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Magazine

19 April 2021
This month's topic: Make visibleResident Editor: David Bestué
red, Quechua, poplar; unbearable

The colors are always the same. The mud’s reddish-brown, as if it were brick, but the old kind, crumbled; the green of the pine trees. You cannot see the dark brown of the trunks, everything is pine green, not like the dark green of Norwegian forests, pale and overexposed. And the mud reddish color, like the shepherd’s skin.

Everything is related to red, either the opposite of or similar to. Putus Mossos, gossos in red graffiti. A poppy that will be uprooted by its immediate death, red. The hate hidden behind the déu, bonfire-red. The graffities could be of any color, or the mud, the shepherd’s skin, because the déu has already stained everything red.

The reddish tone is a pigment that mixes with the rest of the landscape and makes it so no color is pungent or precise. It is not a shadow-red, but a tone added to the palette. Everything is slightly blood-colored and, when it seeps out, when it lies on a surface, it rusts, and this stain remains on the landscape, unmoving. Or else everything is a bit rusted-blood red to remind us that everything has the ability to be torn apart, that things splatter if you step on them or if you look at them too closely, in the seconds between the déu and a walk amongst graffiti. Putus Mossos, gossos, red graffiti.

A couple walks behind me, about seven meters away, they speak loudly and I, on the same path, can’t get away. I never leave the path and even if I tried, I would end up in a housing estate or on a highway. On another path. I sit on a rock to try to get rid of them, like bees chasing me. I let them pass by. They say déu and I think siao and I look away because they are wearing bright neon sports clothes and the dry, cold light irritates my eyes. They wear plastic, mountain-climbing sunglasses. In front of me, on a rock, there is the graffiti of Putus Mossos, gossos, but for a few seconds their Decathlon running suits block my view. The red does not block their fluorescent clothes because they are too bright. Like acid in the middle of a place that isn´t right for speed or MDMA, nor anything else like that, it’s too vivid for mountain roads. The red they wear inside is the déu they say as they pass by. My eyes adapt to the light again and I look at the graffiti of Putus Mossos, gossos and I look down at the plants next to me. They are dull thistles. I look at them and stop breathing in case my ankle has touched them, and while I hold my breath, I see the whitish green and the quills, which they say is good for urine, grinding them up dry to make tea with them. I breathe again, their déu has left me red, and I continue walking along the muddy road next to the wine fields. Those wearing the Decathlon running outfits head down, cold spots among the pale pines and the faded green.

———-

Walking in places that are not streets is a different kind of walking. It’s not a city, I can’t get lost. I can’t just walk around and decide later where I’m going. If I walk too far, I come across highway borders, forests entrances, private fields or cliffs. There is no sociothermic mix of neighborhoods to kick. There are no labyrinths of historical and semantic layers, accumulated vertically. Upwards by blocks, downwards by subway lines that connect everything. There is a highway and then there are other streets with names of saints.

When I leave town and start walking across the land, I stop. I stop for a moment to look both ways to see if a car is coming on the highway that separates it. I walk on paths, not streets. I cross highways to continue on the paths. The town cannot be walked on and the mountain is a false place, there are colors that make it like that, but the land is not. The land is not, but not because of loss or by lack, but because it is too ordered, it belongs to someone. It is stamped with a “my.” When I lose myself, there’s never a lack. Getting lost is not going through unknown places, but through places that aren’t stamped with a “my.” My forest. My parcel. I never lack a “my.” Walking is my potency, and the road is never obliterated by a “my.

My black sneakers are full of mud and an orange crust around them. My ankle is livid, my pants black. When you go down to the town the ground is gray graphite, streams flow down where you can put your sneakers and see how the color washes away, how the mud escapes with the water. My livid ankles.

The Decathlon running suits are already on the highway that separates the town from the paths. The leaves are still. Déu always end on a high pitch, which shakes the leaves. Déu at first deep like the stones and then high-pitched like the trees. From afar I look all khaki, red. Their Quechua running shoes are clean, but the stream continues to wash mud off of mine. I could slip and fall and kill myself while my sneakers are being washed by this slate stream. Below is a town that does not move. And since it does not move, no one has to spend a lot of time thinking about it, since it doesn’t dedicate any time to the seconds that go by outside its borders. It doesn’t look outside, doesn’t look beyond the little mountain in front, the one with the cross on it. I don’t have to look at it either, because nothing happens, it doesn’t move. I want it to expand and fall into a black hole, and maybe in that way find the light outside, or look for it beyond, beyond the mountains, miles away, uneven thoughts, shattered mirrors that can no longer reflect.

The stream has cleaned the soles of my sneakers but the mud continues floating around it, leaving streaks of reddish mud within the black fabric.

———-

The lime painted red, crusted, the marble of the old sink and the cables that pierce the rock over which the fiber passes. I get dizzy with a pleasurable dizziness, like from a drop in blood pressure and inexperience with cigarettes. I could be in a science fiction movie. It would be just like it, lasers outside, and inside still with the meter-thick walls of rock and the red paint peeling off. The incandescent light bulb hanging from a cable and the small wooden window painted dark brown. Outside, the red T-shirts scream. I have never sat on a toilet to take a piss other than at home or in a friend’s house. I don’t understand how people can do that. I always squat above the seat, with my knees curved just enough so that my pants are held in the fold of my legs and don’t fall onto the disgusting floor. Rage Against the Machine is playing and the red  T-shirts sing over the melody, missing words as they scream the lyrics with rhythms that are only signs. It is a song of symbols. When I flush, the water from the toilet splashes me. The mirror is small and there is not enough light, but still I look at myself, like sometimes I look at myself in things far away that reflect back my image. Everything is painted red, and the white walls makes me stay inside longer, or so it seems. I don’t know why there is always so much hot humidity inside, while outside there is cold humidity on wet floors, as if it had rained. Outside the bathroom, outside the bar, outside the street, outside of here, there is booming technology. A technology that interferes with everything except everyday landscapes. We are Nativity scenes drilled by objects and fibers, and thus we have the newest and the oldest fears, simple but deep ones. The light is yellow and I am glad it’s not fluorescent white.

Rage Against the Machine ends its song just as someone knocks on the door. I bump into a sweaty red T-shirt that smells of beer and men, with a sweaty face from singing so loudly and waving his arms. He comes in and doesn’t close the door. I get out of there before I have to listen to his piss collide with the porcelain toilet. I don’t want to hear that. I don’t want anyone to make me have to listen to it. I put one foot outside the bathroom and people´s arms are outstretched. Arms outstretched and hands holding glasses. I step under the glasses and see how the beer droplets fall on top of their red and black shirts. The red shirts get wet in circles that turn darker as they expand and become garnet. In the black shirts, the black becomes blacker.

I escape from the outstretched arms and make my way to where a fireplace is lit during winter, next to the wooden door that leads to the backyard. I go down the stairs and walk over the pebbles on the floor that make a lot of noise. The English woman is talking with a red T-shirt there. She shows her teeth when she laughs. He doesn’t show them, but he looks at hers. The English woman turns, looks at me, smiles and continues to talk to the guy in the red T-shirt. If I move, they will hear me because the ground is noisy. They will hear me and I will be too present. If I stay still, I won’t make any outward sound but I’ll look like an idiot. I wait three seconds, in case she looks my way, in case she makes a sign to me. I hold my breath but then I think that I should do just the opposite, that if she doesn’t hear me she won’t make a sign to me. I let the air out and take one step, then another, and I’m back inside the bar again.

———-

The English woman is waiting for me outside the bakery. She always manages to find me and always waits for me as if she didn’t find me and I have to look for her. She lifts her eyes and shoulders and smiles at me, showing her teeth. When she spreads her lips, she stays quiet and says nothing.

“Yesterday I stayed until late and then I saw that you had left.” “Yes.” “Did you leave or did you run away?”

She stops spreading her lips and showing her teeth. The English woman is very pretty, and her teeth are white, very lickable. The English woman does not say déu or dress in neon clothes, nor walk through the non-mountains. When we’re alone, she always tells me that she is my friend.

———-

To escape, I take a train, and to return, I take a train, too. If you look at the train from above, it is all curves and straight lines, a metallic rectangle going from one side to the other. It goes one way and then comes back, the coming is one and the going is the same.

The last time I took a train, everyone was half asleep or on their cellphone. There are too many towns with absurd names, stations that are just a couple of meters of concrete and, at the far end, a house and a pine tree. The benches full of teenagers, bundled up in parkas and waiting. All the stations are the same and it’s easy to get confused. The train stays for a long time at each of the stations and people stare at the concrete, the pine trees, the bench, but forget about the signs with the names of the towns. The train goes pi-pi-pi and closes its doors, and men wake up and run and press the button to let them out.

A man ran to get out, but left his backpack inside. The two of us got up and grabbed the backpack and we ran to the door. The door did not open and the man kept knocking from the other side, on the platform. A third person joined our group trying to return the backpack and pressed the lever to stop the train, manually. The door opened, the man with the backpack put his arm in and ripped it out of our hands and went towards the houses and the three badly planted pine trees, without saying a word, not even a thank you. The next station was my stop.

———-

I take a piss and dry myself with a leaf that I first rub on my pants in order to remove the dust. My genitals get dry but also shocked by the material. It is a full, translucent leaf. I can stick my fingernail through it.

Someone has cut branches and collected pine needles and put them all into an industrial, black plastic garbage bag. It shines in the sun next to a container. There are bits of green left lying on the ground and the plastic bag sits absorbing the sun which will eventually melt it. The black plastic sucks in all the sun and dilates and expands and if I were to touch it, it would probably leave melted plastic on my fingers that would harden on my cool hand.

The bag has a hole in it and the pine needles, bright green next to the black of the plastic bag, jut out. The pine trees, the containers under the pine trees, the bags next to the containers. The bags filled with chopped-up pine trees next to the intact pine trees, perhaps recently pruned. The pine needles that fall on top of the plastic bag which, now that the sun is gone, is hard and does not expand, slide across its surface onto the concrete floor next to the wheels of the containers.

———-

These forests are not forests, nor is this a mountain. The shepherd cannot pass through this place because even if there are no fences, the mountain is cut up. From this one, the other. He knows them all, the names of the parcel owners. They´re never there, but one sometimes worries that the branches, that it’s all brown, and the wood on the ground, the fire that could be lit, the pine cones exploding. The parcels are purchased land, property. The function of the parcels was to produce on them; now, to keep them from producing. These forests used to be fields. To never go to the parcel, to own this thing, this piece, this land over there, up there or down here. The parcels bought up in the mountains were orchards, they were weeds, they were land, but never forests or mountains.

———-

The sun goes down and I direct my face towards it so that it warms my skin without burning or blotching it. The red of the afternoon sun leaves my eyeballs orange and my view expands with reflections. It is velvet. When everything is velvet one should become different materials, other surfaces.

———-

Red and black are everywhere. On t-shirts, in the nights. Rage Against the Machine is playing again in the village bar. It smells of beer and its golden color melts into the bar. The guys are all bald men. The women are all young or dressed the same as when they were young. They are only men and women, I am invisible. You have to be already out to go to the bar, you have to like things, like soccer. It smells of beer and of red things. They are the red T-shirts. The town does not move and neither do the red T-shirts. The red T-shirts’ backs curve when they sit on bar stools.

Red and black are everywhere. They leave a trace. The blackened rice creeps into excrement and you have to know that blood must be washed with cold water. The misogyny of the Left is dressed in Quechua with side pockets. Access to the land has been conditioned by sexual behavior. The land changes its gender and only the courtesy of understanding “others” is used but without disturbing universal beliefs. They add a new shelf of differences in the closet, but they never come out, they stay inside with shelves built into the structure.

Between the red of the shepherd skin and that of the red T-shirts there is difference. If I roll my eyes, the shepherd skin vibrates in my memory more than the red T-shirt. If I roll my eyes, the skin increases or decreases, it varies, it hardens, it ages, it becomes redder, burnt. The shirt becomes worn out in my memory.

———–

It is Carme’s main festival.

There are red and black T-shirts and teenage girls with long hair in groups of three or five, arm in arm, elbows interlocked.

Claudia Pagès is an artist and publishes and circulates texts through performances, sonic lectures, books and instalations.

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