Over the coming weeks, we'll be bringing you a series of 'digital postcards' from a variety of creatives who have, like the rest of us, been staying put and filling their days and nights as purposefully as they might, in these most curious of times.
Today, award-winning author Sinead Gleeson offers some thoughts...
For one year, from September 1978 to September 1979, Taiwanese artist Tehching Hsieh locked himself in a wooden cage. It measured 11.5 x 9 x 8 feet and contained only a sink, a bucket, a single bed and lights. While living in the cage, Hsieh did not write, speak, read, listen to music or watch television. A lawyer oversaw the project, bringing him food, removing waste and taking a daily photo to document the project. Art does not seek comfort, or answers. It has a broad spectrum of purpose, subjectively delineated by the artist or audience. During the current pandemic, I think regularly of Hsieh's confinement and his attempts to record the passage of time; challenging what constitutes passivity in art and human experience.
With time, there is always too little of it. A constantly tipped scale. Now there is a surfeit, but not the idealised kind of time we crave. I begin to dream of clocks, an army of ticks tapping in my head at night.
A bird hit the window yesterday; a soft, violent thump. No hint of beak, just the sound of plumage, of feathers splayed. Then another one today. Perhaps this is just what happens when I’m home more, or starting to pay attention to these things. Or that birds have also lost their way, attuned to all the uncertainty. Maybe another bird dared him to do it, just for a laugh.
People are talking about how birdsong is louder these days. But it was always there, drowned out by the diesel belch of buses, the Greek chorus of schoolyard kids. A kind of sonic pointillism.
All week, Venus has hovered over the house, looking brighter than it ever has. At night, 10pm feels like 4am, and you remember the walks home from parties when you felt in cahoots with the city. You long for a packed pub, peering through the triangle gap of shoulders at a gig, dancing, a group dinner, the smell of someone else’s skin.
Where do you miss most? The looped walk under the green shoulder of Ben Bulben, the steep gradient up to the Hell Fire Club and the view over Dublin, the final bend in to the road to your parents’ house. The sea, the sea.
Every few days, I talk to a friend in New York, our calls sound-tracked by the wail of sirens. She has rarely been outside and really feeling the loss of touch, of another person, of desire. Perhaps there are others out there, wishing they’d made their move, pressed the object of their desire against a wall and kissed them until lips were raw, their breath heavy?
The hills will still be out there. So will the blue foam of the coast, the concussed birds, the art - lonely as hell in galleries – the people you long to see. They’re waiting, marking time in their own way, willing it onwards.