It’s still late and I am still up thinking about things. This time, I am thinking about the feeling of sadness. It’s not that I want to be dramatic or emotional or anything like that. The truth is, I was never the type of person to reveal, let alone flaunt, the true depth and complexity of emotions that I could feel, and I am still mostly the same. If someone looked carefully enough, as few have, or deeply enough, as fewer have, they would see however, that my heart could be stopped – that it has been stopped, and on many quiet occasions through my 29 years I have been so overcome by the intensity of sadness in a true moment of sadness, or by the intensity of sorrow that makes a truly beautiful moment possible and real, that I could have sworn it was not my own heart that stopped.
Anyways, there appeared an image in my mind this morning, an idea rather, of making a little sculpture of a heart. First I would need to find the materials to make it just right without being the real Thing: things like found-objects of course, or hand-made fabrics and imagined textures - anything and everything to give it the right density, the right dimensionality, the right consistency, the right clarity, the right fluidity, the right fragility, the right sturdiness, the right stability, the right suppleness, the right sweetness, the right elasticity, the right viscosity, the right texture, the right torque, the right rebound, the right radiance, and the right warp, weft and weave that quite honestly only the hands of time could work well. To the best of my ability then, because I’m not trying to replace the real with the unreal, I’d fill it with an infinite bank of things – not the Things I was writing about earlier, but (things).
Of course I’d represent these (things) with other things - like images, words, letters, thoughts, objects, colors, photos, substances, and with these things I would build the structure from a scratch, line the walls with a sweep, crease the hollows with a squint, and fold the bends in a snap. I would layer upon layer upon layer images and text and fabric in some places and in others there would only be an indication of silence and space. Slowly, and sometimes quickly, the structure would thus be filled. I would insert things - sometimes carefully, sometimes haphazardly, sometimes violently, sometimes methodically or meticulously or meditatively or meanderingly. Some things would hang, some would fall, some things would be stacked, and in one chamber, perhaps a heap of things would melt into each other so that in time they became just one heap of Thing.
Photos would of course be placed carefully, perhaps like stamps licked and secured onto a letter to a lover in another lifetime, perhaps like old Polaroids frozen in frames in grandma’s foyer. I would not worry about the perfection of either form or content. It would fold and unfold organically and fit together like a good puzzle, which always has to have a few key missing pieces. And then, when all the things were finally in place, I would play music. (Insert music here.) And more. So much more. Then, I would sit the structure in a bath and wash it gently with salts and sponge while I read poetry – from Synder to Whitman, from Basho to Keats and of course, more. I would sing to it, whistle like a bird, yell angrily at it from a distance and then lay it to sleep whispering fairytales through its windows which I would have made with glass found on a foreign shore. I would do it all, all the while carrying this project around in a bag, or in a pocket, or in my arms, or on a leash, or wrapped in a scarf, to tone its structure, fortify its walls, to weather its sails. I would take it to the park to watch leaves falling to the ground and birds flying south. I would take it to a playground to observe children building castles in the air. We would watch the Discovery Channel and RESTRICTED channels and unrestricted news channels. I would take it for long walks on lonely roads to listen to stars whispering wishes back and forth. I would teach it to dance while drinking scotch and to smoke a puff while staying upright. I would put it in my basket and we would ride to the edges of the city, from east to west and north to south, and when we hit the river’s edge we would jump in and comment on how cold but refreshing it was. On a summer day we would ride a rollercoaster and scream; on a fall one we would ride our savings at the racetrack and scream louder still. We would do this and more. So much more. And much more still.
I admit what you feel. I feel my heart like a cliché. I also feel it like a metaphor and a poem and an organ playing over itself, laughing and crying to its own crazy tune. Like I said, I am not trying to be dramatic. Drama and unauthentic poetry are killers these days. I have no patience for them. I am suspicious of all romanticism. I am irritated at all glances too long and all looks too self-consciousness trying to impose meaningful meaning. I have to say that because there is something I forgot to mention because I got sidetracked in the invention of my idea, sidetracked in a good way though, which is why I didn’t stop. The original idea was much more solemn, much more sad, at least on the surface, but like I explained, I am not trying to be melancholy.
Anyhow, running straight through the thickness and the layers of this heart, both learned and protected, both made of real things but not The Real Thing, shot clear through its center, there is a hole. Although this image too seems cliché, hear me when I say, ‘it is just a point of departure,’ for it begs the question: Is a heart ever really whole? One may mend a broken heart, cork the holes, sew the seams and sew them twice again. But, is not every whole heart then, really just a quilt of patch-worked holes? I don’t mean it in a bad way, or a sad way necessarily, but in a necessary way. I ask the question, feeling with the in and out of air through my lungs the same permeable answer. A hole is a portal, a port of exit but also of entry. Indeed, if a heart has no holes it can never be emptied, or filled. It must have holes. And the size of what enters is only so large as what has left, and vice versa of course; both are dependent on the size, or the stretch and bounce at least, of the only space that is ever truly empty – occupied by nothing – the hole.
So, my heart here, this ongoing art project, perhaps made of glass in some places, plastic in others, clay, sand, concrete, jello, glue, hairspray, lambswool, silk, blood, dirt, soap, milk, juice, paper, meat, bricks, bark – this heart that hosts a million small holes and certainly one large hole would be hung like a coat left out in the rain – but in this case maybe in the northeast corner of some industrial factory, the kind that has greasy, ashy walls and pipes like arteries running through it like a maze. Anyways, it would be hung there, a large disconnected, disembodied heart dangling in space made of every material known to man, and filled with every thing known to all. Then, rather matter of factly, through the hole there would be a single light, lighting the room via this hole. I know it evokes all kinds of religious connotations but because I believe in the reinvention of religious archetypes I don’t mind. Anyways, in the dark space of this building, room, world, the light would be focused on a word, placed on a table, maybe next to some newspaper whose clippings I would have included as walls of the sculpture, or maybe next to a drawing of some fruit in a basket and a title that we could all imagine saying: Stilllife No.189,9879,990. Anyways, the light would mostly shine on the word. It would be discreet and many people would not even notice it. Some would have to squint. Some would need to take a piece of glass and bend it into a round to magnify the image. Some would only notice the paper but not the word. Those that managed to see however, would smile softly, or maybe slowly run a finger beneath their eye in a gentle sweeping motion. I don’t know why, I don’t know anything really, but maybe some would walk out in a huff – either feeling nothing but a waste of time, or that everything leading up to that moment still contains the possibility of being wasted time. Anyways and regardless, it would somehow be important. Not dramatically or overly romantically important, but important nonetheless to the overall reading of the work; that this sole structure housing every Thing and every (thing) that lines, frames, and supports the weight and walls of a world, should in its fullness, read only through its emptiness, an impression of a singular-lit notion: WHOLE
-Chanti Wadge, 2005