocratic and archaic. I am so very very disillusioned, I may as well vote based on facial hair. And this guy, this guy now staring me down plumply from the billboard off to the right, this guy whose name means elephant with the little elephant figurine on his desk, this guy has three strikes against him already. That hair! Those eyebrows! That mustache! A statistical improbability, a Polish singularity. But what am I to do, my heroes aren’t running. Dudes who take cricket bats to statues, noiserock musicians, sculptors, these folks so seldom go into politics.

We get to the cement factory and unload the PA with a bunch of cheery volunteers from Kronika, little helper ants who ferry the speakers one at a time along the winding paths and tortuous crumbling steps and ledges that lead down into the “Cathedral,” with its lofty, precarious ceiling that is slated for demolition next month for safety reasons. Ever since a wedding photographer narrowly escaped getting his head done in on another spot, the city has been hesitant to let nature run her course. We’re here tonight to see if Maggie can do them a little favor, resigned to the inevitable, as much as we would prefer to leave human hands off of the story that’s been unfolding unassisted here for over a century.

“In the end the brides come, in the end the wedding photographers come,” I think, surveying the dirt-floored expanse. That’s the way these things tend to play out. Even today, early Friday afternoon, there is a couple here for postnuptial posing. The bride has hiking boots on that she trades in for lacy heels as soon as they reach the Cathedral. A single fussy squirrel regards her curiously and then splits in a hurry. In spite of, or perhaps in fact precisely because of the virgin white dress I have the incongruous epiphany that random shreds of printed porn are nowadays conspicuously absent in our little postindustrial sanctuary, probably never to return again. I wonder for a second if kids feel less of a connection between sex and the abandoned, the outdoors, nature, dirt, all of that stuff, due to this development.

The Screaming Lady, aka Margaret Thrasher, is already waiting for me in the Cathedral. I get to work wiring up the system for sound and connecting the Baroness to it while the others set up the generator outside. By six o’clock, after a brief but brutally loud soundcheck, we’re done and I take a couple of hours to wander around on my own and smoke before the concert is to start officially, as the sound of guests arriving and the warm-up DJ’s industrial mix slowly fill the ruins. Somewhere off in the distance a handsaw chews away at an iron dinosaur leg, the familiar sound of resourceful scavengers harvesting meltable skeletons bone by bone. I’m anxious and moody and my favorite chorus from my favorite band of all time is stuck on repeat in my mind: Prince of Peace or King of Poland / just pick a fucking side and stick with it. I try to focus my mind on the vibrations travelling through the ground, on the sounds of the forest and the changing leaves and by the time I get back to the Cathedral I’m more relaxed, though certainly still eager to get on with the show.

They’re all here tonight: Michal, who has found his definitive hairstyle, and now looks eerily similar to my grandpap, classic class; Janek, who has come down from Gdansk just to see the the fruits of his prompting; Marcin, without whose help I could never ever have gotten this whole endeavor off the ground; permastoned Radek, who to my delight has nevertheless turned out to be a very able assistant over the course of the day, ironic eagle or no; Kuba, who always punches consistently above his weight when it comes to girlfriends; Joannke, who shows mercy when I put my foot in my mouth repeatedly after a couple drinks; shy Andrzej from Turnow, whose father, a fertiliser plant manager, is visiting and has joined him; even tiny Kasia, the wandering art history student, is here, grinning as always for no apparent reason. I’ve seen her in so many places around Poland and still don’t know exactly where she calls home, she doesn’t live here as far as I know. In all there must be a good fifty or so people in the audience, not a bad turnout at all for Bytom. There are even a couple of foreign curators on some kind of tour here for a couple days (German? or French? or German and French? I failed to catch their names exactly when Jacek introduced me to them). They are polite and funny and wish me luck before taking seats on a huge concrete ledge at the back of the room.

After a short welcome and introduction to the piece to be performed, I give a kind of extra safety briefing while Marcin passes out the plastic hardhats and goggles. I explain in no uncertain terms that once everyone has left the Cathedral and the music grows louder and louder, that no one is to return under any circumstances. I ask them to be extra vigilant not to leave anything, or indeed anyone, behind. I emphasise that the PA itself is a kind of sacrificial offering, built to be buried under the buckling roof of this stately dome. “Don’t worry about the stacks,” I say smiling, “They were all resuscitated once already, all made from scrap. They are proud to have been chosen for one final mission.” After a couple of questions from the audience and a final remark, everyone gathers in a fairly tight circle around the statue. I walk up to Mrs. Milk Snatcher, reach behind her left ear and throw the switch.

At first her muttering is barely audible, little more than a conspiratorial whisper, the s’s of “such” and “society” resonating slightly in the area near the statue. After a while, I take a couple steps back and the others follow suit, widening the loose circle. Now Maggie has begun to lecture us with a clear, entitled tone, as if she feels more confident of the universality of her message. The entire sentence is clearly audible now and begging for emphasis. My mind, doing its best to help her, starts to shift the stress internally onto different syllables with each repetition: “there,” then “as,” then “-ty,” grasping at straws, as if my resistance to the statement’s potential truth might until now have merely been the product of some faulty phrasing on her part. Some minutes later, I take another ten steps back and the others start to spread out a little bit in small clumps, a couple maybe even head for the door, bored. Within a few minutes the voice has started to grow uncomfortably loud, indeed outright stentorian and noticeably distorted, and the Cathedral is beginning to resonate in earnest. One repetition blends into the next as the tail end of “society” echoes and the source of the sound is less easy to locate. Within five more minutes, the crowd has thinned out significantly, with many of the remaining guests hovering near the exits anxiously. This only seems to enrage the former Prime Minister further. She is ranting hysterically now, out on her own in the middle of this makeshift common space, for a few seconds I am convinced that her head is smoking, though later I think that it may be dust that has been stirred from the ceiling. Her objectivist mantra has now reached a fever pitch, it is bordering on pure distortion, and it is now that Marcin, who has slipped outside, begins to lay on the processing, until the banshee cry is soon joined by a bassy moan. After a shuddering minute or two, I turn to the remaining five or so scattered audience members and signal that it’s time for us to head to the door. The whole concert so far has taken maybe twenty minutes, as skittish as we all are, understandably reluctant to stick around too long and inadvertently join Maggie under the potential cave-in rubble.

Outside Marcin, Jacek and I block the doors to the Cathedral, make a quick toast with a beer and mad dog chaser to the fact that nobody got killed and start to drive the PA mercilessly towards its physical limits. At this point I am still convinced that collapse is imminent, but half an hour and several beers and flavored vodka shots later I am less confident, as the sound from inside seems to indicate that our speakers are burning out one by one. I decide that the DJ we’ve placed in the clearing across from the Cathedral should start early, to distract from our anticlimactic electroacoustics and make sure that the Kronika people still have the good time that they deserve for helping out so much. This seems to work and soon everybody is partying happily over in the stony lot. We let the Baroness play on over what’s left of the PA for another half hour, drinking beer and trying to console ourselves that it was after all an experiment and at least now we know the outcome, before we finally pull the plug.

Before going to join the others, Marcin and I risk a look inside the Cathedral. Nothing of note seems to have fallen from the roof, though the entire place is extremely hazy, so it’s pretty hard to tell. Margaret Thatcher, aka Margaret Thrasher, is still standing upright in the acrid smog. I give her a good kick in the ass and she sways. Then I pace angrily around her mute metal frame for a couple of minutes, until Radek, who has snuck in wearing a gas mask, sprints up behind her, his cock apparently already hanging out from what I can see, and proceeds to piss on her base for what seems like a full minute, both arms wrapped around her waist for support. “Your fucking statue doesn’t exist without society!” I slur-scream at her, and Radek, howling with laughter, lopes back out and disappears as quickly as he entered the scene. “YOUR MOTHERFUCKING STATUE DOESN’T EXIST WITHOUT SOCIETY!!!” I scream repeatedly at the top of my lungs, until I begin to get hoarse, Marcin starts to gently drag me away from the statue, and I realise that the concert is over and it’s time to join the others.

By the end of the festivities, we are of course not anywhere near sober enough to drive. We debate sleeping in our van, but Antje and Bertrand, the visiting curators, who are still hanging out and talking to Jacek, are kind enough to offer us a lift back in to town. In the back of their van, leaning on Marcin, I am still more than a little bit disappointed with my treachorous Maggie.

“If we had just built a couple more speakers…” I sigh.
“Yeah and if Jesus had started that first carpenter’s union maybe those dudes wouldn’t have had to work overtime on those crosses.”

VII.

A couple months after our failed DIY sonic demolition effort, I got an email out of the blue from Antje, the curator, who it turned out was indeed German, thanking me again for the concert. She wrote me how she and Bertrand are planning a large exhibition in Germany for next year on the overall topic “Industrial.” Apparently they talked to Jacek at length after the concert and he was enthusing about my letter writing campaign. She expressed interest in seeing all the documentation when she’s in Warsaw next month and hinted that maybe it would be possible to realise one of my proposals in Dortmund next year. I was floored and of course made a date to meet up with her in my favorite bar in Nova Praha in a couple weeks. Then before we could even meet up, Bertrand, who is of course French, wrote me too, a couple days later, a very charming email, saying he’d seen some copies of my photos and renderings in Kronika and that he’d talked to Antje and they both agreed that I should definitely be included and they wanted to give me plenty of time to work on the statue or statues. Statues? Statues!?! Hell yeah, statues.

They have expressed particular interest in Bird Shit and Piss-on-her-own-Grave Thatcher. They even said that they could help hook me up with local people who would assist me in realising my plans. Germany. I’ve seen a few of their films for grown-ups and I’m more than familiar with their engineering prowess, but I’m still a little sceptical. I guess I’ll believe it when I see it. Still I am incredibly, undeniably excited. I’m supposed to fly to Dortmund early next year to see the space, which they assure me is huge.

Looks like I better get scraping.

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