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Travelogue G6

December 2, 2015

On our way out of the gallery and in the central foyer, we met with a group of colorful columns. Ten or so metal hoops hung from the ceiling high above, and from each hoop draped a mesh fabric red or green, orange or blue, yellow or violet. The fabric was tapered, made in such a way that it narrowed the farther it went down, from the meter width of the hoop to that of a finger.

Below each finger sat a plastic tub. Though two meters in width, its edge measured only a few centimeters. Looking more closely, we noted that the tub’s bottom was coated with a substance the make-up of which we went back and forth about for some time. For, though red and claylike beneath, a loose powder dusted the lower layer with white. Unable or unwilling to find the artist’s description, we instead hazarded guesses at its purpose of which the most interesting proved an ash mandala, the artist having poured the different materials through the top hoop to watch them fall through the mesh arcing in soft circles about the tub below.

That evening found us in a Camden Town pub boasting an impressive beer selection. Though known worldwide as a purveyor of punk culture and alternative lifestyles, the neighborhood, from what I could ascertain during our brief walk through the streets, struck me as too neat and orderly to merit such. Indeed, the streets, shops and bustle rather gave the impression that a group of entrepreneurs had gone over the whole with a fine comb, taken that which fit with lifestyle packages, ready to be sold to the consumer, and thrown to the margins that which resisted. In this way, Camden Town’s alternative culture found itself reduced, or so it seemed, to easily digestible bites.

In the pub, I awaited the end of the day’s outing with beer in hand. Try though I might, I was unable to speak or, more accurately, could find neither room at table nor a lapse in conversation enough to intervene. So I gave up on the table where the lingua franca remained my mother tongue and interested myself, as best I could, in the vinyl records brought out one by one by the disc jockey that evening.

Out in the evening air, we hurried beneath a sky grown heavy with rain. Somewhere between the underground stop and the flat, we had to pull up beneath a tree to wait out the worst of the downpour. In time, it slackened, and we continued on our way. Through the flat’s windows, I watched the rain in the garden, lighter though still falling and backlit by the orange street lamps. In the bathroom, rain and the window’s frosted glass deformed the street lamp behind; rain stretched the orange halo at either end into the form of a flayed man.

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