I've been spending every night watching the heavens within (through the perspectives of) my "observatories." The unfamiliarity of the star patterns made me feel "on edge" - literally - as if I were on the edge of the planet. As if everything dropped away from the Namibian shore and into the blackness of deep space. Which in a way it does. It's a kind of vertigo. As if I were standing "upside down" on the planet? Of course not but isn't spatial orientation one of the most basic of learned ideas? I mean, it is learned isn't it? And at a young age, so it's sunk deep in. I still think Mercator even though it's more of a Robinson world now. Up is up.
I always think of the cover of the English version of The Little Prince at times like this. One step and it's all over. It's always frightened me. Now here in Namiba that childhood vertigo is resurfacing, leaving me a little dizzy. Which is funny because I've dyed my hair like Kim Novak.
It's hard to be Causasian and in Namibia and not feel like a movie star (not necessarily Grade A). I wonder if Angelina Jolie's orgasms were more intense here too? I wonder if she kept adopting babies because she was scared for them here? I wonder if giving birth here felt like something was falling off your shore and into deep space?
Every day here now feels like a falling off. I think it's time to leave. I've even made already my good-bye piece. It's about this idea of "north" that I was describing a few days ago. Even with all this other business of babies falling into outer space etc., I've been continually thinking about North. Kind of like a neural Robinson grid overlaid on Mercator synapses.
My good-bye installation consisted of a large oval train tracks, 3km in circumference, on which runs (it's a permanent installation) an old steam engine pulling four railway cars. There is a complicated water-intake system incorporated into the rails and wheels, to keep the boiler full. The power is solar, from special panels mounted on the roofs of the four carriages. The train puts forth a tremendous head of steam and moves very quickly around its closed course, much too quickly for anyone to manage to board the train. Inside each of the four carriages is a complex installation involving film loops, audio, vitrines, relics, bones etc. - installations which no one besides me will ever see. The first refers to Elizabeth Nietzche's Nueva Germania colony in Paraguay, the second to Hendrik Witbooi's theft of Hermann Goering's father's horses, or rather, to Hermann Goering's daydreaming about Hendrik Witbooi's theft of his father's horses, while riding in his private train car. Inside the third car, Jules Verne and Raymond Roussel smoke tobacco, play scrabble, and quietly enjoy their vehicular utopia. The fourth car holds some objects, letters, jewelry and photos that refer to an event in my life that no one but me knows about, something that happened that I chose not to ever talk about. And that, now, of course, no one will ever be able to see.
What people can see is the exterior of the train, speeding in a near-circle day and night, and something else: the entire interior of the oval is covered with oceanic sheet-ice as it cracks upon the shore. It's an entirely Arctic scene inside the time-space vortex created by the rapidly circling train. The reason the ice doesn't melt is that it's all styrofoam, thick slabs of it, several acres worth. Of course it's my appropriated version of General Idea's fabulous Fin de Síecle installation which I saw many years ago, my homage to that piece and maybe more importantly, to Haacke's Germania. General Idea loosed my heart so that it fell away from the shore as I stood there on it, while Haacke - well, did something a little different, a little more cerebral but equally as appreciated. The title refers to the Caryl Phillips novel. These four installations will race pell-mell behind their racing steam locomotive until life slides off the planet and the sun grows dark.
Installation: "Observatoire #3: A Distant Shore"
near Kolmanskop Art Center, Luederitz, Namibia
January 30, 2007
Steam locomotive, railway passenger cars, railroad tracks & ties, styrofoam