SoI had a coffee with Bryony on Wednesday. Bryony had a flat white and banana bread and I had an Americano and an apple. Bryony asked me whether I had noticed the reflections of the light bulbs in the window. I had. We sat in silence for 2 hours. Then Bryony asked: ‘Rosa how did feminist ideas impact the way you ran ____gallery, the ___months artist residency and gallery program you set up in Colliers Wood with the help of a free space and £____ grant you got from ____university after graduating.
Bryony told me that later, at a well attended event, she expose her vagina. It was a massive crowd pleaser, she said.
I said to Bryony - it's water under the bridge you know? Like a vessel hollowed-out it flowed through me. What was left? Well I was clean and round like a barrel of a gun.
I don't sleep for 36 hours. An anxious lassitude has come over me and I can't be alone so I call my bird like friend and he tells me stories about driving for hours and hours through the bright flatness fading into dark and setting the road on fire and breaking his nose. Then the guy in the Picasso suite knocks and tells me stories about lighting the bench on fire and three stories about breaking his nose and playing knives. This is how you play Knives: Everyone gets a knife. Breakfast and then on the train I'm sitting next to the guy who put that nail in his nose yesterday. It's a real nail. There's a duct between your cheek and your skull just under the eye, he explains. Once, he said, we piled up dead Leaves and lit the road on fire. My uncle ran over a moose and his car was covered in blood and fur and gristle. This uncle had a gun. He left let me hold it once. It was heavily and it scared me. Rosa? Yes. Quickly (haha), how did Feminist politics influence your intentions? I think about the way his eyes watered, the pained twinge of his mouth as he hammered the nail in inch by inch and I feel like a fraud. I really don't think they did. The whole thing was pretty incoherent and founded more on my desire. I got really uncomfortable. I don't know. I have no narrative. It's more just something that happened. That lots of people were involved in.
When I was 15 I had a boyfriend called L. It was light outside and we were lying on his bed. Do you think I am beautiful? I ask. Sometimes, he says. We roll into Paddington and swim through the crowd. Wave after wave breaking over me and I swallow salt water and coffee but try not to show how much I'm struggling. At the ticket barrier a station attendant turns to me. Her dark uniform falls in bold ill-fitting folds over her large chest. Her feet seem incredibly remote to me and I ache to touch and hold them. She gently grasps my chin and bring my face to hers. Rosa. How did you find doing it / how did you do it (money / time / labour / enjoyment)? I didn't. I stopped. Rosa, have you slept? I look down.
As told at the Wittingdale Pavillion
This is the story about a thing that happened and how the shed was built and why. It is untrue in several important ways. In this story the dead bird appears twice; once at my grandparents house and once at B&Q where the man holds it’s plump body by a toothpick leg. I guess I wish you had told me the truth right away. But you will have insisted that the sense of revelation and betrayal is the only way to access the actual content of the events.
I would start with that early evening in Sophie Chapman’s garden; with the ivy and the roses and the fence like a wooden facsimile of my canines and the hole in the back wall that is boarded up but not really. If you flip the garden up on that side, the grass would droop down along the ground like when I wash my hair and it’s heavy and almost straight and almost everything would fall out; the cat, the people, some of my friends pretty much all of the tools and the snails and all of the thumbtacks and nails. Not the shed though; it would just slide down and clog up the hole.
But even before I have said all of this, I know that you will have wanted me to start before that. Before the bit about the birds and the cold golden tartness of that lateish September. You will they wanted me to start on the night I met my friend E. at the pub near Earls Court and I was on the phone for 26 minutes in the clean prettily tiled ladies bathroom. They had those purple and powdery green flowers that might be dried or fresh or really good fakes. It was dark outside and my dress was wet from cycling through the deluge. It hadn't been so bad when I set out. But right along that road that runs past the park with those giant fat yellow cable drums, over the bridge that intercepts that tenuous verticality of river and sky. The chop-chop of the uneasy water reflecting the blander anxiety of the overwrought clouds.
Trying remember, those orange late night time cranes swing heavily through my mind. Are you sure?
I meet Mao Tse-Tung, occupation: revolutionaries statement, at the Cereal Killer Cafe. I'm just having coffee but Mao’s got a bowl of fizzing crackling Coco Pops in front of him.
Mao says: I was born on December 26, 1893 in Shaoshan village, Hunan Province, China. My father, Mao Yichang, was an impoverished peasant who had become one of the wealthiest farmers in Shaoshan. I would go on to describe my father as a stern disciplinarian, who would beat me and my three siblings, the boys Zemin and Zetan, and an adopted girl, Zejian. My mother, Wen Qimei, was a devout Buddhist who tried to temper her husband's strict attitude.
Quickly he moves his soft full hand over mine. I feel the pressure of his palm, his fingers dry and powdery and then something hard and sharp. He retracts his hand shily. When I look, I see that he has given me this.
So I cycle home in big slurry curves. The world has become unfocused; contours pushed to the periphery in the dark. Smells of night; the orange glitter. Tiger tiger burning bright I think and tumble into the ditch like a bag of cotton balls spilled on the bathroom floor I roll around in the thick wet smell of Earth and grass and imagine the tingling feeling I'll have when the mud has dried; tickling slightly on the skin of my face and hands as it shrinks and then the pinching of peeling; the fine hairs on my body stretching and being released, stretching and snapping. Jamie Oliver is lying next to me in the dirt. Jamie Oliver, I say. Yeah, he says. I reach for his hand and he pulls me to him with his arm so that my head lies on his shoulder. I bury my face in his chest and he smells like man and like television. By now our clothes are saturated with mud and if the sun rises now we will be baked into clay husks. Jamie has a penknife so we can cut open our rigid chrysalises and step naked into the soft dry heat of the noonday sun. We walk together on the cracked earth and as we part Jamie Oliver bend over me and smells the crown of my head. It must smell like hair, I think. He speaks and I feel his lips brush my scalp, his breath moves the hot air. You've got to spend money to make money, he says.
I walk and find Tackwise in the sun on a wall eating an apple. In the past Tackwise has made certain overtures to me but that is hardly relevant here. I have missed you Tackwise, I say. I climb up next to him, the bricks rough and warm against my bare skin. I saw you the other day at the Cereal Killer Cafe, he says, his hard glossy body arched in anticipation - waiting for my reaction. I didn't see you, I say evenly. He just smiles and we get to work on the floor of the shed. Later Tackwise looks up. Rosa, he says. Yes Tackwise. He pauses for a moment, then: You know what Jamie Oliver said? Yeah. Take it for what it is.
Later on the Tube I sit opposite that bit of wall between the windows and I can't find my reflection.
I had to get off my bike that day for the blue and white flocks in Fulham. I stand among them like a finger in a stream, the feathered fans eddying and rippling around me. My fingers touch the little skull in my pocket but I feel it would be inappropriate to pull it out now. I think of Tackwise and remember my friend E., her face bathed in the golden light of that pub and she says; If he does, it will be the end of everything.
My fingers touch the little skull in my pocket but I feel it would be inappropriate to pull it out now. I think of Tackwise and remember my friend E., her face bathed in the golden light of that pub and she says; If he does, it will be the end of everything.
Above: Infaltable Rosa Getting ready for day at the beack with the Whittingdale residency group. Whittingdale is an ongoing residency under the Tory government. Meat Rosa had to go on a residency in Cornwall at Hay Studios so inflatable Rosa stepped in.
Below: On Beach Day we, as aritists, were attempting to literally emerge.
Inflatable Rosa comes with accessories (Sketchbook, laptop, phone, headphones, backpack, King of Art crown) and is 100% right hemisphere.
Work Bathroom Residency at Sophie Chapman's house. All work shown one-on-one in the bathtub.