THE HOUSE AND OTHER CUISINES
A text in abbreviation of happening upon and eating with The Western Alliance during their residency, URGENCY/AGENCY with Istanbul based artists Volkan Aslan and Iz Oztat.
“…I could describe the temporary abode for creative-construct as it was. But then that would make fiction in to fact: not sure that's the desired affect. Instead I leave this as a story, a reply, or a continuing of a journey towards publication… a document for shared experience and wholesome fuel for further delectable-discourse…”
I was given a time and a place
I was told to arrive at the time of seven thirty. When I did turn up no one was there – I meandered for a while and past the restaurant a few times. I then followed some people or perhaps I was more aware that they might have felt they were being followed – I was just looking to pass some time by walking in a general direction. I returned around three or four times, re-tracing my tracks or avoiding paths already taken. I hid round a corner with the flashing lights of Ti cuisine in sight, poised, ready to walk at a reasonable pace and ‘arrive’ again fashionably, expectantly and enthusiastically late. They were still not there.
I took the choice of entering the restaurant. I entered in to a dialogue with the waitress. She asked which name I was under for the reservation – I realised I knew none of these people’s names I recall someone called Chris who worked for an organisation in Penzance, he was the one who bestowed upon me the ‘invitation’ and showed me the restaurant around the corner from the networking event where we had just met – he had made me coffee – and we exchanged cards/email addresses.
[ -- Before returning to the restaurant for the first time I had taken a walk back to the hotel where I was staying to contemplate the invitation – I phoned my friend Jade to ask her opinion on whether my attending was a good idea or not. Whilst at the hotel I had two conversations with her, one outside next to the shore and one inside the hotel room.
Jade was distracted by the wind channelling down the acoustics of the phone so conversation no.1 was cut short - I had put her on speaker phone so she could listen to the waves on the shore. Conversation no.2 took place in the bath where I made my own waves by copying with my body the landscape outside; it’s inhabitants and the environment: “creativity here undulates and transposes across many-a-place disseminating a holistic hub athwart geographical/traversable locales: they make their own city – their own centrality.” -- ]
I stank of complementary travel soap and the waitress could smell it on me for sure.
The restaurant remained empty – still I had no names for the people who were yet to arrive and they had no idea I was waiting for them. All the collected cards and email addresses were left stuffed in my bag. I was too busy having a bath and making conversation with Jade to remember them. The bath overran and I was late. But then I realised I can actually walk pretty fast and arrived ten minutes early. But the other ‘people’ were then half an hour late. So I was always set to be early anyway.
One thing – the reason why they were late is the same reason why I thought I was to be late. Conversations. Conversations in bathtubs: conversations about the sea, next to the sea, and about the southern coast of Cornwall. About journeys made and people met. They then arrived and I had already chosen from the menu what I was to be eating and the waitress had memorised this, she was determined to keep my business.
People are used to travelling now and being in a space called “never the same place”: I am still getting used to it and toiling over the digestibility of its conversational cuisine. So the Western Alliance went to the 2009 Istanbul Biennial to source collaborative residency relationships and invite artists back to Cornwall. They had to generate a hub. So they hired a house. They were talking about a place I had never been, it was at this point I fell out of the loop. They were regurgitating things in and around this house across the restaurant table – actions – jobs to do, familiarities held, all towards constructing a familial creativity. I was there as an outsider but was beginning to get used to the conversation’s taste.
The house was to produce a publication for exhibition, a menu of eventual dissemination for others to read, chew and swallow: a conserve of the residency made. I still had little concept of this house: it was more of a collection of people to me so I started making my own recipe for its description.
The house was on a hill. It had a corduroy sofa and porthole windows looking over the sea and the cliff below. The hill was a cliff in Penzance somewhere near St. Ives. Something to do with Falmouth and people had cars too. They were going to drive to the house as it was too far to walk and they were going to function there as a creative mass. They were to be exposing their individual practices in order to divulge in to the rest of the week that lied ahead – I was to be back in Glasgow at the time of completion.
In ten days flat they were to meet, greet, get to know – collaborate – generate and swap ideas and experiences. Part of this was to be in London, which is around five hours on the train; a full day’s worth of travelling, there and back again. Its Tuesday morning as I write this, I am heading from Penzance to Plymouth to change before the train follows on to Paddington – Sheffield is my final destination and then on to Glasgow at the end of the week. I urged them to think of how travel time could be used to record ideas and make work.
It was around 10pm and after the restaurant we took a wrong turn: I was following a little out of conversation yet observant of them as a caravan of creative impulse. They were off to make plans as well as to eat pudding.
Do they all live in the same place? Do they all live on a hill and make art and do exhibitions and, you know, do things – like a generator of an art machine. The house must be on the top of a hill, beautifully lit by the moonlight, reflecting the shape of the portholes-for-windows, crossing circular shapes of light across the lines of corduroy on the couch – the first floor had enough rooms to house them all, in comfort. At this point I started to guess the relationship between them all. Were any of them partners? Some of them looked very much alike…
They then corrected themselves and took a route through a blackened alleyway. There was no light just conversation to guide me.
We then descended towards the sea front, down hill not up.
I am back in Glasgow in my ‘house’, the top floor of a tenement block. I am typing whilst facing south. I am not travelling yet I feel anything but stationary. There is an odd cry of a gull or two flying in from the West over the Clyde. There is no sound of waves just the odd creaking of hydraulic breaks from buses passing by.
I’ve been listening to these buses for around a month and today up popped an email telling me the publication has been made, printed and produced. They want to post some up to me in Scotland to pass around, furthering their dissemination. As a guest in the house of Western Alliance I finish this text in acceptance of their request.
The House, the ‘City’, and the Centrality: the collection of people and minds and publication of ideas. This concept is traversable as well as inhabitable. It is also engrossing, much like the discourse digested at the restaurant table: in the end mine was a spicy noodle soup and a further invitation to the ‘house’ itself. I of course agreed to that invitation too. I sat, sipped tea and observed their further plans – activities I would miss upon leaving town the following morning.
I could describe the temporary abode for creative-construct as it was. But then that would make fiction in to fact: not sure that's the desired affect. Instead I leave this as a story, a reply, or a continuing of a journey: then on to the publication. A document for shared experience and wholesome fuel for further delectable-discourse.