Petrolia

I feel like by 2013 we intuitively understand the relationship between eros and consumer desire. We’re primarily flirting via facebook stickers. We’ll probably never consummate. Love is both infinite and intimate, hopefully; desire a force for politics and regeneration and life. It is exactly these forces that are colonised by consumer society. Even if our love for each other is perfect, we still have to recognise the multiple and disorienting things that are imbricated within it. Desire is impossible to conceive of outside of possession, ownership, property, normativity. We try to tell each other, maybe.

Pier Paolo Pasolini, in his posthumously published novel Petrolio (which is really just a collection of fragments and notes, described as a “preamble” to a novel by the author before his untimely murder in 1975), presents a formative articulation of what commentator Walter Siti has termed a “structural similarity” between infinite and all-consuming eros (intimate or romantic love, or just love) and his hated consumer society. Pasolini’s early poetry was published in Friulian, a Romance dialect belonging to the Phaeto-Romance family, spoken in the Friui region of northeast Italy. This was an attempt by the poet to return to the structural roots of societal organisation, and to place here poetry as the seeds of social change. This was a historical materialism, the material of which was the labourer’s dirt. Pasolini’s solution to the aforementioned double-bind of desire and capital was to attempt to separate the two by idealising a cultural tradition that identified beauty with non-corruption and the natural. The “novel” jumps between the characters of Carlo 1 and Carlo 2, later called Carlo and Karl, and by the end of the novel not differentiated at all. Between them they have sex with a host of subjugated characters - mothers, female servants, prostitutes, young working class boys. In this dirt was supposed to be purity. He was run over several times by his own car, driven by a seventeen years old male hooker, apparently.

To believe that infinite love might offer a space outside of the infinite reproduction of capital is naive when the two sleep right next to each other. Let alone to believe that it’s infinite. It’s nothing really like real life, but maybe that’s what makes it powerful.

It’s summer right now. Ice cream at the moment melts. Upside down on the floor you can imagine it trickling outwards. Its sugars crystal in the sunlight. Together we sweat. Puddles.

Our ice cream has two figures standing in it, holding hands. We eat around them, their feet get basically sticky. When we’re done we throw them out. We keep the decorated tissues to wipe each other. The figures walk away, somewhere else. When we leave we’re holding hands.

The figures write poetry.

wanna be in love more beautiful and yes
acab doesn’t even begin to intuit what i’d do
would have done anything for that love and then it no longer existed

There’s nothing more patronising than love, think the figures. The figures feel it sometimes, pulsing through their veins when they’re assured. There’s nothing more enabling than love, think figures.

 

solidarity is romance for the assured

 

Flowers follow the wall around. Outside the flowers is a public action. The flowers wave to each other in the wind. The flowers look amazing and fragile and know it. The figures capture them. Sometimes the figures prefer each other. Sometimes they’re simply waiting.

 

winter was dark
i fell headfirst into a communist love affair
how can you regret a thing that never happened in your own heart?
i mean, we all have certain ideas of what poetry is
We have each other's names on our hearts.

 

The figures write poetry to each other, the world hears. The world dislikes the figures. Their poetry is fucking rubbish. But what does that matter when you’re that in love? All poetry is love poetry, and all love poetry is selfish, redundant. Why write but to make up that you’re in love.

 

i miss you by denture of being you
want to replace all my hairs with yours
strength is high resolution and love
zoom in. zoom out. Forests and trees and such.

 

All writing is the shaping of the ego. All love is the breaking of that. Puddles gain meaning by where you place them. The figures send pictures to each other constantly. All I am is devotion, think figures. I’ll do everything with you; confession. Imagine if these puddles were tears for us.

String falls between the figures, conjoining them. The world hurts, think the figures. We’re the world now, think figures. There’s no one else in the world but these figures. I’ve decided now, all I am is you.

 

i’ve got nowhere left to put my despair
i’ll keep it safe for you
everyone else are enemies (the authority require the confession
whole):
I love you inasmuch as you let me.

 

Mythic, beautiful maybe, unburdened. We walk away now, holding hands.

Poetry works through disjunctions, assemblages, the spaces between things. The poem isn’t the single sculpture (the puddle), but the installation. In the first volume of their journal, LIES collective suggest that “this channelling and organisation of sex and amorous relations” is best referred to “as the logic of the couple — that which funnels, simplifies, and reduces amorous desire to the needs of patriarchy within the capitalist mode of production.” To change this channelling and organisation of sex and eros means to change the mode of production, not just transgress or escape it.

Andrea Fraser, in two well received essays published last year (2012), makes the point that the art market isn't only reliant on unequal wealth distribution, but actively exacerbates it: “art prices do not go up as a society as a whole becomes wealthier, but only when income inequality increases.” However, to simply reveal this as truth is not to challenge its position within the relations that produce it. The art world is obviously dependent on oligarchy. Marlie’s puddles are like holes in discourse through which the materiality of this seeps (like how stars are just holes in the sky). They are dirtily material, their inner cores glistening like otters in the sun, their edges sanded and ridged to stop themselves seeping away. Since 1991, Richard Wilson’s 20:50 has been the only work on permanent display at the Saatchi Gallery, following the gallery from location to location. It has sat in all of their basements, conceptually as stagnant as the oil that has transported it to ever increasing venues. Marlie’s puddles don’t simply manifest oil as oil, they manifest poetry as oil, and within oil, as well as away from it too. A political poetry, following LIES, might exist to critique the structure that creates it. The materiality of the puddles is not the oil they’re made of, but the play of discursive and material relations that makes this oil. Marlie’s puddles reintegrate across the totality of this. They materialise poetry back within the infrastructure it critiques: the material-discursive apparatus of power.

Poetry is the prospect of change, I think; the breaking of strict language. I wonder about poetry when you can live in it.

 

 

— Harry Burke, 2013


This text was written for an untitled publication that came out in October 2013, bringing together various texts relating to puddle works produced throughout 2013. The publication is hand silk screen printed with black glossy ink, sand and silver dust and designed in collaboration with Vela Arbutina. Small edition. Texts by D.N, HARRY BURKE, JOHN BEESON, KARI RITTENBACH, MARLIE MUL, PABLO LARIOS.