litany for the long moment, 2

Barthes: “Thus the life of someone whose existence has somewhat preceded our own encloses in its particularity the very tension of History, its division. History is hysterical: it is only constituted if we consider it, only if we look at it – and in order to look at it, we must be excluded from it.”

-=-

Artificial memory #1: Grove of white birch trees. Francesca in a white dress. She holds her arms up. They are branches. Hair falling down, obscuring her face. She walks closer. Her arms grow wings.

Artificial memory #2: Francesca on the beach. Sand on her legs and in her hair.

-=-

The problem of femininity: “Not only female but feminine. So insufficiently critical, insufficiently conscious of it critical potential.”

-=-

Artificial memory #3: The family in the country. A stone house by a stream in a field of white birch trees.

I do not remember a stream. I remember a graveyard. I remember the coolness of headstones beneath my fingers.

-=-

Imaginary museums: Museum of Ruined Houses. Museum of Lost Fathers. Museum of Remembered Graveyards. Museum of Things Left Behind after Death. Museum of White Light. Museum of Fitful Sleeping. Dream Museum. Museum of Summers at the Shore. Museum of Mourning. Museum of Forgetting.

-=-

Elaine Kim: “My mother thought of herself as Korean, although she did not visit Korea until she was sixty years old. Tense and silent, she did not tell stories. The women’s stories I heard were told by my father, who was oblivious to women’s dreams and desires. There were only two, both centering on female loyalty, chastity, and sacrifice: the tale of Choon-hyang, a kisaeng’s daughter who remained loyal to her high-born lover despite torture and imprisonment, and the story of Simchung, the filial daughter who sacrificed herself for her blind old father.”

-=-

Artificial memory #4: My father sits in a wooden chair in a dimly-lit room. It is night, and there is wind. He is facing a television screen, black and white. Muted, the figures rush in and out of frame. My father, unmoving and silent.

-=-

Francesca, in a letter, January 4, 1980:

 “….I was happy because you remember that my work used to be very personal, feminine, too much to do with myself and I wanted to create a bit of distance and also to do something with a more universal significance. Then this fall I was really unwell and I let myself go, I couldn’t sleep etc etc and I got really sick, I couldn’t understand what was happening, you know I am not the delicate type at all. I ended up in the hospital and then at my mom’s house to recover. It wasn’t all bad because I had the time to read the complete works of Proust, which inspired me a lot. I’d really like to create a work of art like that, rooted in and linked to everyday life but addressing questions of great scope.”

-=-

Chastity Museum. Museum of Gendered Space. Museum of the Body. Museum of the Delicate Type. Museum of Woman as Wound:

“all she needed to do, for the images to come, was open the wound.”

-=-

Francesca, at the end of the letter:

“I must get back to work before the light goes.”