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spacer Talking to Tania
Introduction
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



swat viewpoint

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tools

Richard Layzell – Talking to Tania 1
Day 6 • Sunday 8 August 2004 • Skyros, Greece

TK Last day

RL For here

TK And you took a day off

RL Yes

TK What do you want to talk about?

RL What happened on Day 6 and its significance for us.

TK Anything about the day off?

RL It was 24 hours, 11.00 Sat to 11.00 Sun.

TK But the way you’ve been talking I can’t imagine a complete detachment from the time on either side. You’ve been talking about a continuum, and then about compartmentalising, on Day 5.

RL It was a relief not to be working. Although in the afternoon we’re back at the Hotel Dioni pool and this time I’m covered in tattoos. So work and leisure were intertwined again.

On Sunday morning [Day 6] I’m having a later swim and ideas for the day begin to surface. I swim ashore and collect bamboo roots and stems, depositing them beside the moped.

TK So, we’re talking retrospectively again, it’s Monday morning now.

RL Yes. I’m sitting in the Plateia, not sure of the time, probably about 09.45. Yannis is sporting a short white jacket this morning, the kind that dentists wear in the UK. I’m listening to one of the pirate CDs I bought from one of the Nigerian street-sellers. Their clunky backpacks are laden with illicit music. It works. Lounge music. Café del Mar. Volumen diez. Mixed by Bruno.

TK Bruno Moldari?

RL It doesn’t say.

TK He’s a friend of my brother. It’s probably him.

RL Oh

TK Have you tried a fredo yet?

RL Funny you should mention that.

TK Why?

RL I bumped into Maro in the breakfast bar on the day off. She’s visiting from Athens for a few days with Kim. She’s 8 months pregnant. I was drinking a frappe and she told me about fredos as she sipped her own.

TK Incorporated

RL Incorporated

TK First thing?

RL Not quite. First thing was more white on white, on the roof of Thomas’. On the moped I took a different route, stopping off at the new supermarket to look for string, and bought two fly swats.

TK My idea?

RL Kind of. This was definitely our most collaborative day.

TK Pleased to hear it.

RL But I’d also been recalling a temporary installation in Poland [alongside Samples of The Modern World, Oronsko, 1997] that used washing lines and two vehicles. It took a long time to set up but didn’t work. I rarely even think of it.

TK Surely we’ve gone beyond the language of ‘working’ or not?

RL Maybe that’s what made me think of it. Similar with white on white: an unrealised idea.

TK I’ve noticed other notes on your studio wall about focusing on failed or abandoned concepts.

RL Yes. By the way, how's the sublet going, while I’m away?

TK It’s a bit damp, but a great space. Good timing for me, a lot on. How did we get on to this?

RL The search for string

TK That led to fly swats

RL Yes

TK Present tense?

RL It’s a different start to the day.

TK It’s a different day

RL It’s the last day and I’d like to explore some of the thoughts or ideas for the project, which haven't yet been covered.

TK You sound like an artist

RL I feel more like one, today.

TK What’s the difference?

RL More visual. Maybe a different relation to the notebook. The deadline. Your input?

TK And you’re ok with this?

   

fredo moments
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soccer swat
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still life
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panther
RL Relaxed about everything today, going for it, celebrating. Lots to refer to [from previous days], lots to do, and ok not to do. The work/art issue doesn’t seem significant today.

I park in the shade near the Ferugia beach bar. I purposely enter wearing the silver moped helmet and order my first ever fredo. I spread out, taking out the long paintbrushes from the rucksack, then the fly swats, orange and red. I fool with the video camera, then the phone. I’m playing around, mostly with what the camera sees and hears. It’s a version of the ongoing table project [The Room of Freeflow, 2002]. Or not. The orange fly swat against the silver helmet, then filming through it, dog and sea beyond. I know I’m visible. There’s a performative element. Seamless. Inconsequential. Nothing and a little something.

I’m reminded of 12 months ago, working in the Park Caffeen in Lillehammer [Art Work/Work Art, 2003]. This is how I behaved in the quieter moments between serving customers, improvising with tables, looking around through camera lens. But the work/art issue has changed.

TK You’re referencing a lot of artworks today. This fits with you feeling more like an artist.

RL Maybe I’m less self-conscious about the whole thing.

TK More reflective

RL Inevitable, when sitting, sipping and fooling around for over an hour

TK It’s more than that. I think you’re in an easier nether-world than on Day 4, a more workable one. I’m enjoying the detail. Can you be objective and remember how you made decisions?

RL I’ll try.

I think how I’d like to also reveal the presence of the camera to the camera, then rule this out, would need another camera. In the toilet there’s a large mirror, so I reveal panther tattoo and camera to camera. As I leave the bar I sense the response of other people and play on this just enough.

Still looking for string, I stop at my favourite supermarket, the one on the beach road. No string but I hear you saying, “Buy what you can – free up”. I find small straw sweeping brushes, masking tape, clothes pegs, coloured bendy straws, materials to decorate the moped.

TK No streamers, thank goodness.

 

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Antigone meets the muse
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skin paper and bronze
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RL I take the steep road up to Brooke Square and know exactly what I want to do. More memories of International Cleaning [2002]. I relocate the camera position from two years ago, and recall how invisible I was as a cleaner. Tourists are photographing themselves up here, as usual. I place the camera at a lower level, the complete statue in shot. I take out Sophocles, press record and start to walk in clockwise circles around the statue, reading aloud. I’m not invisible. I can’t be. But no-one seems to respond. They carry on with their photography. I’m right in. I’ve gone. My voice grows louder. I emphasise phrases in passages, occasionally whispering, occasionally stopping at the camera, gesturing and repeating words. I take my fancy shirt off [specially chosen for the celebratory final day] and continue.

The square is now empty. Tourists occasionally come and go. My sense is that this is a public space of huge resonance, that here is the muse of poetry with rippling bronze muscles, here a discreet relief of Rupert’s face, and there is a sense of permission all around me. If you can’t recite Sophocles here, walking in circles, varying volume, where else? Ari later points out that people probably see a madman and ignore him. But did they notice the camera? And if someone had been behind the camera, then it all changes.

Whatever’s going on in their minds, I feel utterly empowered, I can do what I like. I play with the words again and again. Is this what actors do? But the words are becoming mine, this is an English translation, I’m making my own: “Pitiful, you suffer so, you understand so much – I wish you had never known” – ”You’ve suffered so much, it’s pitiful, you understand so much of this – if only you’d never known” – ."The pity of it, your suffering, your understanding – who told you?” – ”Pity you, pity us all, the pity of it –” These resonances of desperation put into English by Robert Fagles, I re-claim them, to take them away from a certain kind of theatre.

I start to pack up. Then you intervene.

TK You imagine I intervene.

RL It's something like, just do something ridiculous, Richard.

TK I’d have said, express yourself, don’t hold back.

RL Whatever. I take out the red fly swat and energetically whack the statue. There is a fly, in fact, but I aim to miss him. The sound of plastic on bronze is unique.

TK I’ve got someone coming round in ten minutes, can you précis the rest?

RL Oh. Well, what do you think so far?

TK I think there’s more to come. It’s been a collaborative day. I’d like to hear about the bike. No judgements from me. It’s all interconnected. And I think we should put some time aside to reflect on the whole thing.

 

vertical stand leaning house
RL Before the bike episode I go to the nude beach with Ari, stand still, turn slowly, with the leaning house as backdrop.

I drive back to Thomas’, have a swim while the camera battery charges up, and then decorate the back of the bike with all the stuff from the supermarket. The rucksack is integrated with a clump of straws coming out of the top. I drive it, ask Kim to film me driving it, head back to the village, but want to integrate a shot of the distant volcanic plug [on which the village stands] with bike in foreground. The sun is just going down. The answer is to park, rest camera on lap, film through coloured bendy straws, mountain beyond. This becomes the visual moment of the day, the week even.

 
moped decor in action the final shot
 
  TK How did you feel, riding the decorated bike?

RL Relaxed. Easy. Thinking it was collaboration with you. Celebratory. Oblivious. I’m still carrying the rucksack around with straws poking out the top. Integrated.

TK Is this the end?

RL For now.


 
     
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