I woke up Sunday morning, feeling completely refreshed. I got up, only to discover that it was in fact only 3am. I have grown accustomed to my body’s sudden disregard of an inner thermostat, but this? Is this a sign that my body is now also prepared to let go of its attachment to a circadian rhythm?…yet another step in the slow unmooring of a body aging? Or, was this only a slip of time sliding sideways? Then, I noticed that my two clocks indicated different hours. My body is obviously following some other unknown clock, but it appeared that my computer knew that we gain one hour in France. At 3am at the scheduled time, the hour jumped back to 2am. – the exact moment my body fell out of sleep.
This week I also gained an extra day. Wednesday I crawled out of bed at a still dark time to join Mona and Tanya, colleagues from La Cité in the Pont Marie subway directly in front of the studio. Off we went straight to the Gare du Nord station. From there, we climbed aboard the Euro Star and headed west hurtling backwards into a dream. Through a tail end of night, we talked, we slept and at last we came up from under a dark night sea into the soft-hilled daylight of east London.
By 9:30, for 7£90 each, we had stomachs well-greased on a good English breakfast and we were fully charged for the day. Our only destinations: the two Tates. At Tate Modern, we discovered the work of Cildo Meireles, an installation artist from Brazil with a poetic and powerful sense of material. Two works stand out for me: Babel, an imposing tower of functioning, blinking old to new radios and Through, a labyrinth of fences and walls installed on sheets of unstable floor of plate glass. The glass shatters as we walk and it reminded me of ice, thick enough to hold, but groaning and cracking under our weight. The Rothkos were too serious, underlit and sober, but the centre of the room where they were installed had many benches, each one full of people seated in couples and in groups, looking and talking completely engaged in their conversations. The people were echoeing the structures of the works: rectangles on a field in a mirrored dialogue. The gallery was absolutely full. I always love the Tate Modern: the open spaces, the views and the work is always well presented.
At Tate Britain, we bought tickets to the Francis Bacon retrospective and the Turner Prize contestants. I had little expectation for the show; I had been subjected to too many appropriations of Bacon’s imagery by artists in the 80’s and had never had any first-hand experience of his work. I was completely blown away by it. Work has to be seen LIVE to be appreciated. The power of his gestures and imagery filling room after room was physical in its intensity. Perhaps if I had been introduced to his early figures on dark blue backgrounds, I would have continued to paint as an undergrad. At that time, I was only interested in the figure and was always at a loss with the background. I eventually abandoned painting completely. The Turner Prize show was depressing. No more to be said. The museum was closing; the sun was going down; we took the subway to St Pancreas station; had a drink; got back on the train and in the dark we let ourselves drift back into a contented sleep, heading eastward and back to our beds in Paris.