A second consecutive night train, six berth couchettes with four empty beds, train stops, platform voices, figures flitting on the threshold. I tell myself to be a little more accepting of what comes this way and end up sleeping in the suspended state of Shroedinger’s cat.
We’re on the last of seven legs to Istanbul. It’s a place that was always lurking in the background of the crowd subjects I’ve been painting. Twenty years ago I was in the city with my mother, and it seemed to be brimming with stateless people trying to access western Europe – untitled crowds.
In my mind they became particles organized by the state of leaving, a form created in the process of exiting something. This indeterminate multitude in the extremity of an exterior space, and in its organizing form an unobtainable interior object.
Beckett’s poem The Vulture begins with an image that brings something of the strange space into play.
Dragging his hunger
through the sky
of this skull shell
of sky and earth
With a medieval imagination, the picturing pulls together disparate elements in concrete terms. Speaking of a modern dilemma, I think therefore I am… everything.
Stooping to the prone
Who must soon take up
Their life and walk
Mocked by a tissue
That may not serve
Til hunger earth
And sky be offal.
In Sofia today a Jordanian man tending a community space told us he lives in Milan now. He’s in Bulgaria for a spell till a visitors visa for Europe can once again be activated; living in Milan for three months then a ninety day excursion to Sofia, a seasonal adjustment.