Tuesday, May 8, 2007


You can judge a society, by how it trieds its prisonners

I have by now realized that i am here, inside Flatland. I think i have been waiting somehow "to get started". I had imagined that i would produce something while i was here. Something i could point at and define. But today i have realized that i might be too much "in it" right now to produce anything – instead i can imagine that it is when i leave Flatland, that would have to set time off to analyze and channel thoughts/writtings/output.

The restlessness has hit me. It is tickling my muscles, even though i’m lying silently on my back; with the feeling of that i can’t do much else than lie here.
I’m used to moving around a lot. Not really training or physical work, but i’m used to moving around a lot between different place and different spaces.

Now i’ve been here for eight days, and suddenly i feel my mind is slowly falling apart. I think of an interview i did with Kate, a girl who was sitting in prison for seven years. Her cell looked a little bit like a library. She used to escape in those books. Now and then she closed her door to lock out the prison, and all it’s crap. But it demands a certain level of energy or strength, she said – to take yourself seriously, to take care of yourself, to be able to feel how you are doing.

Here it is absolutely different. I’m not surrounded with fucked up prisoners, whose freedom has been forcibly taken, and confined to a cell. I have chosen this myself, and i have chosen it with five others, who have also chosen this themselves. But maybe it makes it even more difficult to isolate ones-self. A kind of social space has taken up a lot of space, though it has definitely changed over the days. In the beginning, it was exciting to get to know each other, where now it seems like we have less and less to talk about - or are less able to talk!

I realize that our freedom is limited (that we are stuck here), but what is just as challenging is the amount of the space we are stuck in, and which we have to share. There are no places to go to be alone... at least, for me and doug, because we are living together, in the same spaces – i think that maybe Alex, Maria, and Pelle are feeling differently, because their spaces are placed lower in the construction, less central. Anyway the amount of space, makes the presence of the others, their sound, their smells and even their moods inevitable.

Somehow Flatland is a mini parallel society, with its own systems, structures and logic. Literally you can register everything that comes in and goes out – we have three contacts with the outside world/spaceland, one is called NetFlix, the second is called FreshDirect and the third is called Anni (she is the nicest). Our trash-bags, which count around 2 a day, are dropped on the gallery floor and they disappear.
As Maria describes in her blog, also the rhythm of the day slowly have made a pattern, for when it is work/focused time (though it is tuff), when it is off-time, time to be social, eat, and so on. Also a structure of communication and responsibility develops extremely fast.

The more abstract input and output, as lived experiences and transformations, are harder to define, and which might might remain unclear until we all are out of here.
But in its most concrete terms (for me), this project has become playing with and visualizing time and space as limiting factors - 20 days, 24 inches wide - and of how we are victims of these. In Flatland it is in a different way than in spaceland, maybe even opposite, because we are victims of the fact that time doesn't matter, it is floating together, it doesn't principally change anything. And victims of a physical space which doesn't leave many possibilities for different uses and movements within it. The combination of both circumstances fucks my mind up. But I don’t think that either a freaky control or free spirit approach is an answer to successful living in Flatland – it is literally about inventing new mechanisms of interacting and surviving in one's mind.

How much are we willing and able to deal with and support each other, for the sake of an art project?

Time flies in here. Morning and evening are similar, and merge with yesterday and tomorrow. But my thoughts have a hard time being anywhere else than present in time and related to Flatland. Suddenly, and with a complex twist, it makes me feel stuck, looking for escape. It is difficult to relate to e-mails and news from outside, or to future plans and so on. It reminds you about the world outside, makes you miss it, but even more it reminds you of yourself being inside – and of your limited space.
That is why it is so extremely difficult to concentrate about anything ambitious in here, whether it is related to the outside or inside world of Flatland.

But we are artists, not prisoners - at least we can leave Flatland when we want.


ptomaine said...

You talk about restlessness. About confined space.

I think it is interesting that the word "claustrophobia" has not come up once in any of the blog entries so far.

efa said...

I most admit that "claustrophobia" was on my mind yesterday evening. And as i was laying at the bed at the fourth floor (too) close to doug, I told him so..
But on the other hand i do think i makes a big different that we're not forced to stay here, knowing that we can leave when we want,..i think it it avoids most feelings of claustrophobia in generel.

douglas paulson said...

we have open spaces on each side of the floor, between the floor and the clear vinyl. i covered them up on our 'studio' floor -- it's stuffy here now, and claustrophobia is setting in ....