Living Flame

There are many things that can be created from fire. Swaths of soot left after a blaze. Smoke spiralling into the air, silhouetted against the sun, painting the sky with the dark against the light. What is charcoal if not charred remnants, used to draw, used for art? And even fire itself can be beautiful, blooming like a flower, orange and yellow. Even in its destruction it is beautiful, sweeping through wood and paper and forests and buildings, leaving barely anything unscathed.

And we fear it, as we should, keep it controlled in fireplaces and furnaces, with weak pathetic flames burning in lamps and on candles. But even with our precautions, sometimes it escapes, wreaks havoc, causes devastation and feeds like a living thing, breathes and grows and survives like a living thing.

But always, even in the aftermath, in the smouldering remains of what was once a whole house, a thriving woodland, you find the strangest things, untouched and unscarred. An intricate candlestick, on a carved marble fireplace. An iron-wrought bench, inscriptions painstakingly worked into the back.

You never know what you will find, when you put out fires. You never know what will have destroyed, and you never know what will have been left for you to discover.

-Maura Kenny

(04/02/18: create, fire quote)

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Warm-Up

The exercise involves lying full-bodied on the floor for another to draw around your form. The purpose of said exercise is to articulate a sense for the flow of immobility, immobility as flow and thus possibility. Many groups attempted similar activities to great aplomb and connection. Artists collapsed upon their models. Models rose to heights of personal ascendence. Poetry collections were published. Limbs grew lithe in artificial moonlight. The studio upgraded its entire rigging. We brought new humans to practice passivity. Every pairing was a pool of pleasure. Who knew the flesh untouched could be so malleable. To cultivate the necessary unrest, ambient ocean sounds may be played directly into the model’s ear. Arousal. Here we are, rhythm of intermittent tide, a pencilled warble. This man has muscles that articulate a paradoxical vulnerability. It’s in his tattoos, which only the artist sees. A he or a she or neither, in which case a very special effect is reached. Systems fall into perfect error. Undulations of hair leave their impress upon carpets, but admittedly parquet floors were instructed. Recommendations swept away in paper flakes. Controversies stirred at the death of a single participant. They had scratched, I am just looking for a way out. It never occurred to the artist that the model was in fact referring to their very own body. Doors were locked and provisions made. They ate tinned peaches and dripped the slippery juice across each other’s faces. Some of them miss the practice as it was before. No good to dwell in the past. No good at all. The snapshots were flushed when authorities arrived. Time will tell, how else? Little white lines. Social media profiles in the boom era broke down when the 404 parade came round, desperate and percussive. I make of you a blade of rain, they said. This isn’t the eighties, the skin replied. There were twenty-two poems explaining aesthetic paralysis. A great deal of laughter and stuck-together A2 paper, resonant scent of impermanent ink. When your felt-tip skims my shoulders I melt like infinite butter. His tattoos twist, I drink them.

 

– Maria Sledmere

(04/02/18: ‘create’)

A Day Like All Others

She tied her keys into her shoelaces, just as she did every morning. Her mother yelled at her for sleeping in, just as she did every morning. She had two slices of toast with blackcurrant jam, just as she did every morning. She left the house at 8.25am, just as she did every morning. And she walked to work. Just as she did every morning.

It was a cold, damp day. There was a dense fog over everything, turning the distant buildings into ghostly shadows. People plodded along, heads down, eyes on the pavement. Everyone was grey. Everything was grey.

She walked slowly, every step heavy and deliberate, in no hurry to arrive. The cold chilled her to the bone and she hugged her jacket tighter around her. The wind sent tiny daggers into her exposed skin, and she shivered, regretting not bringing a scarf.

It was just another day, the same as every other. She could never have expected what came next.

-Maura Kenny

[04/02/17: shoelaces, smog]