artist circle

Happy birthday, my favourite artist!

When we were last in my country of origin, which is Slovenia, we visited an amazing artist who celebrates today.

She loves our bestia and this is a sculpture she made of him.

So far, she has been keeping a low profile but it is only a matter of time when the secret is out and she becomes a household name.

Take this frank portrait of her poet father, for example.

And here she is, hiding behind her muse.

The fact that she is only 9 today, should play absolutely no role. I mean, look at those snouts, and ears!

Happy birthday, dear E., and take over the world in your own sweet time.

Photo: a © signature mmm production

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MM 3-1: Monochrome Madness

This is the first week of another year of Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness photo challenge, and my contribution doesn’t exist any more.

At least not on this location. This is a pair of sculptures “She-He” by sculptor Jakov Brdar that used to stand on the wall of Piran’s pier. This photo was taken at the start of last year. When I was this January again in Piran, this Slovenian coastal town, I was looking for them in vain.

I heard about the protests but I didn’t think they would win. Unless the temporary nature of this project was a given throughout.

Here is the same photo as it was taken.

Photo: a © signature mmm production

For Leanne Cole’s MM 3-1: Monochrome Madness

Thursday Doors, April 7

Many visits to Il giardino dei tarocchi (Tarot Garden by Niki de Saint Phalle) had to pass before I realised that there too were doors. Some are just more hidden than others.

Some are just like an aperture on the female body.

Some are hidden more than others, such as the shaft below, and still stylish.

Sometimes there are merely holes.

Some mark off the territory that is not allowed to roam.

Some mean the end of the road.

And some hide in Niki’s living room.

Photo: a © signature mmm production

For Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors challenge.

Ikigai

This is something that has been troubling me my whole life. I know, I’m a bit old to not have it sorted out yet. Ah, well.

I’ve come across this neat little scheme a while ago. It struck an instant chord.

In my profile it says that I’m “living in order to learn to earn”. I realise what a luxury this is, most people are pushed into a direction, not necessarily ideal, by circumstances, early in life. But each day I am closer to the centre. Ikigai! Sounds like a war cry.

Let’s see what all I have tried so far:

Natural habitat and pose.

Yes, I excel at this too.

Smoke and coffee (even without a boat)? Tried it. Liked it for 20 years. Don’t like it any more.

Well, yes, but the system can do that alone just fine.

Well… not closing any doors.

No, no, this is mom’s thing. (She made these during her last visit out of the blue!)

No, really no, believe me.

This is more like it…

…while he told me to do it so long ago. And I don’t mean drinking.

But they don’t let me forget my natural calling here. I’ve come to the right country. Etruscans – my spirit animals.

Be as it may, the sanest meaning of life that I’ve heard recently comes paraphrased via C. G. Jung:

Our job in life is to become the person we are when we die.

Photo: a © signature mmm production

WPC: Sexing the Cherry, no half light about it

What follows are three out of twelve dancing princesses telling their stories about what happened after they married three of 12 princes, from the book “Sexing the Cherry” by Jeanette Winterson. They are one of the reasons why this book is my favourite.

***

We all slept in the same room, my sisters and I, and that room was narrower than a new river and longer than the beard of the prophet.

So you see exactly the kind of quarters we had.

We slept in white beds with white sheets and the moon shone through the window and made white shadows on the floor.

From this room, every night, we flew to a silver city where no one ate or drank. The occupation of the people was to dance. We wore out our dresses and slippers dancing, but because we were always sound asleep when our father came to wake us in the morning it was impossible to fathom where we had been or how.

You know that eventually a clever prince caught us flying through the window. We had given him a sleeping draught but he only pretended to drink it. He had eleven brothers and we were all given in marriage, one to each brother, and as it says lived happily ever after. We did, but not with our husbands.

I have always enjoyed swimming, and it was in deep waters one day that I came to a coral cave and saw a mermaid combing her hair. I fell in love with her at once, and after a few months of illicit meetings, my husband complaining all the time that I stank of fish, I ran away and began housekeeping with her in perfect salty bliss.

For some years I did not hear from my sisters, and then, by a strange eventuality, I discovered that we had all, in one way or another, parted from the glorious princes and were living scattered, according to our tastes.

We bought this house and we share it. You will find my sisters as you walk about. As you can see, I live in the well.

“We bought this house and we share it. You will find my sisters as you walk about.” Roma.

***

You may have heard of Rapunzel.

Against the wishes of her family, who can best be described by their passion for collecting miniature dolls, she went to live in a tower with an older woman.

Her family were so incensed by her refusal to marry the prince next door that they vilified the couple, calling one a witch and the other a little girl. Not content with names, they ceaselessly tried to break into the tower, so much so that the happy pair had to seal up any entrance that was not on a level with the sky. The lover got in by climbing up Rapunzel’s hair, and Rapunzel got in by nailing a wig to the floor and shinning up the tresses flung out of the window. Both of them could have used a ladder, but they were in love.

One day the prince, who had always liked to borrow his mother’s frocks, dressed up as Rapunzel’s lover and dragged himself into the tower. Once inside he tied her up and waited for the wicked witch to arrive. The moment she leaped through the window, bringing their dinner for the evening, the prince hit her over the head and threw her out again. Then he carried Rapunzel down the rope he had brought with him and forced her to watch while he blinded her broken lover in a field of thorns.

After that they lived happily every after, of course.

As for me, my body healed, though my eyes never did, and eventually I was found by my sisters, who had come in their various ways to live on this estate.

My own husband?

Oh well, the first time I kissed him he turned into a frog.

There he is, just by your foot. His name’s Anton.

“Oh well, the first time I kissed him he turned into a frog.” Il giardino dei tarocchi, Niki de Saint Phalle.

***

When my husband had an affair with someone else I watched his eyes glaze over when we ate dinner together and I heard him singing to himself without me, and when he tended the garden it was not for me.

He was courteous and polite; he enjoyed being at home, but in the fantasy of his home I was not the one who sat opposite him and laughed at his jokes. He didn’t want to change anything; he liked his life. The only thing he wanted to change was me.

It would have been better if he had hated me, or if he had abused me, or if he had packed his new suitcases and left.

As it was he continued to put his arm round me and talk about building a new wall to replace the rotten fence that divided our garden from his vegetable patch. I knew he would never leave our house. He had worked for it.

Day by day I felt myself disappearing. For my husband I was no longer a reality, I was one of the things around him. I was the fence which needed to be replaced. I watched myself in the mirror and saw that I was no longer vivid and exciting. I was worn and grey like an old sweater you can’t throw out but won’t put on.

He admitted he was in love with her, but he said he loved me.

Translated, that means, I want everything. Translated, that means, I don’t want to hurt you yet. Translated, that means, I don’t know what to do, give me time.

Why, why should I give you time? What time are you giving me? I am in a cell waiting to be called for execution.

I loved him and I was in love with him. I didn’t use language to make a war-zone of my heart.

‘You’re so simple and good,’ he said, brushing the hair from my face.

He meant, Your emotions are not complex like mine. My dilemma is poetic.

But there was no dilemma. He no longer wanted me, but he wanted our life

Eventually, when he had been away with her for a few days and returned restless and conciliatory, I decided not to wait in my cell any longer. I went to where he was sleeping in another room and I asked him to leave. Very patiently he asked me to remember that the house was his home, that he couldn’t be expected to make himself homeless because he was in love.

‘Medea did,’ I said, ‘and Romeo and Juliet and Cressida, and Ruth in the Bible.’

He asked me to shut up. He wasn’t a hero.

‘Then why should I be a heroine?’

He didn’t answer, he plucked at the blanket.

I considered my choices.

I could stay and be unhappy and humiliated.

I could leave and be unhappy and dignified.

I could beg him to touch me again.

I could live in hope and die of bitterness.

I took some things and left. It wasn’t easy, it was my home too.

I hear he’s replaced the back fence.

“I was the fence which needed to be replaced.”

***

Photo: a © signature mmm production

Related: My open letter to Jeanette Winterson

I have never thought to add my photographs to a literary work. I’m glad I did it now for Jeanette and:

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: Half-Light

SL-WEEK 36: Women of Niki’s Tarot Garden

Today I bring you the unmistakable femininity of Niki de Saint Phalle’s statues from her Tarot Garden, Il giardino dei tarocchi, which I by some strange strike of luck have in my immediate vicinity. Since Sylvain said Women. Do I hear like attracts like?

The Garden is free every first Saturday in the months from November to March and I do my best to visit each time. Sometimes with an extra Devil. Whereas Ninja still has to be made into a tarot card. What can I say… it’s refreshing. I especially recommend the visit to any female who has ever struck her hip bones wishing they would just disappear, or wiggle her sedere in frustration because it ain’t going anywhere. This is our place of worship. Thank you, Niki!

More information on the statues in the captions. Here is an interesting paper on Niki and the Garden that I have just found.

Photo: a © signature mmm production

For Sylvain Landry’s SL-WEEK 36: Women

Soul with the capital

Today celebrates mom’s cousin, our Soul with the capital S. She paints, designs jewellery, sows and learns Italian, to name but a few.

When she last visited us (pridi cai is still standing!) she brought me a very special gift (well, not only that, there was also her painting!): a fifty-year-old book titled “Nuova poesia Jugoslava” (“New Yugoslav Poetry”) with poems of ex-Yugoslav, that is to say Slovenian, Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian, and Macedonian poets, in original and Italian language side by side.

She already requested one poem from there to use in her Italian class, and here is another by Slovenian poet Kajetan Kovič, in English (found online) and Italian (from the book). I loved this poem growing up and had it in my scrap book which has since been replaced with this blog. I dedicate it to her cleaning robot. 😀

Robots, by Kajetan Kovič
Translation by Veno Taufer & Michael Scammel

Robots are on the march.
The first robot is rectangular.
The stone in his hand
is a cube.
And a cube is a cube from time immemorial
and all that is, is a cube.
Robots are on the march.
The second robot is round.
The stone in his hand
is a sphere.
And a sphere is a sphere from time immemorial
And all that is, is a sphere.
Robots are on the march.
The stone in the sky, the stone on earth
has no choice.
Today it is stone, tomorrow a cube.
Today it is stone, tomorrow a sphere.
Today it is stone, tomorrow a robot.
Robots are on the march.
The cube smashes the sphere.
The sphere kills the cube.
For the cube is a cube forevermore.
For the sphere is a sphere forevermore.
Robots are on the march.
For as long as the cube is rectangular.
For as long as the sphere is round.

I robot
Translated by Giacomo Scotti

I robot marciano.

Il primo è quadrangolare.
Il sasso nella sua mano
è un cubo.
E il cubo è sempre cubo e tutto
quanto esiste è cubo.

I robot marciano.

È sferico il secondo.
Il sasso sulla sua mano
è una sfera.
E la sfera è una sfera sempre e tutto
quanto esiste è sfera.

I robot marciano.

Sasso in cielo, sasso in terra
non ha scelta.
Oggi è sasso, domani è cubo.
Oggi è sasso, domani è sfera.
Oggi è sasso, domani è robot.

I robot marciano.

Il cubo frantuma la sfera.
La sfera uccide il cubo.
Perché in eterno il cubo resta cubo.
Perché in eterno la sfera resta sfera.

I robot marciano.

Finché il cubo sarà quadrangolare.
Finché la sfera sarà sferica.

Here is another text that she can use for her Italian class, the song that is currently everywhere in Italy. Francesca Michielin ended up second in San Remo and will represent Italy at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Indeed, there is no degree of separation.

Francesca Michielin: Nessun grado di separazione

È la prima volta che mi capita
Prima mi chiudevo in una scatola
Sempre un po’ distante dalle cose della vita
Perché così profondamente non l’avevo mai sentita
E poi ho sentito un’emozione accendersi veloce
E farsi strada nel mio petto senza spegnere la voce
E non sentire più tensione solo vita dentro di me

Nessun grado di separazione
Nessun tipo di esitazione
Non c’è più nessuna divisione tra di noi
Siamo una sola direzione in questo universo
Che si muove
Non c’è nessun grado di separazione

Davo meno spazio al cuore e più alla mente
Sempre un passo indietro
E l’anima in allerta
E guardavo il mondo da una porta
Mai completamente aperta
E non da vicino

E no non c’è alcuna esitazione
Finalmente dentro di me
Nessun grado di separazione
Nessun tipo di esitazione
Non c’è più nessuna divisione tra di noi
Siamo una sola direzione in questo universo
Che si muove

E poi ho sentito un’emozione accendersi veloce
E farsi strada nel mio petto senza spegnere la voce

And here, let me give Soul back a little present that she made for me and I have it right here at all times. (It’s NOT limoncello!)

Tanti auguri e cin cin!

Photo: MM + VS (the tree)
Featured photo: newlyweds (well, almost) in Capalbio

Hey you, dragging the halo-
how about a holiday in the islands of grief?

Tongue is the word I wish to have with you.
Your eyes are so blue they leak.

Your legs are longer than a prisoner’s
last night on death row.
I’m filthier than the coal miner’s bathtub
and nastier than the breath of Charles Bukowski.

You’re a dirty little windshield.

I’m standing behind you on the subway,
hard as calculus. My breath
be sticking to your neck like graffiti.

I’m sitting opposite you in the bar,
waiting for you to uncross your boundaries.

I want to rip off your logic
and make passionate sense to you.

I want to ride in the swing of your hips.

My fingers will dig in you like quotation marks,
blazing your limbs into parts of speech.

But with me for a lover, you won’t need
catastrophes. What attracted me in the first place
will ultimately make me resent you.

I’ll start telling you lies,
and my lies will sparkle,
become the bad stars you chart your life by.

I’ll stare at other women so blatantly
you’ll hear my eyes peeling,

because sex with you is like Great Britain:
cold, groggy, and a little uptight.

Your bed is a big, soft calculator
where my problems multiply.

Your brain is a garage
I park my bullshit in, for free.

You’re not really my new girlfriend,
just another flop sequel of the first one,
who was based on the true story of my mother.

You’re so ugly I forgot how to spell.

I’ll cheat on you like a ninth grade math test,
break your heart just for the sound it makes.

You’re the ‘this’ we need to put an end to.
The more you apologize, the less I forgive you.

So how about it?

Jeffrey McDaniel, The Jerk

La morte, Il giardino dei tarocchi, Niki de Saint Phalle.
Photo: a © signature mmm production

MM 2-44: Monochrome Madness Moon

La luna is one of the statues in the Tarot Garden, Il giardino dei tarocchi in the south of Tuscany, the home and artwork by French artist Niki de Saint Phalle.

Above is my contribution to this week’s Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness 2-44, and below is first the same image in colour and then some other images of La luna taken during my many visits to the Garden. If you wish to go there with me, just follow the Il giardino dei tarocchi tag (well, for now).

Photo: MM

Good luck knocking

I buy my gifts as if the whole world was available; I just have to look where my hand is about to reach.

Then I know for whom it is too.

So when it is a heart-shaped mirror, it must be sis.

But she is spending her Christmas and months around it in Peru.

After a consultation with my father I leave it gift-wrapped on top of her mail pile that is waiting for her at our parents’ house.

A few days before she is bound to return to this hemisphere for now, mom writes: “What is this heart-shaped mirror that I found on the shelf?”

“Wrap it back, mom. Not for you! Don’t you and dad ever talk?” Dad feigns ignorance and low recollection powers, he must have been on computer.

When sis returns, she must have opened it because she writes, with a heart:

“Oh, just to inform you that as I was packing to return, my old little mirror broke.”

“Sorry about that, had to do it,” I reply.

While in reality it was good luck knocking. I had merely known it would.

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈

And these are some other, Niki’s hearts from my yesterday’s visit to Il giardino dei tarocchi. Next time we go together.

Photo: MM

Piran play-offs

First there were a collection of heart stones and a pile of bricks. But there was an artist in waiting.

Now the artist (which is mom) has joined them into the Piranske končnice project. Just as the pieces themselves, the name artfully combines the town of Piran, where they were made, and panjske končnice, traditional Slovenian painted beehive panels. As it happens, “končnica” can also mean “play-off”.

When I lifted one of them, another characteristic appeared: what I thought were masterfully arranged and glued olives trickled down to the floor, and I thought I broke something. But mom just smiled: her art is alive. Nothing is fixed. Everything is possible. One just has to let it simmer and percolate. Kind of like me and my words.

You come to the garden

and turn right

go around the well

and there they are

nothing is fixed yet

but the top left one is mine, and feet too

whereas Bestia is still choosing.

Artist: Meta Maksimovič
Photo: MM

WPC: Circling around

Photo: MM

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: Circle

Have a heart challenge

Because Judy collects hearts just like my mother does. Because mom’s cousin arranged them into I ❤ U. Because dad made the bread. Because bestia ❤ bread. Because the last 3-year-old visitor started throwing the stones off the wall before we could inhale. And because we can never have too much heart.




Photo: MM

Judy says it’s a challenge. Give us your hearts.