Juliètte Jongma

Pablo Pijnappel

11 Jan - 01 Mar 2014

Pareciam ser de um cinza translúcido
11 January - 1 March 2014

PARECIAM SER DE UM CINZA TRANSLÚCIDO Clare was in Amsterdam for two weeks in order to do an admission interview for the local art academy. After the interview, while waiting for the verdict, she was hanging out and getting to know the town, considering to move there next year. Immediately during her wanderings around the canals, that in her world meant lots of bars separated by bridges, she made up her mind: she detested Amsterdam. She couldn’t care less for all the ancient buildings which she considered tacky, or the bicycles which she perceived as noiseless stealthy vehicles that would sneak up behind her, and suddenly ring nigglingly, making her jump sideways in panic. I decided to relieve her from her suffering by offering her to come along to Antwerp for a day. I was going there with a six foot six tall curator friend, who had recently hosted my first solo exhibition, called Alexander, for a meeting with a curator couple who had seen the show and were interested in organizing something with me. As it happened, Alexander was going to visit a nihilist sculptor who lived close to the border of Belgium; since the curator couple were supposed to be friends of his, and being proud of all the feedback that the show was receiving, he offered to take me to Antwerp in his car.
During the three hour trip from Amsterdam to Antwerp, Clare sat quietly in the back, wearing her sunglasses, looking out of the window with a slight melancholic disposition; she always bore a certain resigned air, as if she just went through a midlife crisis at age 21 and decided that all her dreams were far too remote already, something of a youthful immature fantasy that were better forgotten; there was nothing to do now but drink and wait for the unavoidable end. I must confess that the mixture of her irrefutable beauty and this fatalism made her completely irresistible to me.
Once we arrived in the space in Antwerp, the reception of the couple towards Alexander was very cold. It became clear that it had been a mistake to come with him, and that they would have been much happier to have me alone to talk shop in private; through the course of the afternoon they made clear that they despised Alexander, or any Dutch for that matter, who they appreciated as complete philistines. Also, Clare’s presence disturbed the woman who, very beautiful herself, was bothered by a younger female in her presence. Despite the awkwardness — they treated me very nicely, regardless — we went to the new space, which they planned to use temporarily for a huge solo show with me. It was a gigantic former city administration hall, in the city center.
When we went inside the building, Clare decided to go for a walk, having agreed to meet us back there two hours later. After having looked at the space, all very excited, imagining where every piece would be installed, including Alexander who seemed completely aloof of their hostility towards him, we went outside. There was no sign of Clare.
We talked a bit more on the street in front of the former administration building and after a while the couple went away and Alexander and I waited for as long as an hour, but still no sign of Clare. Clearly she had gotten lost. Alexander needed to go to his appointment with the nihilistic sculptor, and in his cold calvinistic reasoning he told me to not worry that Clare would find her way back to Amsterdam.
She’s from Rio. She’ll be alright. There was no way that I would let the sister of my best friend behind in a strange town, so I protested and asked him to drive me around the city to try and find her.
Let the sculptor wait, Alexander. You’re the curator! We got into his car and drove around for an hour around the center, but we couldn’t find her. We returned to the entrance of the register hall. Alexander said he was going to Holland with or without me.
I’m going to work with this artist, I can’t delay any longer.
Before he went, I asked if I could use his phone to call her family in Rio in case she called them for help. Her brother, Barros, answered and became furious in a fit of incoherent paranoia, as if I had kidnapped Clare and would certainly rape and mangle her body at some point. Then the mother took the phone over from him and was also a bit apprehensive, but more reasonable. I assured them that I would find her and that Antwerp, compared to Rio, was like Disneyland — no harm could come Clare’s way. It was getting dark. As soon as Alexander left me behind, I came to the conclusion that the only course to be taken was to try and walk in the same random way that she would, trying not to think too much, just like a tourist, and eventually our paths would cross. I started wandering aimlessly through the narrow cobble-stoned streets of that medieval city, letting myself be drawn by an invisible tide, as if I was swimming in one of the many arms of a huge river that would snake towards the main body of water.
After five minutes, I ended up in the main pedestrian shopping avenue, called Meir. I must not have walked more than about a dozen paces then, before I spotted Clare walking towards me. She opened her arms and hugged me drowsily like a drunken seaman who had been lost at open sea in a small rowing boat with a bottle of rum.
Oh, you found me! You found me...! The first thing we did was look for a bar with a pay phone, in order for her to call her family and her boyfriend Paulo. After she calmed everyone down, we had some drinks, and we went to the main train station. We found out we had just missed the last train to Amsterdam.
We now had to find a hotel, and the thought of possibly staying in the same room with Clare really pleased me. But we needed to eat something first, so we went to a chic local restaurant that we spotted by a square. It was full, so we had to wait at the bar for a table. Clare ordered a Duvel, and fell over backwards as soon as she tried to sit on a stool. It was somehow a graceful fall; I remember staring at her, our eyes locking, and then, almost imperceptibly, she rocked backwards, away from me very slowly, steadily like in slow-motion, until she was on the floor on her back, resting there for a few moments holding her beer, stool and all, as if sitting horizontally on the floor.
Everybody in the restaurant was very attentive and kind, helping Clare stand up. She acted as if nothing had happened, her beer unscathed in her hand, just smiling and quickly drinking while I paid. I took her arm and walked her outside feeling completely embarrassed.
We ate pizza in a random Turkish place, and went off to find a hotel; Clare was completely sedated by now and couldn’t even finish her slice. There was a decent looking place in a corner, and we booked a room with two beds.
While Clare was taking a shower I sat on my bed feeling the excitement build up, thinking about how we stared at each other in the restaurant and imagining her soaping her body — despite some small nagging feelings of guilt towards Paulo. The sound of the shower ceased, and suddenly there was a very loud thud coming from the bathroom. I knocked on the door and called her name but there was no answer. There was an unsettling silence and I tried to open the door, but of course it was locked from inside. I grabbed the room’s phone and waited for the receptionist to answer, hoping he could come up with a master key, imagining Clare lying with her skull open on the bathroom floor, after drunkenly slipping on the wet tiles. How could I possibly break that news to Barros? I could never go back to Rio again.
When the receptionist picked up the phone I hung up; I thought: maybe I should just leave, they’ll never find me, we didn’t need to show our IDs. Then all of a sudden, a loud series of giggles started echoing from under the door crack.
She came out wrapped in two towels and a cloud of steam, a soapy fragrance filling the air, as I pretended to read a book. I decided to take a shower myself; when I came out she was already deep in alcoholic slumber in the other bed. I tried to go to sleep in my own bed, but my Carioca macho super ego wouldn’t let me, so I got up and tried to get under Clare’s blanket. Without opening her eyes, she pushed me away, and kicked me back to my own bed. The next day, we decided to not pay for the room, and tried to sneak past the reception desk, but we were caught.

Tags: Mangle, Pablo Pijnappel