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July 1, 2012, vol 8, no 2

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Ken Jones


I snap up the blinds
another day
takes me in for questioning

In the mirror, a suspicious character. Off to the art gallery, where I know I can become a reassured somebody once more, so long as I stick to the representational stuff. Wandering through those Dutch domestic interiors or strolling through the lush pastures of Albert Cuyps's placid cows I feel at home again.

Later, refreshed and emboldened, I head for the exit. Only to be waylaid by Postmodernism. Sitting on a bench in one of its empty rooms I watch a video – a random succession of stills with voice over, deconstructing my precarious reality.

A wilderness so featureless
that nowhere exists
except on the map

The nearest thing to a map is the exhibition catalogue:

Hello. It's as hard to say anything that is as good as saying nothing. So I made some things … Let's call them videos. … Little happens. Little that I could describe, anyway. If I did describe them it would probably be irrelevant to anything you want to know … I don't know where they are going. Things rub together. It's risky. It necessitates making and avoiding choices. They proceed from half-digested notions propped up with contradictory information ...

The spinning compass
and my spinning head
nothing where it ought to be

Staggering out into the sunshine I recall reading somewhere of a similar experience of David Hume, the great philosopher of the Scottish enlightenment. Apparently his solitary cogitations so undermined his belief in his own existence that he had to flee into the next room to take refuge with his friends playing a game of billiards.

Each in our own way
we grip the empty clothes line
we well-worn pegs

Across the street the pool table in the Ship Inn does me a like service of reconstruction.

Joshing with friends
eye on the ball
I chalk my cue

Note: With grateful acknowledgement the catalogue extract above is taken from an exhibition by Heather Phillipson at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre, April-May 2011. A leaflet explains that "she combines influences from cinema, literature and the visual arts with the everyday mundane objects close to hand, undermining systems of meaning and prescribed associations."