A Recipe for Perogies
In the spring of 2020, I began making sculptures that resembled pillows. Pillows made from the oils of orange, soybean, coconut, honeycomb, and lavender. Blue vervain, silk, mica, and quite a lot of dirt. Into these forms, I slipped all the stuff that floats in jars, small trays, and the back of drawers: rose petals and broken hair clips, obsolete electronics, safety glass which might have come from windows shattered by riots, keys to our first apartment, a few pawprints. We have so much love for these sorts of things. Some special consequence trails behind them, clattering unnecessarily, anachronistically. The emblematic trace of whatever—made more precious in the sun and catch of our attention. The last of their service value held by our interest, still. Attention often feels like obligation, and I am happy to place them cushioned, caught, and protected between soft layers, suspended, out of sight. For some time, they will exist outside the normal run of events, protected from unforeseen forces.
Within these forms I recognize the worries of living and working within a world locked in perpetual crisis. When to write in the present tense is to wrap one’s thoughts in wax, to play waiting games with the future. Will anyone want an art of this time? Actively, silently, collectively, perhaps not.
To comfort ourselves, we dream the way of objects. Surviving the most mundane of these years by living a twisted definition of change: the rhythm of throwing away old stuff to make room for anything new. Nevertheless, metaphors are inescapable; hands analogize the world without consent. I highlight a passage from Édouard Glissant’s Poetics of Relation, “Internal exile tends towards material comfort, which cannot really distract from anguish.”[i] It is disingenuous to compare my life to the conditions Glissant experienced living within colonized Martinique but nevertheless I copy-paste the line into my quotes folder sensing future correspondence, waiting for application, a protection against forgetting.
Every few months, I exchange postcards with my cousin Yves. Mine are scribbled; all available space filled densely, chaotically. His are neatly printed in a former engineering student’s sans-serif. Occasionally they contain recipes for coffeecake, family recollections, holiday greetings. More frequently, they extend a thought carried over from our lengthy, seasonal telephone conversations.
Following a discussion on synchronicities, I send: “Nothing fits inside a snake quite so snugly as another snake” from my e-book copy of Mark O'Shea’s, The Book of Snakes.
He responds with Henri Bergson’s, “The present contains nothing more than the past and what is found in the effect was already in the cause”—a passage that marks the plaque outside Calgary’s City Hall.
Weeks pass by and I reply with a line pulled from anthropologist David Graeber and archeologist David Wengrow’s The Dawn of Everything, “Marx put it best: we make our own history, but not under conditions of our own choosing.”[ii]
[i] Édouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation, trans. Betsy Wing (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997).
[ii] David Graeber and David Wengrow, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021).