E N D
a participatory project in Union Cemetery / 2013
What is done out of love is religious, not moral. -Nietzche
E N D's ringleaders Bogdan Cheta + Carmina Trsic
There is something queer about wild animals in urban settings: they lurk in parks, and their questionable presence is monitored by the authorities. Like the shadow of a virus - owls, hawks, gofers and rabbits spread through Union Cemetery’s cultural memory. E N D borrows from the proximity of these animals’ model for citizenship, and guides participants in a pilgrimage to a forgotten public square, hidden in the cemetery. The effect is meant to be intimate, invasive and detached, like an airport security guard scanning and patting down the passengers.
The following describes a series of events that took place on Saturday, August 10, 2013. They offer a conceptual platform __________________________
It all started with a meeting I had with a lover that I haven’t seen in 7 years. Like in a dream, he messaged me on Facebook. He now lives in Belgrade, where, to escape rampant persecution, finds himself to be back in the closet, as he artificially dates local unsuspecting women. To have sex with men he takes the train to Madrid and lives double lives. His art practice is also about negotiating this kind of duplicity we all play in our lives. As we sat across from each other, having coffee in his friend’s house, an older art collector, he told me that I was still beautiful. And quiet. Then the dialogue felt like too much was said, and we naturally decided to part ways. Before I left, he gave me a CD by a singer from Portishead, which reminded him of me. To make myself sound cool, I told him I don’t listen to CD’s anymore. We kept the meeting short because the thought that we were somewhere in the world, and still thinking of each other, was more valuable than to know too much about each other’s present. But I was confused. Maybe time is an illusion. A space of non-power. Something I should not labour to understand.
In such situations, when I feel that I failed normalcy, I go for walks in this park, across from what is now the Telus Spark centre. This is the last remaining queer meeting place (and physical evidence of queer ecology) in Calgary.
There, I follow men whom I don’t know - by walking behind them, step for step, until they return to their houses where I usually stand in front of closed doors - devastated, desperate.
This evening, (after the usual targeted 10:30pm police raid, where men that find themselves walking without a visible purpose in the dark, are sanctioned with $300 tickets) I accompanied a man up to his doorstep. I made sure that I camouflaged myself enough to disappear in the background.
With a sudden urge, unsuspected in me, I opened the gate and followed the man stealthily into the yard. Meanwhile he entered the house without observing me and I remained alone in the middle of the path leading up to the house. A strange idea passed through my head.
There was a flowerbed in the middle of the garden. In an instant I was in the center of it, and kneeling with my hand to my heart, head uncovered, I assumed a position of prayer. Here’s what I wanted: to remain standing like this for as long as possible, immobile, petrified in the middle of the flowerbed. For a long time I had been tormented by this longing to commit an absurd act in a completely foreign place, and now it had come to me spontaneously, without effort, almost like a joy. The warm evening hummed around me, and in the first moment I felt an enormous gratitude to myself for the courage of having made this decision.
I told myself to remain completely motionless even if no one chased me away and I had to stay like that until the next morning. Gradually my legs and hands stiffened and my position acquired an interior shell of infinite calm and immobility.
How long did I stay like that? All of a sudden I heard vociferations inside the house and the outdoor light went off.
In the dark I was better able to feel the night breeze and the isolation in which I found myself, in the garden of a stranger’s home.
A few minutes later the light came back on and then went off again. Someone in the house was turning the light on and off to see what effect this would have on me.
I continued to remain motionless, resolved to face more serious trials than the game with the lights. I kept my hand over my heart and my knee planted in the ground.
The door opened and someone came out into the little garden while a deep voice shouted from the house: “Leave him alone, let him be, he’ll go away by himself.” The man that I followed earlier, in the dark came over to me. He was wearing an old Disney shirt, and his briefs. He looked into my eyes and didn’t say anything for a few seconds. We both remained silent. Finally, he put his hand on my shoulder and said gently “Come... it’s over now,” as if he wanted me to understand that he had understood my gesture and had remained silent for some time in order to allow it to play itself out in its own way.
This spontaneous understanding disarmed me. I got up and wiped the dirt from my pants. “Your legs aren’t hurting you?” he asked... “I wouldn’t have been able to stay motionless for so long...” I wanted to say something but couldn’t manage anything other than to murmur “Good evening” and left hurriedly.