Friday, 21 August 2009

The sound of thirteen years

I've been a bit torn... Matisse and White Room or the remaining bits from California...

Indecisiveness led to silence but last night settled it. I had invited friends for a party in this flat which I will leave in a week. Ambitiously, I had called it Finissage, with the idea being... yes, correct... to have some of the White Room artwork in the White Room. Fat chance... of course that didn't happen and it was just a very nice party with a bit of art work in practice.

One of the people who turned up was someone I met first three years ago - in a kosher cafe on the corner of Aza in Rehavia, Jerusalem. He's been in Berlin for the athletics world cup and I. met up with him and he came to the party. The party was a funny mix of German, English and Hebrew with some other people from Israel there too. At some point N. just said... "oh, I love listening to the sound of Gesa's English." Quick I replied "well, listen, that is the sound of thirteen years." Never thought about it, but yes... the way I speak is the result of thirteen years.

And this takes me back to some ancient post on the stuff that matters - where I fantasized that if I ever was to study art I would spent years with life drawing and painting since people were what mattered. I'm back with performance and person-making and the ways these inscribe our bodies and make who we are.

So, whoever will in future listen to my English will listen to thirteen years of Glasgow, friends from Ireland, a bit poshed up University exposure and some mysterious Stornoway twang.

It made me think also of my father's cousin Baerbel, at least that what I think is her name, but in any case it sounds like a good name for her. Baerbel moved to England in the 1950s, not anywhere in England but Salford. The first time I met her was in 1994, when I had just come back from a long cycling tour through the English North and she and her husband were visiting my parents. Wow... and how English eccentric she looked, hairstyle, make up and dress sense. She clearly wasn't from Hamburg any longer but from halfway between Liverpool and Manchester. And the way she talked. How weird her German sentences sounded. Yes... a life lived elsewhere.

Over the last six weeks I had funny encounters. To me, my name is terrifically German - sorry: it is not a foreign name. But: "Oh, and how come that your German is so good?" wasn't asked once but I need more than one hand for it. Similarly, my Spanish teacher, after an hour asked again: "And, you are Scottish then? You sound exactly like the other Scottish girl I teach". Well, yes, my Spanish mistakes are English Spanish mistakes, not German ones: I generally translate from English into Spanish because that's how I learned Spanish. Yet, the highlight was someone who, while we, after a day of work, were waiting on the train, asked - in disbelief - "And really, this is your first time that you're in Germany?"

Well, I guess I wasn't here for the past 13 years, just listen to the sound of my voice and how I talk. Perfomance... I don't think you need a camera for it, do you?

[In case you wonder... this was the follow-up, if not conclusion from California, Matisse is to follow]

Pictures? None for today, maybe a sound recording would be appropriate...

No comments: