Wednesday, April 30, 2008
"The General Public is a statistical fiction created by a few exceptional men to make the loneliness of being exceptional a little easier to bear"
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
A friend of a friend took their 11 year old neice to see it. The little girl came out of the gallery saying, "so, they guy was gay... he needs to get over it."
It seems to me that can only be the fault of the curator. It would be a little like coming out of an exhibition about the suffragettes and hearing someone say, 'so they were women...'
So, regardless of the possible merits or otherwise of the exhibition at the Serpentince I'd decided a long time ago to do something more on Jarman here this year and so here is my own little exhibition for your purusal.
I give you Derek Jarman, renaissence man, film-maker, painter, writer of achingly beautiful prose and photogenic gay saint.
Tacitus tells us of a spectral tattooed army, the Pictish Britons nude in the colour of the Ethiopians, Caeruleus. Dark blue, not the sharp blue from the paint tube."
"5th November 1991
Last night it was very cold, fireworks and rockets flaring in the sky. I went up to the Heath early because I was fed up getting in so late, I would be back before midnight which makes it easier to get up in the morning.
Two men had built a bonfire, others were standing round keeping warm. A young man stopped me. He very much liked Edward II. I thanked him and he introduced me to his friend.
'What are you doing up here?'
'Oh, I'm being shown the sights. I moved to London two months ago and my friend's showing me the sights.'
He seemed happy to meet me. We talked about film and then he told me his story.
'I'm a miner's son. It's been difficult coming down from the north to London.'
'Well, I know a bit about that. People are less friendly down here, aren't they?'
'Yes, that's certain.'
'What was life like up there?'
He laughed: 'I fucked all the boys in my school, every single one of them. They are all married now except for me - my father joined in! Isn't life strange?'
We talked for half an hour and then he said, 'I want to tell you a terrible story... I've got a boyfriend back home.'
'Yes, everyone up here has got a boyfriend. Who doesn't have a boyfriend?' I joked.
'Three years ago he was diagnosed HIV+. His doctor, who knew he was gay, organised a test for him. when he went back two weeks later for the results, he was told he had the virus. The doctor was a born-again Christian and he said my friend should give up his homosexuality and become a Christian. He didn't do that and we coped for three years. A month agohe was called up and asked to go and have further tests by the hospital. He was tested and then re-tested and called back to be told he never had the virus. They had been investigating the doctor, who had been giving young men who he knew were gay false positive results."
At Your Own Risk. A Saint's Testament (Hutchinson, London, 1992)
"Friday 24th May (1991)
There is not a breath of wind this morning, a bright redstart hops over my stones. Wallflowers and sea thrift, yellow and pink, patches of fluttering white sea campion, wilnd mignonette flowering at the roadside
Washed clothes and the kitchen floor, and watered my fennel seedlings.
Mist closed in at dawn - the foghorn's incessant boom woke me. The sun made a brave attempt to break the gloom, slight blush in the clouds. A jetliner ruled two lines across the sky, before the mist closed over everything. Raked the fire. It's an English summer - still very cold. my bees arrived at 9.30, to greet them the weather cheered up."
Smiling in Slow Motion (Century, London, 2000)
Dungeness bathes in a pool of clear sunglight ringed by dark purple thunder clouds. Heat shimmers off the stones - there is no wind today. Breathless the bees' lazy flight through the foxglove spires.
My blue columbine is in flower, and last year's seedlings are thriving. The columbine - aquilegia, the eagle's foot - a wild flower, has crept into my garden, one of the herbs used against the Black Death in the 14th century.
The thunder clouds move closer - a hawk hovers so high it is almost invisible. Down here on the stones blue damselflies and butterflies mate. Gold cinquefoil and bacon-and-eggs catch the last rays.
The sun is overtaken by clouds; distant boom of thunder.
Cinquefoil boiled with the fat of children made the witches' ointment, spell flower for love potions."
"That night started on the star-shaped, glass dance flor of The Sombrero in Kensington; afterwards we dropped acid in the cab. The bars of the late 60s and early 70s were no longer as closeted. The Continental Baths in New York, the most exciting club of the lot, were host to the social register on Fridays. The Baths were on the West side above Columbus Circle, in an old building: eleven dollars entry. The dance floor was alongside a very large swimming pool with fountains, surrounded by beach chairs. Off to the side was a labyrinthine white-tiled Turkish bath whose corridors ended in pitch black. The scalding steam took your breath away; in the darkest recesses a continuous orgy was under way, but the heat was so searing that only the most intrepid could get it up.
Besides the Turkish bath, there were saunas, a hundred bedrooms, a restaurant, a bar, a games room, and a hairdresser's, backrooms with bunks, pitch-black orgy rooms and a sunroof; on a weekend it would be packed. It was possible to live there and at 11 dollars a night cheaper than an hotel, or apartment. I met one young man who had lived there for three months; he had only left the building a couple of times.
Like the desert, though, the Baths played disturbing tricks, down there where time dissolved you in the shadows. The handsomest were the drug dealers, sprawled out on their bunks, gently masturbating, their doors slightly ajar to trap the unwary, and if you swallowed their bait, inhibitions cast aside, you'd be making love in that swimming pool, packed with naked bodies. Later, in an apartment crawling with cockroaches, staring at the ravaged features of some Adonis whose caked make-up had cracked like mud a the bottom of a dried-up lake, not all the fountains could restore the dream. This life could become as wearying as the treadmill of the rodent's cage; round and round we went in the land of Cockaigne."
I had to go through one of my boxes of this sort today and from the dross I pulled a few goodies to share.