Something Might Have Been Better than Nothing...

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Pink Stain, 2008 C Print © Courtesy of the artist & RECEPTION
Something Might Have Been Better than Nothing...

Kurfürstenstraße 5/5a
March 12th, 2011 - May 14th, 2011
Opening: March 11th, 2011 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

+49. (0)30. 26 93 14 55
Wed–Sat 11-18 and by appointment


“For our fathers, mild men.”
If perversion is premised on refinement and the extravagance
of taste, then fine, she could think of herself as perverse. The
others certainly saw her this way. Her years of performing
under Balanchine had imparted her with an inseparable
aura of cultivation. Her tastes were high. It could be seen in
everything she touched: her fur collection, her wardrobes,
her stories, in the way she held her head. This was needless
to argue. Still, at moments she was greatly misunderstood
by the others. And yet she didn’t want to escape it. She saw
that what the others called tasteful was really an innocuous
perversion whose penetrations offended far deeper than her
own. They had refined themselves into a bland oblivion. It
crossed her mind that Lake City is the ground against which
the figure articulates itself. In alone moments, often she was
struck by an uncanny sense that this ground was trying to
swallow her. This kept her restless, feeding what they spoke of
as her insatiable appetite. She shifted between many roles, yet
she found it was often the case that when they came together
these roles could not be reconciled. At times this filled her
with a sense of dread, yet she also took great pleasure in the
power of this fluidity. She traded on her beauty. She enjoyed
being looked at. She verged towards the masochistic. She
considered the pleasurable moments as small victories. Each
victory, a fleeting thing that had to be given back. While her
footholds were able to find root, at times she lost the goal of
where she was going. She saw Lake City as an endless stretch,
row after row of nearly identical apartments. In the end she
wondered whether hers was becoming yet another.
The man had decided to return to the area after being promised
a maintenance job at a condominium building. In exchange
for painting interiors and performing tasks of general
upkeep he would receive what he considered an adequate
wage. Upon arrival in Lake City his memories came flooding
back. He saw himself many years ago, as an adolescent,
unwillingly moved to America and thrust into these very
same suburbs. It still had that smell: overbearingly strange
and earthy, as though resurrected from the dead. Melancholia
filled his nostrils just like old times. The man had been assigned
to an assistant superintendent with a master key. Each
day the assistant would unlock the apartment doors for the
man and supervise his work. In some instances the tenants
were at home and the man would engage with them in polite
small talk. For the most part the tenants were rather dull, and
the man preferred not to get too involved with them while he
was working. The tenants he liked least were those who would
stand over him, eyeing him cautiously, suggesting to him how
he should do things that they themselves were incapable of
doing. The superintendent’s assistant was a daydreamer, fond
of playing video games on his telephone and prone to periods
of astonishing mental blankness. The man took advantage of
the assistant’s inattentiveness, frequently sending him away
on minor errands. Often, the tenants were absent from their
homes and the man would find himself alone in their quarters.
This allowed him time to make an assessment of his thoughts.
Spending day after day surrounded by their possessions made
the man feel strangely tainted. He thought of how humans
are formed by desire and often wondered what inspired the
people in the building. Surreptitiously he began to make
photographs of all the apartments. He was very cautious, knowing
that if he were discovered it would cause great concern
among the tenants. He couldn’t help but think of himself as
being on the edge of one of many overlapping circles. Nearby,
there was a lake with no access to the sea.
Opening her apartment door she eyed him up and down. I like
what I see, she said. He smiled. She was a woman of 63, petite
but buxom just as she portrayed herself in her ad, except
her hair, once golden, had turned to silver. At a younger age
she must have been extremely attractive, he thought. Her
apartment seemed to trace a 50-year journey through the
fading accumulations of an adolescent’s fantasy. He found
it challenging to imagine that these things still held any
meaning to her at all. Sauntering through the living room she
gestured towards a table of cold cuts, fruit, and canned juices.
In case we work up an appetite, she said. In the bedroom half
a dozen candles burned and a soft fragrance filled the air.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, he spoke intimately to her. She
reciprocated. Slowly, as the candles burned down, he could
feel her moving closer. What did she think he wanted of her?
he wondered. And what did she think of such an unusual
request? Following a long silence he paid her the sum they
had discussed over the phone. Afterwards, she asked, what
would you like me to do. He said all he wanted was for her to
direct him however she desired to see him. She walked to the
wall and rested her chin demurely in her hand, thinking for
some time. Maybe then you can start by slowly taking off your
clothes, she suggested. Laying there on the bed, it felt to him
like he was a statue lying on a table. He made himself aroused
at her request. She watched him silently and with tremendous
focus. Then, unsure of what to have him do next, she seemed
struck by a considerable unease. A thought crossed his mind:
what felt comfortable in the relationship were the spaces of
known roles, regardless of what they made the subject do. It
was the unknown that created anxiety, because it was in
response to this unknown that one truly revealed oneself to
oneself. When one couldn’t act, one had only thinking left.
She never took a piece of clothing off, but somehow she seemed
much more naked than him.
Late one night, spent from a long day of filming court depositions,
a middle-aged man received a telephone call from a woman
he had known for some time. She explained to him that
earlier that day a very talented photographer, whose muse she
had been for years, had boarded a plane to Albania planning
to have cheap dental work done. Prior to leaving, the photographer
had called the woman, asking her to feed his cats and
watch after his house during the 9 days he planned to be away.
She had agreed. Speaking into the receiver she told the man
that she was at the photographer’s house now, and that
she wanted to see him as soon as possible. Between his
Something Might Have Been Better than Nothing...
professional expertise and her abilities, they might be
able to be of mutual benefit to one another. Besides, she had
a brilliant idea for a film that he would direct. Despite her
unavailability for as long as he had known her, the man had
always found her attractive. An hour later he arrived at the
house. Over the course of the next week, while the man called
in sick to work, each day he and the woman fleshed out her
ideas. He found he enjoyed spending time with her. By the
end of the week he nearly forgot about his work altogether.
The last two days, the days in which they shot the film, he
felt more alive than he had in years. Strangely though, during
these same moments he felt an encroaching sadness he
couldn’t explain. When he returned to his job at the courthouse
he felt even more numb than before. Each day, before
leaving for work, and after returning home, he spent his
time playing out an absent ritual, poring back over the footage
again and again. As the weeks passed he heard less and
less frequently from the woman. Late one night, for a reason
he didn’t comprehend, something came over him. Beside
himself, the director drove to the woman’s house and left the
tapes on her doorstep. She answered the door only to hear
the sound of his car pulling away.
A man of some means, well intentioned and presentably attractive,
had reached a point in his life where it had become
apparent that something was sorely amiss. He spoke with
an unusual intonation and it was believed that he was a
foreigner. Ducking into a venue one evening, alone, he was
electrified by the musical performance of a cellist and drummer.
Note after note, the duo hit thrilling chords, entrancing
the entire room with the caliber of their musicianship. The
man was struck. He purchased all the albums that the duo
had recorded. This led to a greater interest in jazz and after a
few years the man had amassed one of the largest collections
of rare jazz recordings in the County. It became necessary
for him to rent a storage unit to house the records he had
accumulated. Years later, after the man had lost interest in
his collection, the building flooded due to a poorly installed
sprinkler system.
P.B. / L.L.
NYC 2011