Bo Bjerggaard

Shades of Black on White

09 May - 21 Jun 2014

9 May - 21 June 2014

1. White
It is morning. It’s getting light; the day begins. White light pours over the world, and we awaken. Shiny. Naked. But along with the light come shadows and anxiety. The colour of anxiety is white. Anxiety of the white page. White as bones and salt. White as the white of the eye and the white pills we take to keep anxiety at bay. All the ghosts in the world are white. In China, white is the colour of mourning and death. It’s the colour of the white book, the empty book, the book containing the truth about us. But it’s also the colour of the thick cotton sheets I dream of tumbling into when I’m most tired.
White fabric, the white canvas, the ground colour from which all paintings grow.
White is the colour of beginning. White as genesis and foundation. White as a bride. White as a caress and white as a summer lilac. Hawthorne and white wine. White as the spots the bathing suit covered. White sperm. The white discovered in the innermost chamber of an orgasm. The white sub­stance that forms and melts down in the centre of white holes. White laughter. I want to get in there. Into the white. I wave the white flag: I surrender.
I want to disappear into the white light.
I’m in the middle of the day. The sun is shining. Sun in the daytime, moon at night. Same size, but not at all the same size. I’m listening to Shubert’s Winterreise, the whitest music I know. The white lieder. Based on the poem Die schöne Müllerin. In the core of the words, meaning is ground together with sound. The words are grain ground to sound in Winterreise: Flour and snow. White falling into white. The core of love is chalk white: vanishing point and fusion.
I write white on the white. Snowberries, polar bear, milk. Cocaine, albino.
White Lily. White cubes. White magic. The white lives at the cost of the black.
The nightingale’s song resounds under white stars, while firefly lightning rips long tears in the dark. The houses are like white pill boxes, glowing in the evening darkness. Happiness goes from door to door like a dry turtle.

2. Grey
It’s a little before sunset in Siwa, an oasis in the Sahara. The day, with its hard colours, has burned down. The colours flare up at sunset, before with ­ drawing, extinguished. People have fasted all day; it is Ramadan. A long table is set in the main street. People are waiting. Water and food and cigarettes.
Impatience. Completely quiet. A man stands with a cigarette in one hand and a lighter in the other. He’s waiting for a signal. Everyone awaits the signal.
The muezzin is holding a thread in each hand. One black, one white. Black and white. When the sun has set so far that he can no longer tell the difference between the black and the white thread, he will begin to sing. That’s it, he’s singing. Allah is great. People rush to get the water, food and cigarettes. In the grey; finally we are in the grey. Where black and white blend and become one. In the liminal zone, in transition. We are on the threshold: at the same time in the black and in the white.

3. Black
Night crashes into day like a black wave. It dissolves and blue -black shades break out like on the sky’s skin. It gets dark and night is with us again. It must not become night. The night must not fall. It must not come around with its darkness. I am afraid of the dark. When I was a child, the night was not to come with its silent steps and form an unbreakable ring around me.
To protect myself, I slept with a pillow over my head, in my own darkness.
When I woke up at night and had to go down the long hallway downstairs to pee, I sang to keep the ghosts at bay. I sang and sang with a child’s shrill voice.
Night comes with its black dust and sprinkles it in people’s eyes. The black that is every orgasm’s innermost chamber. The black substance forms and melts in the centre of black holes. Now it is night. I am blacklisted. Writing in my black book. Every single movement registered in the black box. I give up.
I surrender to the black. Blacken myself. Black magic. Black sheep. A black tale. Volcanic ash. I black out. Turn black. Noir. In the dark, all cats are grey.
Cats can see in the dark with their cat eyes. It’s about being able to see in the dark. See with the black. It’s a matter of staring into the black to see what’s in there. It’s a matter of being dark-sighted.
The moon is shining. Moon at night, sun in the day. Same size, but not at all the same size. The writing takes place at night. I sit in the dark, making black marks on the white paper. One of the most renowned pages in literary history is the all-black page in Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy – black humour. I sit in the dark, singing that the night must not stop.
The greatest triumph is to write until it gets light. Darkness becomes a book I cannot put down. I do not want to reach that last page of the book of night.
I want to remain, reading the night. I am back in childhood’s darkness, singing to ward off the ghosts. I remain in the black to see into the white.

Morten Søndergaard, Skagen 19 April 2014