A Month In The Country
This exhibition is the product of an attempt to go on vacation.
This suite of works - three caryatids inspired by the stucco swans in the Tchaikovsky theater in Moscow and the dead birds of Dutch 17th century genre still life, a porcelain figure of a man ill at ease with his rustic location, an exit sign, a wheel chair, some photographs - my assistant at the pool of Cipriani in Venice, the teeth of an actress from my last class in the theatre, the hands of an actress who brought me back to the theatre, and a light box constructed from Seasonal Affective Disorder Lamps - were produced during a month long residency, The Thun Ceramic Residency in Bolzano Italy.
The artists residency is often pictured as a retreat, however in this case at the point of intervention (here we are with Genet - ‘Betrayal is always Ethical’), it was imagined as a rehabilitation, as rehab, a rest cure, from work, from amphetamines, from promises, and the push and pull between the anxiety of procrastination and exertions of concentration. So then at the beginning of the summer, we arrive at what might be imaginatively conjured as the factory as a sanatorium.
The geographical setting was historically correct for this type of pathological drama. Thomas Mann returned often to shores of the lake at Riva Del Garde (like Eisenbach to the Bains at the Lido), Callas escaped Onnasis at Sirmione, Spender was further up in the hills, and Stanislavsky passed through while placing his tuberculosis stricken sun even further up across the border in the mountains. This northern corner of Italy was not just sight of hospitalisation, literal or figurative, but also of celebration, Nag and Nell of Becket’s Endgame spent there honeymoon here, before returning to the world to have the legs removed and spending the rest of the days appearing in and out of trash cans.
Like a good patient, one must admit our tendency for over identification, with figures from the past, with actresses, with dramatic situations. Stanislavsky, after his own nervous collapse, returned to the theatre with a radically minimal production of Turgenev’s Classic romance ‘A Month in the country’ from which this exhibition gets its title. The drama’s heroine Natalya, another figure one might cling to, exclaims, when trying to explain her erratic behaviour to those who wish to intervene: “Hello, winds! …See how he has taken over the whole room…there is no driving him out now.”