A post-nuclear calm, a world of clean energy, small population, the lawn very green, the air very still, the mica in the patio stone glittering, to a child’s eyes, with a mysterious, an impish light, but there are no children. On the worktop, a plastic carton of milk, its contents gradually going off. Utensils, appliances. Near the clock, a high-definition photograph of caribou in falling snow | Lovers, motionless on the bathroom floor. They have no use for their hearts, what have they forgotten? Long black hair, slick as molten crows’ wing, very ancient. On the edge of the bath, an iridescence of shampoo foam, a series of Xanadu pavilions, floating. They have tipped everything out of their glances: somewhere, perhaps, it collects, but in a very different order to the way it arrived in them.

The security guard has taken off his military-style blue peaked cap, and hung it on a peg beside the table. What we see is what we see. Is he alone? Now we are all police, at night, secret criminals run and the streets are like forests. Where does the door painted a washed-out mauve lead? He has no time for liberals. Envelopes, all of manila, and fliers, lie loosely piled on the red-check plastic table cloth | A dolls’ house, antique, part of the inheritance from her mother. She looks in the windows, peeping on the dolls’ world. Does she have an ambition in life, a direction? Not really. To survive, to put off pain. She would like more love but, then again, would it be real love? The kind of love she wants? The men she’s had before, they were unsatisfactory: either too sincere, too cloying; or too insincere, too predatory or parasitical. Those moments you wake up next to a stranger, it might as well be a sea-slug draped in a sheet. No.

The aged woman with her middle-aged son, this entanglement of veins, family trees with intricate, obscure root systems: subsistence, rampage, silk, treats at the fair. The silence between them, the shapes they cut out of space, the room stalled: an aimless life. Acute tenderness: tenderness breathing in the boredom. Gently, they scoop their spirits into the unspoken. Stories dwindling out of knowledge, discarded litmus paper blue | They wandered round the installation, brushing against each other occasionally. The artwork was pompous, glossy, the concepts tired: global, corporate, international house style… Between them, there was a thread, one they longed to pull, but longed even more to leave hanging, perhaps just to hold? She bent closer to read one of the inscriptions, conscious that Lou was close, their bodies devising a quiet, private cycle between them, a modest, delicate, beautiful synchronisation. Relevant or irrelevant, the card read, all things immediately join the ranks of the discarded. Sheilah didn’t think anymore about it, not after a second. Coffee, or home? she asked.

 


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

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