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spacer Talking to Tania
Dialogue 1
Day 1 02.08.04
Day 2 03.08.04
Day 3 04.08.04
Day 4 05.08.04
Day 5 06.08.04
Day 6 08.08.04
Dialogue 2
Dialogue 3
Dialogue 4
Dialogue 5
Dialogue 6
Dialogue 7
spacerarrow Dialogue 8
spacerarrow Dialogue 9
spacerarrow Dialogue 10
spacerarrow Dialogue 11
spacerarrow Dialogue 12

painting white on white
all there is

Richard Layzell – Talking to Tania 1
Day 3 • Wednesday 4 August 2004 • Skyros, Greece

TK I suppose we could see this as a continuum, like how you describe Tai Chi, “all part of the same movement”. So, although we're now talking about Day 3, the break for sleep could be seen as an integral part of the cycle, not a break in the chain.

RL I swam at sunrise this morning, sun and moon together. Tired and exhilerated.

TK So, another day starts like the previous. I imagine you took the 08.00 bus again, into town, found a cafe and wrote in your High Notes No2 book before heading for the Internet Cafe.

RL I sat in Yannis' in the Plateia. He's easy company in the early morning, and I was the only customer. Quiet activity around the square. Darren and Sharon joined me at the two other terminals in the Internet Cafe while I sent off Day 2 to Andrew.

TK The couple from Atsitsa?

RL Yes. And they were driving back, so I could finally pick up Simon's moped, which I'd planned to use while he's in Turkey.

TK I don't need to know about Simon. But you having a moped changes things.

RL I got quite excited and maybe I then hit a bit of 'flow', as Csikszentmihalyi would call it, or in-touch-ness, as I'd call it [best I can do just now].

TK For me, it's a groove, a kicking-in, a “don't distract me or I'll lose it”. We claim it as artists but Csik would say we can all access it, I imagine.

RL It was quite brief, the few minutes before we drove off, but long enough for two thoughts, ideas, intuitions, whatever we want to call them. I saw a couple of local people sitting on low walls near the supermarket, where the Lada was parked. I thought about the tradition of sitting here and how sitting could be added to standing very still. I also thought about the moped as sculptural icon: no great leap here as have already explored this in Utica, USA with a car [Rent-A-Car, 1997], but this was more about this project, being on the bike as performer, bike as prop/collaborator, maybe decorated. What do you think?

TK Potential in both. I expect your first thought was to attach streamers to the back of the moped. But we can work on something less obvious, less decorative.

RL Like?

TK More to do with you and bike, you on bike, in transition, place to place, passing people who see you, person/object/motion. Anyway, what's it like?


the arrival

the puncture
RL It's and old Honda, 50cc I think. It was parked at Atsitsa, exactly where Simon had described, covered in a polythene sheet. I picked up the helmet from under Colin's bed in Hurt 38, said hello to Yannis and Mateja, bumped into Peter, Philippa and Ben in their hire car. They were looking for a picnic spot. Peter said I had a flat back tyre. He was right, but with the complications of finding someone who might be able to help and getting drawn into long conversations, I decided it was best to head off and sort it out in Skyros town, at the petrol station on the way in.

TK Good decision?

RL Disastrous. The tyre got flatter by the minute. By the time I reached Yiurgo's taverna it had developed a distinctive limp. At every revolution the back wheel went over its own integral bump. I assumed this to be the inner tube valve.

TK You're not such an experienced moped rider.

RL Too right. This was scary. I stopped at the taverna, hoping that Yiurgos, experienced biker, would be around. He wasn't. The waitress looked at the wheel, shrugged and said “one minute” then sat down again. Not convinced by this I decided to continue onwards, slowly and hopefully.

TK How far was it?

RL I'm not sure exactly. From there, about 12 miles.

TK Were you able to incorporate this driving, riding, limping, swerving, motion experience into the project? Did it become work? Could you go in?

RL I tried, but fear was forcing me out. The bike was very unstable, especially on corners and uneven surfaces. By now the inner tube had separated itself and was flapping around the tyre, so I stopped again and yanked out pieces of rubber. I know this road well, but travelling it at 10 mph was a new experience.

TK So it took you over an hour?

RL It must have been. There was the odd moment when I did experience this noisy, limping, rattling motion-in-time with my own physical bumping and lurching as an equivalent to standing very still.

TK It's the relationship to fear that interests me. The 'fear in tandem with creative risk' thing.

RL You're right. If it hadn't been for our project this would have been just plain irritating and scary, especially as trucks passed me while I crawled and bumped over the desolate mountain pass. But I kept thinking of you, and how we could make this into something.

TK It reminds me of the previous evening at the festival, where the seemingly least relevant experience was the most challenging artistically.

RL That's true. But I had no choice here, as this gradually unfolded as THE DAY OF THE MOPED. I decided to travel straight to the transport source, passing the petrol station by, the moped shop in town, where Simon had bought this ex-rental machine for 250 Euros. Fortunately, I arrived just before siesta at 13.25. Unfortunately, I was told they don't fix these old bikes any longer and the only place to go was the petrol station I'd passed on the Atsitsa road 15 minutes earlier.

I'd had enough. And it was now siesta time. And I felt the pressure of doing some 'work', some 'action', have some lunch and siesta myself. Had the video camera survived? Could I still meet Dina for lunch? The bike could be sorted out later. I'd arrived.


Standing very still
where the animals were

floating bar code

moped envy

the wall with no owner

the welcoming flags

the repair dock

the second installation

the child with puncture
TK What state were you in? Could you see the funny side?

RL Not yet. Ari thought I'd likely damaged the wheel rim, so would need to replace tube, tyre and wheel. I had a brief siesta at his place and decided to spend an hour on the project, our project, this project, before returning to the wounded vehicle.

TK Interesting separation.

RL Yes, like at the hotel pool. Stepping out of his door and into the field below was like entering art space. In theory. This was a chance to explore 'working with animals'. A chicken and her chicks scuttered off in front of me, but that was it. No donkey, no mule, no horse. Gone.

TK Was there a lesson here?

RL I couldn't accept it yet. Did some standing very still, looking out into the landscape. And I did go right in, distracted only by the single person who walked down the hill. I went into sensory space. It was a relief, no longer in staggering motion, stillness was a blessing. I began to focus on temperature, then sound, hearing birds, dogs, insects, then....a moped. And I felt this lurch of envy. A moped that works! Then another, and another. Emotions were taking over and I gradually came back out, returned to the video camera, noticing a barcode in space on a dumped cardboard box. It resonated in the landscape.

Walking back up the hill I noticed two parked mopeds, with good back tyres. Now I was experiencing full-blown moped envy. I was on fire and could think of nothing else.

TK Seriously?

RL Yes. Even my one hour of 'work' had been interrupted by the moped issue, so I gave into it and went back to where it was parked. Approaching the Plateia from the back road I saw again a neglected multi-faceted wall that would be good to work with at some point.

The bike looked innocent and appealing – TMA 2131 – except for the back tyre. A priest was approaching sporting traditional Greek Orthodox black robe, beard and flat hat. I was now astride the machine and willed him, of all people, not to comment on the state of my wheel. He did. This shoved me into a slightly new zone. If he could comment then everyone must be aware of it. I would drive and wave, drive and nod, in full acknowledgement of my condition. I was going in.

TK I think I mentioned yesterday that I don't so much care what happens over these days. I see the focus as less to do with action, more on acceptance, perception and awareness, and the transitions between in and out, you and me.

RL Thanks for the reminder. But I do find it hard to trust that anything's going to happen.

TK I know you do. You can blame me if it doesn't.

RL Thanks.

TK So you got it fixed?

RL The welcoming flags of the petrol station finally appeared. I'd been rehearsing my gestures of despair, to communicate my plight. I slapped hand on head, pointing to tyre. The wheel rim looked ok to me. He looked reluctant. I'll call him Christos. But he would fix it. Or try to. He wheeled it across so that the back wheel leaned over a concrete pit. He could access it from below. Then someone turned up for petrol and off he went. And so it went on. it took as long to get this fixed as my journey from Atsitsa. But this time I went with it as far as I could, with video camera and notebook.

Ilias arrived for petrol, the only English speaker of the island's 8 taxi drivers. He translated for me "He say in such a bad state he must change tyre as well. Who pay?" I'll pay. Thanks Ilias. Situation now clear, but slow. I began to will passing drivers not to stop for petrol, but 50% did. Not speaking Greek, I began to imagine what's being said between the performers in this theatre of motoring: “This back tyre's a bit flat....Someone went into me just there...Where's Yannis?....I got this new wheel, is it the same size as the damaged one? Look at the size of that hole in the tyre, went right through...What the hell are you doing? Can't you help me fix this bloody moped tyre. What a shit job... Leave the wheel there, we'll sort it out for you, I can't do everything at once...I've got this cretin here waiting for his moped, keeps writing in his book...How's it going, man?...Ok, fill it up yourself...”

I've now started to see aspects of the physical space as an installation, and am shaken by its physical location before the backdrop of hills and the town on crater-top beyond. I now see the writing as an act of performance, and also work on developing a machismo stance of impatience and resignation. I've entered the arena. Now I work here. I stare at the motorists as they get out of their driver's seats, often awkwardly. “Here, you finish the bloody thing while I sort the tractor out...Can you put some oil in for me?...Super Unleaded?....Yep....Did you fill it right up?...Yep...Ok, bye....Like the way she bounces, man, heh, heh...”

An eight year-old girl arrives quietly with her push-bike. Only later do I notice her flat tyre. “You got a flat tyre, lovey? Oh dear, let's have a look for you.” If you'd been here, Tania, if you'd been riding, they'd have fixed it for you in no time. I write you a text message:

Wits end moped fiasco. You'd have been served half hour ago. Life as art is all about perception. Am I really an irate customer or in the groove. I can be tough. Rx

You reply:

Cool it RL. It's the Greek way. This is your day. What does it mean? It's ok with me. Get your perception going. Stop writing. Start on the in. Be present. Tx

Finally I drive off and feel like a swim. I'm moving! I'm in the sea as the sun sets. I stand still on the beach and then start some very slow exercises. I recall teaching Steven Berkoff Tai Chi three weeks ago and how he wanted to make it his own. And that's what I'm doing now, exercising on the beach and right in, making it my own.

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