For electric machines that refuse to work, the following strategy sometimes works: You plug them out, or you take the batteries out, and then you put them away in a box or a drawer. The place where you put them needs to be totally dark, and moved as little as possible. Then, for some months, a year, two years, you try to forget about them. You have to let them drift away from the center of your mind as far as possible.
I did this with my discman once, and after some months it was playing again. With my clockradio and also with my printer, same story. I also do it a lot with my drawings and collages. Many times it doesn’t work. I get curious too soon, or I just can’t forget about them well enough. And then the whole process has to be restarted from the beginning again.
This one above I started to forget about one and a half years ago. It worked, I totally forgot it had ever existed! And then yesterday I rediscovered it. Well well, what do we have here? I said. And then I added a little bit of this and that, je ne sais quoi, and hmm, well, I think it might just be finished now.
The background of this collage was made in May on a sunny veranda in Portugal. I was drinking water with lemon and ice. I had been invited there to do absolutely nothing. Is there anything I can do? I asked. No, absolutely nothing, they answered.
The foreground I had made some months before, in Amsterdam. The days were grey, and in the mornings you could listen to men and women scraping ice off their car windows. So I started imagining this sunny Mediterranean tree.
Recently I glued the two drawings together.
Today it’s October and I took my new winter coat out for its first walk. The coat is long and black and straight. If you look at my collage, and mentally replace those blue and green elements on top of the tree stam by a human head, you get an idea of what the coat looks like.
I once played a tree, in a school play. I was inside a paper tunnel from head to toe, my arms were sticking out of two holes. I was instructed to keep them up, pretending they were branches. After a while my arms became very heavy and I was getting rather warm. I had no lines in the play, being a tree was my only task. Many years later I discovered people do the same thing in yoga classes, in order to stimulate their blood circulations. Which works very well actually, more than any collage will ever be able to do. Yet that will not stop people from making them. Here you have another one:
We come from far.
We come in peace.
For a long time we did not know what we were.
What could be our purpose?
Where we come from there are no doors. No hands.
Who is it?
Ah finally, we waited for centuries.
And centuries and centuries and centuries and centuries.
Hey people, who needs a handle?
Me! Me! Me! Me!
How wonderful. How incredibly handy. We can’t believe it.
Et cetera. Thank you.
These drawings were going through some hard times. Hang on there, I said to them, as I was leaning over them, everything will be fine. Some parts of you may have to be covered up, other parts may have to change shapes or colours. I may have to make light what was dark in you, and dark what used to be light. And, what’s more, you may have to meet new, unknown elements that I will introduce to you. They may appear strange to you at first, but you will have to trust me as I’m sticking them onto you with my glue.
These were made on my canapé.
I want to do more things lying down.
You don’t have to hold your back up. Or your neck. Or your head.
So you save a lot of energy
which you can transform into something else.