Probably the hardest day of the entire project so far, and yet one in which I must remember a lot did get done. Hard for various reasons: it was physically long – I left the cabin at 7.15am and got back just now at nearly 10pm; it was frustrating since I was unable to contribute much myself so spent a lot of time seeing how much I would need to do but unable to start; the weather, which began fair but rapidly deteriorated into atrocious; and it was depressing both because I realise how far my Danish has to go, and because I see how hard it will be to do work that is anyway hard under these conditions. The only sink and running water is a public portaloo which had a heroine addict ‘s bloody syringe on the floor today, there is no hot water, and the only way being offered of accessing the upper parts of the 4m high slanting sculpture which today was running with water is an ordinary ladder. I feel guilty about leaving Zach for so long and worried I will not finish in time. What was achieved today? The main structure is up.
Lying in bed in this cosy little wooden hut, I feel a bit like an explorer updating my blog. Being Scandinavian summer it is still quite light outside at 10pm and it is perfectly peaceful in this campsite in the woods.
I arrived in Århus at 4pm, miraculously the bus arrived bang on time; for a 4 hour journey that’s not bad! I went straight to the site and was greeted by my sculpture under a billowing tarpaulin but no one else. Soon Axel Arnott, the curator of the exhibition, turned up in a zippy little bug car. Amazing that a year ago we last met in this spot just after my piece was accepted for the exhibition..how time flies. We spent about half an hour pacing out where the sculpture might be placed before tomorrow, then he was off and I set out to find the campsite. It emerged that a bus only runs on weekends so I set off walking. It was a gorgeous walk through the beech woods above the sea and I could smell fish on the air. I kept seeing pegs denoting where sculptures will be, and at one point glimpsed the circular pier which looked great. Now about to get some sleep; the day starts at 8 and I’ll be leaving at 7.20 to walk through the woods.
I’m sitting on the bus waiting to leave Valby Station for Århus. After feeling apprehension bordering on an impulse not to go, I have started feeling the tiniest seed of anticipation, even excitement. It was triggered by the thought that the bus might just go by ferry over to Jutland. I can enjoy the journey before the work starts..
She’s gone…to Aarhus. The very nice freight man turned up early, which was great. He had an enormous truck, he had intended to collect another piece in Copenhagen but couldn’t actually get into the place so had plenty of room on the truck. Lars was a dab hand with the fork lift truck, which looks little but can certainly lift a hefty weight and together the two of them manoeuvred the three pallets with all the sections onto the lorry.
As the lorry moved off I felt quite a surge of emotion, not to mention doubt as to whether it would all arrive intact, but told myself I had to trust the experts. I hope I would have heard by now if it had all ended in disaster. All that was left in the workshop were the marks from my spray gun where I had gone along the lower edges of the panels. With the space empty, the labour seemed a thing of the long distant past. The joyful job of cleaning the floor will await me on Tuesday when I’m back from Aarhus.
I felt emotional tonight as well, at Zach’s bedtime. Feeling guilt about leaving him for so long, I left him overnight once before (which in effect were two days for him because I got back after bedtime on the second day), but this will be four nights and five days. He wanted me to put him to bed, I think he was a little upset by my being upset. I’m glad I did, it helped me feel better.
Tomorrow I leave on the midday bus for Aarhus.
The day before the sculpture is freighted to Aarhus. I borrowed Charlotte’s car again and went over to Roskilde for the first time since finishing work last Tuesday. I knew that Lars and Mikkel were planning to prep the panels to load onto the truck tomorrow, starting early. On the way I received a text that the workshop was now empty and ready to be cleaned, meaning that they had already taken the different sections right out of the workshop where it had been built (that was temporarily rented for the job). I hadn’t been expecting that but it means that I can go over again tomorrow and while waiting for the truck to come (hopefully around noon), can tidy up the space so I don’t have to go back again. I won’t have much to do when the sculpture is loaded; physically it’s too heavy for me so I’ll just be standing by chewing my fingernails, but I want to be there to see it.
The next week will be full on; on Thursday I travel to Aarhus and will have a site meeting in the afternoon when I arrive. Lars and Mikkel come early on Friday and we will be installing all weekend. My ticket back to Copenhagen is booked for Monday evening, and the opening begins on Thursday. A brief look at the weather forecast today threw me into gloom, rain is forecast, some heavy, for most of the weekend. That could make things rather complicated and I am thinking to email Niels, the site manager and remind him that some kind of scaffold and temporary cover may be needed in order to finish the paintwork if it does rain: better to be prepared.
I have had a few days off, which has been very important and gave me a chance to unwind a bit. On Thursday I made a flying visit to Louisiana and zipped round three major exhibitions and a couple of smaller ones: the Doig, Jeff Wall and Richard Mosse were all worth seeing. Having seen the Peter Doig exhibition in London in 2008 it was interesting to see that this one felt quite different. There were very old paintings, such as Young Bean Farmer (owned by Victoria Miro) and Concrete Cabin II, which were familiar but good to see again. Also the stunning Okahumkee (Some other People’s Blues) which evoked Heart of Darkness instantly for me, which I had not previously seen and House of Pictures (2000-2002) probably the most fascinating compositionally, because I just couldn’t determine where or what the space depicted was, inside or outside, in a train line or even a gallery perhaps. I need to read about that painting at a more relaxed time. I also very much enjoyed a passageway linking the two main sections of the show, full of prints, most of them working prints and many of them imperfect, splattered with ink or whatever, that really showed the evolution of many of the paintings. The use of a print room as part of the development of paintings was very much emphasised at City and Guilds of London Art School where I studied and it really was on display here.
I was also glad to see Jeff Wall; obviously a huge name and someone whose work I didn’t know much about. I don’t know why but I had preconceptions that he might be a bit cold, I had somehow lumped him together (confused him more like) with Jeff Koons in my mind. I was therefore interested to see that his work was actually all about people; the modest working black man in his humble yet enticing bedsit (no doubt not genuine but somehow fulfilling a fantasy of a perfect little den) – After ‘Invisible Man’ by Ralph Ellison, The Prologue 1999-2000, the Sto:lo nation people keenly observing as one of their villages is excavated by archaeologists, the cleaner at work in the Mies van der Rohe Foundation in Barcelona, not to mention the down and outs documented in his black and white photographs, where the shabbiness and in the end marginalisation of the people seemed echoed in the way they were barely noticeable sometimes in the tonal balance of the works. It was the Mies van der Rohe image that I found most interesting compositionally; the way a steel beam in the room being photographed seemed to jump out onto the surface of the image, making a visual point about the surface of the picture as a window through which we gaze, and therefore echoing the subject of the image, who is cleaning windows; clever that….