A PORTRAIT OF A HOME THAT GOD FORGOT
«Wake up it’s 4 am. Go take a shower, I’m going to go cry in the kitchen. I’ll have breakfast ready for you in ten, it will take you ten minutes to eat and then it’s only two hours and forty minutes left until you have to be in school.» The mother says. «Ok» I respond. My feet are cold as fuck from the concrete floor in our hallway, and I also manage to spend 3 minutes walking down the stairs because we don’t have lighting by our stairs, or we do, but I’m not allowed to turn it on — so there might as well not have been any. Because the father is already up, and if he’s already up, and I’m up, and the mother is up, there’s no one to turn the light off when I go downstairs, so I’ll walk in the dark. There’s a mirror at the end of our hallway that’s hanging just too far up for me to see my whole face, but I can see the top of my brown haired bowl cut. I take a turn left and open the door, which can’t be closed, unless you lock it. I take my silk boxers with teddy bears on them off, and I step into the shower while sand pours out of the shower head. I open my eyes but I can’t see anything because I have sand in them. It burns and the shampoo won’t come off, instead it runs into my eyes, because I don’t have any eyebrows yet.
I’m in Sahara, and I’m carefully peeling my skin off my red hot body. At this point I’m not sure if I’m clean or if I’m sweating. I turn the shower off and take a shit. How counter-productive. I wipe myself while I’m standing, not sitting. The way my arm twists under my thighs while wiping my ass scares me. What if I were to slip and fall back and break my wrist while semi-standing up or sitting down, depending on what you prefer. I walk over to our yellow sink which is twenty centimeters away. It used to feel further away, but right now our bathroom is cramped up. I’ve grown, or maybe the bathroom has shrunk. I’m not really sure anymore, anyhow, how could I know such factual information – I don’t even know my age, I can barely see the top of my own head in the mirror. I wash my hands with my dads green soap which is his signature scent, and it’s also turning into my signature scent, because I keep using it. The mother doesn’t use any soap when she cleans her hands, and I wish I didn’t either, but this is the scent of a man. It stinks, but I feel clean.
Clean as a whistle who wishes he could whistle, I walk through our kitchen and enter our living room. The floor gives off the look of wood, but it’s not really wood, but in a couple of years it will be, but in reality it will always be vinyl flooring. The back of our yellow bamboo chairs feels like swords in my spine, I can’t sit comfortably. At the same time I’m being watched over and surrounded by a huge yellow canvas, around ten times my size, varying from which angle you look at it from. I want to smash my head through the yellow concrete wall, but I don’t think I’m strong enough to make it through. Instead I’ll write something, something anarchistic, that screams «HELP ME. I CAN’T SPEAK. I LOST MY MOUTH.» So I write «Hello :-)» The upkeep of an unintended facade is still intact and I’ve finished my food when my mother notice my graffiti and says «Hello» back, before she smudges it away with her right index finger. «Won’t you go down to feed the rabbits while I feed your father?» She asks me – kindly.
I don’t really know what kind of weather it is, every time my feet elevate from the ground I’m cold, and every time I plant the next step I’m treading on volcano rocks. I’m by the garage, and I have two choices, I can take the steep hill, or I can go around and spend 10 seconds longer, but the risk of me falling is lowered by a certain amount of percent that I cannot calculate because I’m a child, but the lowering of the risk is a fact. I feel like I’m in one of those books where you choose your own story. Turn to page 22, and I’m rolling down the hill and I break my legs or slam my head on the huge rocks next to the door and crack my skull open. Can’t go to school – can’t feed the rabbits. Turn to page 11, and I’m too late for school and my mother is asking «Why did you take so long». Sorry mother, I was asking myself wether I wanted to die or not.
And as I’m walking through the door, down the hall into the rabbit hole, where no bunny ever was, there’s a stench of chicken and bunny excrements, but I see no chickens. With cages that still stands – I’m surrounded by rabbits that never were. With leaves of lettuce that has fossilized on the concrete floor. The rabbit hole is a sinkhole, and I’m sinking, and sinking, and sinking, while dissolving, until I start floating and the cells that has drifted away into space starts gathering back to shapes that look like body parts, and I feel my stomach and throat, something that might look like a character in a sci-fi movie recuperating in a matrix looking sphere that acts like a womb. I find myself standing on the pavement looking at a hospital, and there I am again, floating towards it. The mother is shrieking right next to me, while running next to the body, as it is, or I am being carried by a shadow headed towards the doors, but all I can think to myself is «Where did all the rabbits go?»
This is it. This is the split. The butterfly is emerging from its cocoon, but the skeleton of a cocoon is already there, where the transformation is about to happen. It’s dangling by the ceiling in a child’s window, in a living room next to a birdcage or in the lower floor of a garage filled with empty cages, and traces of rabbits and the drum-like sounds they produced by banging their back feet against the wooden floor when it’s mating season. The cocoon could be hanging by the attic above a man lying in his bed dying of brain cancer, in a bathroom that smells of soap or in the kitchen window as a woman enters the kitchen at 4 am howling and crying because she hates her life.
The larva resembles childhood. It’s the thrill of exploration and creating a persona that people around you respect. The larva tries different ice cream flavors rather than only Ben & Jerry’s Strawberry Cheesecake on a Thursday evening, because it doesn’t know what it wants. The larva buys books because of their book covers, and VHS’s because it had dark skies, lightning and cool colors on the front. The child is a god-like object that didn’t exist before you were born, the essence of the larva is the smell of Streptocarpus, the enjoyment of discovering strawberry milk, watching a man weighing 30 kilos in a bed dying because cancer ate his body, having a cigarette while jumping on a trampoline and dying your hair black, and many more things to come. The larva will only stop growing once it stops discovering.
The butterfly is the afterlife, reminiscing its life as a larva in a cocoon when it could become anything. The butterfly knows what it wants, but what if the butterfly never leaves the cocoon, what if it’s always there? What if it never leaves the attic, ceiling or windows. The cocoon, or skeleton, in a sense, is the limbo we’re heading towards. The Monsters’ memories are starting to act proleptic, and transforming the lyrics of life into an enjoyable melody stuck on repeat until the end of time, or rather until it’s dead. Kind of similar to a broken record player. The Monster is rehearsing death, over and over, and as the melody is forming, its tiny wings are starting to thaw their way out of the web it spun years ago. The butterfly emerges from the cocoon the larva died in, but its legs are stuck. In lack of vocabulary, it repeats «Oh lord, save me!» over and over. «How could such tragedy happen, I had only just begun living!» I repeat, over and over.
THE MONSTER (CONTINUED)
This is page 11. I’m standing next to my own body, which is lying on a stretcher in a room shared with other patients, it’s crystalized in amber, like a bug from an era no man ever witnessed. It’s a remnant of a past, encapsulated in resin. But is this a portrait of a past pre/post-birth, or pre/post-death? I stare at the mother, which looks devastated, kneeling in front of this huge orange cocoon. I glance over at the father, which has sat down in the chair right next to it. The doctor is giving out information, but I can clearly see the words and letters coming out of his or her mouth are all flying around the room, because nearby, no ear open is willing to listen.
Everything around me is turning so bright, the silhouettes of the people around me are disappearing. All that is left are words, and letters floating around in the space around me. The only way to describe the brightness is that it’s the same type as when you’re sitting in the chair at the dentist’s and in one moment you’re making conversation about things you didn’t even know you would rather talk about than have someone shove a drill into your mouth. And then a giant machinery turns over to you, elevating above your head, and in the next moment it’s like you died and went to heaven because everything is literally pure white.
The light shuts off, and I find myself on the same stretcher again. My mother is on her knees besides me, and my father is sitting in a chair, not too far away, but too far away to hold my arm as I’m slowly regaining consciousness. «I can’t believe you’re awake» the mother says. «Neither can I» I respond. But I can’t explain if I sound positive or negative in the way I say it, and to be frank, I don’t know what I would rather want to sound like myself. I didn’t know that to be alive would feel so similar to a funeral, because everyone around me is grieving. Here I am, a big naked baby in a room filled with too many people for it to be a big naked man in without there being a sexual innuendo in play. The wooziness is starting to pass, the doctor leaves the room, and the father sits down on his knees next to the mother. «Did you *cough* remember to feed *cough* the rabbits today?» I cough and ask the mother. «Dear lord… we haven’t had rabbits in over 5 years, boy» She says. The father starts crying.
He wakes up at 5AM, or 7AM or 9AM, sometimes he gets out of his bed at 10AM, I wouldn’t know, I go to school at 6:50AM so I can be there at 7:30AM. He takes his slippers on sometimes, and sometimes he doesn’t – the other times when I don’t see him I don’t know. It’s always his left foot that touches the parquet or linoleum floor or the old timber floor first. Sometimes he smells of cow shit, sometimes he smells of goat shit, sometimes he smells of soap, and sometimes he smells of such strong aftershave that I can feel the hairs in my nostrils raise — they dissolve as if they touched corrosive acid.
Father1 is a caucasian male, he has dark brown hair, brown eyes, and weighs between eighty to eighty-nine kilos. He’s between one hundred and eighty and one hundred and eighty nine centimetres tall, most of this depending on(my)mood. He speaks Danish, English, Swedish, German and Spanish, and has visited Spain, Greece, Portugal, Australia, Russia and England, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Austria, Cape Verde, France, and the Czech Republic. Father1 is open minded and lovable, optimistic, outgoing, focused, witty, clever and fun, relaxed, sympathetic, hardworking, happy and positive, extrovert, social and a smiling person, all this also depending on(my)mood. His favourite animal is tigers, because he believes they are beautiful animals, although he’s never seen one in real life. His favourite movie is «Gladiator», although he can’t understand a single word of English.
Father1 resembles a mix between the Danish Author and speaker Christian Bitz, the Icelandic handball player Arnór Atlason, Vin Diesel and Kevin Spacey. Father1 is a recurring character in my life in which I owe nothing but praise a lot. Father1 was the
idea that I too could grow up and become open minded and lovable, optimistic, outgoing, focused, witty, clever and fun, relaxed, sympathetic, hardworking, happy and positive, extrovert, social and a smiling person. Father1 is a silhouette of people that do
or do not exist and that have and have had a significant impact on my life. I remember especially well that one time in the ER when I had threatened to jump from the 7th floor and father1 bought me sushi and coca cola and sat with me there for 4 hours, or when a seagull shat on his brand new sailor hat, or when he fell ill with the chicken pox laying on our sofa floating in and out of consciousness.
He wakes up at 5AM, or 7AM or 9AM, sometimes he gets out of his bed at 10AM, I wouldn’t know, I go to school at 6:50AM so I can be there at 7:30AM. He takes his slippers on sometimes, and sometimes he doesn’t – the other times when I don’t see him I don’t know. It’s always his left foot that touches the parquet or linoleum floor or the old timber floor first. Sometimes he smells of cow shit, sometimes he smells of goat shit, sometimes he smells of soap, and even sometimes his beard pokes me when he hugs me. It’s the same kind of pain when my cat licks my neck with its dehydrated tongue – a thousand needles poking into me that I have to endure because at the same time I appreciate the attention. Sometimes I hug back, sometimes I don’t, sometimes I hug back out of formality and sometimes out of love. Most of the time he wears white, sometimes he wears blue, he used to wear grey, but he never wore red.
I visit father2 every day. He’s usually really quiet, like he is lying dormant or waiting for something to change. Maybe the pace of routines has become too much routine-like, and he’s becoming aware of this. He hasn’t changed his shirt in a while, it’s tucked in his grey/white off-brand joggers. I know this because he reeks of tobacco. His shirt is blue, but I can’t remember if it’s checkered or if it’s striped. Maybe he wore both, but probably not at the same time, because inside our house it’s always really warm. Sometimes too warm. So warm, that the mother would complain because her plants, that she worked so hard for to sprout, might die. The mother is loud, but loud like in the background loud, though you can easily single out and register everything being said. The child is even louder, but most of the time it shouts in codes, so no one really pays attention.
It’s feeding time, and by routine the father is fed by hand. And as the door is opened he wakes to life while shouting and runs out. In a rush of adrenaline, and a hope of despair to despair no more, he falls to the ground while grabbing on to the mothers crocheted curtains that me and my friend witnessed a robbery through, once. The small holes in which she worked so hard to crochet, are stretched with
his fat fingers, and the curtains are losing its function, but gaining a new one at the same time as an object to keep a person on his feet. His eyes are vibrating fast and his body moving slow, and he is lifted onto a stretcher and carried to the hospital. In a change of scenery, or, the same scenery as before, but now in a hospital, father2 wakes up in a hospital bed, and is still fed by hand. While eating, the mother asks «How do you feel?», sitting by his bed. Father2 grunts and responds «Have I lost any feathers?».
He wakes up at 5AM, or 7AM or 9AM, sometimes he gets out of his bed at 10AM, I wouldn’t know, I go to school at 6:50AM so I can be there at 7:30AM. He takes his slippers on sometimes, and sometimes he doesn’t – the other times when I don’t see him I don’t know. It’s always his left foot that touches the parquet or linoleum floor or the old timber floor first. Sometimes he smells of cow shit, sometimes he smells of goat shit, sometimes he smells of aftershave, and sometimes I imagine, or rather hope, that when I’m not there he doesn’t smoke as many cigarettes as he does when I’m there, because I’m really tired of my classmates asking me if I’ve
started smoking, when I don’t even know how to roll a cigarette yet.
I don’t visit father3 so often, he lives somewhere that feels like a gazillion miles away. I don’t have a driver’s license and I’m too afraid to ride the train alone. Father3 usually wears an off-brand looking Adidas t-shirt in a various spectre of colors, and off-brand grey joggers. He wears a tacky wristwatch that I don’t find appealing, and spends a lot of money on sitting in a lottery booth with his newfound love. Father3’s house is a small house that was built by his family from the ground and up, made to fit a mother and two small boys. As a big family of three, who’s synced in small rooms, it doesn’t matter which room we’re in, it’s always like we’re sitting by his respatex kitchen table, trying to reach the jam or bread in what feels like a jungle of floppy arm fat, bread and jam from a child’s height point-of-view
When I’m there father3 usually sits with his face planted in his left hand and a cigarette in his right hand on the left side of the window. When I’m there, father3 sometimes sits on the right side with a cup of coffee, where 70% of the coffee ends up on the respatex table, because he’s shaking uncontrollably. When I’m there, father3 usually sits on the left side of the table in the winter-garden, with his thumbs twinned and counting the minutes. When I’m there, he sits in the sofa on the right side in the winter-garden, with a cup of coffee spilling on the pillows, because he’s shaking uncontrollably. When I’m there, he sits outside in a camping chair, when I’m
mowing the lawn, because he doesn’t have the strength to push a machinery that weighs a thousand tons. He laughs at my foul attempt, but I think it makes him sad at the same time.
Father3 is the farm that burnt down, smoking up most of the animals inside to nothing but ashes. He never really did recover, and he went from size medium to extra large in what felt like a snap of a finger in slow motion, the same type of time and space that happens when you’re enjoying a really good song and it stops, so you play it again. I believe that father3 also listens to the same song over and over again.
He wakes up at 5AM, or 7AM or 9AM, sometimes he gets out of his bed at 10AM, I wouldn’t know, I go to school at 6:50AM so I can be there at 7:30AM. He takes his slippers on sometimes, and sometimes he doesn’t – the other times when I don’t see him I don’t know. It’s always his left foot that touches the parquet or linoleum floor or the old timber floor first. Sometimes he smells of cow shit, sometimes he smells of goat shit, sometimes he reeks of sweat, and sometimes he takes me for a spin on his four wheeler while I throw bread out for the ducks in a speed that feels like we’re about to lift off from the ground.
I visit father4 just as often as I don’t visit father3. When I’m not there I can only imagine that he does the activities, that he does with me when I’m there, just with me not being there. But for some reason I imagine him happier which makes me sad. Father4 owns a big camping site that has been passed down for generations (I believe). Father4 wears checkered and striped shirts, in a variety of colors, and cargo pants because he works a lot in the mud. Father4 owns all sorts of animals, rabbits, ducks, chickens, goats, cows, the dog I love the most in the world Fia, and the dog I hate the most in the world which I didn’t bother to learn the name of, because I hate
her. Maybe that’s why she hates me too.
Father4 is usually tanned when he’s good, or pale when he’s not. The grass is usually cut when he’s good, and tall when he’s not. The drainage system in the duck pond is usually up and running when he’s good, and not when he’s bad. I prefer when the grass is tall, because I like the way it feels towards the naked skin on my legs, but it feels wrong, because I know it hasn’t been cut because he’s bad.
There are also no sweets in his store when he’s bad, only water, and sometimes ice cream. His barn is filled to the brim with at least one thousand deer skulls, and he’s promised to take me hunting when I get older.
Father4 is the cancer that ate through the body and skin of a person that wasn’t supposed to be taken away this early, leaving a huge family both biological and nonbiological grieving. Never ever have I seen a bigger funeral in my life, but never ever have I also seen a person that young, be so weak. I miss father4 a lot, but I’m not sure if I was just another visitor, or if I was as much a son to him, as he was father to me.
This is page 22. Writing a story about a mother is too tough for me. You hear about father figures the whole time, but you don’t hear about «mother-figures», simply because a mother is the highest idea of perfection. A proposition of an ideal way to exist, on both good and bad terms, no matter how much hate, love, lack or longing is involved. The mother isn’t a simple recurring character, or a silhouette of knowledge. The mother materializes in colors, clothes, the way you arrange your plants in your window, how you check every plate on the stove at least four times before you go to bed, and pull out every plug before you leave your apartment, what music you listen to, but most of all what music you especially do not listen to, and other spectres that doesn’t involve other human beings. The mother is an interchangeable character to the father, but who’s there, even if there indicates the past. The mother is constant.
In «The mourning diary» Roland Barthes writes «I have become my own mother». The way I’ve interpreted this, is that every individual is their own mother. The expectations one has to the mother is similar to expectations that one has to oneself. I could easily continue writing about important father figures that has merged into different beings, because the memories are all clouded up, but the mother is so clear and direct, and loud — she’s not vague at all. I see her when I see a red fabric, I see her when I see plants, I see her when I smell ammoniac, and I see her when I see chickens or rabbits. But the mother is also been portrayed and tainted by my own self-loathing, all though what she has ever done is her best. I’ve always been my own mother, but upon examination I’ve turned the mother into a monster.
The mother, or me, is the passing of this baton which is a lexicon. A lexicon that has a certain vocabulary or a way to read a memory through an original, but also counterfeit objects at the same time. I believe, from an artistic point of view, that you work with your surroundings, and what was around me when I started flourishing as an artist was vague memories and trauma, so it was a natural portal for me to choose. I speak of objects from a photographers point of view, and I think of the sculptures related to this text as photographies, or rather illustration from the past to explain the present. Similar to the people that recreate family photographies 20 years later, where they are wearing the same clothes as they did in the original picture taken, these sculptures are also objects reenacting a past.
The father is knowledge and information from a temporary and faceless source, because they might not be there anymore. I think of the father as both previous friends and colleagues, information gathered about someone that could be my biological father through a sperm donation site, a woman that used to be my psychologist, my dead grandfather, a man that owned a camping site we used to go to as a child, and several artists (Hannah Black, Mercedes Mühleisen, Dieter Roth, Cy Twombly, Ole Jørgen Ness, Karl Holmqvist, Mattias Härenstam, Dora Budor and Isa Genzken) that has created works using different materials that has inspired my techniques and
aesthetics, which has motivated me to continue my practice. Home is a liquid construct on a platform that is ever-changing. It never stops moving even after you’ve moved out. It’s the realization that the world wouldn’t stop if you died, but what if when you were born, life started existing? For me, a home is gathered information that created a persona who analyses the world as an artwork, and that creates relations to connect the void between objects. A home is a butterfly in a cocoon that did or did not emerge and spread its wings.