Dorota Czerner was born in 1966 in Wrocław, Poland, and completed her studies in Philosophy and Logic at the University of Paris IV, la Sorbonne. She is a writer, published poet, and editor of the Open Space magazine, as well as a collaborator on many projects involving video, music, and mixed media performances. She has spent 15 years in Paris and currently resides in New York. Though most of her recent work has been in English, the artist keeps in close touch with her mother tongue thanks to the translatory practice. She is currently working on a novel entitled “a place of dunes” which is an experimental prose interweaving the Polish and English languages.
NOTES of myself and others in between myselves
“cerebral cortex cork rind of our tree”(Robert Kelly)
“and after the night spent in this new house he walked to look out, at the horizon, and the intensity of the scene, ( something the premonition of which has persisted, rhythmically throbbing in the dark, keeping the mind alert, sleepless), this bold chain of Sudetes, amethyst in the first morning light, has dented a sudden crevasse in his heart, and the Grandfather died” ( a woman on the Wrocław-Jelenia Góra train, recalling her family mythology - thank you, Piotr, for telling the story )
the smells the vibrant drizzled mixture of sounds colors seasonal variations in the quality of light, that ambient knowledge of who we are, where we are
mapping images of what can be seen in front of our eyes onto the grid of what the world is supposed to look like, the very precise idea of our inner landscape, received in earliest childhood, or, who knows, perhaps even innate?
“we see out of our eyes but hear into our ears. Is this the way for everyone? Or are there people who feel the photons streaming into their pupils? I think this fact means that the visual tends to separate us from the world, even from our own bodies; while the aural tends to draw us into the physical world..” (Caroline Kraabel)
yes, but only sometimes, only up to a degree. In an equal
part there is a link, a secret thread leading from a bird outside, a bridge, a ship going under..., into the core, the root,
because things are seen with our mind’s eyes, heard with the mind’s ears. We seek a dialogue with the visible world as a means of creating meaning, as an attempt to place ourselves in relation to external reality through the received image, its color and contour.
or rather a translucent curtain, some kind of an objectifying filter, placing a distance between the self and the world, the consensual reality often differing from the shape we want it to bear, causing convulsive nostalgia and grief, but also moments of the great awaking admiration
between the sun and the eyes, arabesques of the unknown
and that by itself offering both the bliss and a potential source of depraved loss of identity, now shriveled down to that seed---- interred inside but perhaps useless
an anguish or enchantment, sorrow or attraction, alienation or a grasp of the new sensuous realm,
irony nearing cruelty and farewells of sanity
Kiedy w obozach dalekiej północy
W szkło zastygały trupy stu narodów
On pisał odę do Matki-Syberii.
Jeden z piękniejszych, tak jest, polskich wierszy.....” (Czesław Miłosz, Traktat Poetycki, Treatise on Poetry)
( And in such time when in the far north camps
Corpses of a hundred nations were turning to glass
He was composing Ode to Mother-Siberia,
One of most beautiful, it’s true, Polish verses...)
bitterness OR innocence
or most likely BOTH, manifesting in turn and turn about, depending how often and with what individual persistence the root awareness of inadequacy of one’s own internal mold in relation to the landscapes here, the country here, the shape of buildings, oval of the faces, is being invoked, the innate willingness or reluctance to accept the gap
“the lilies of the valley- konwalie- there came to our knees”, “there” in Boryslavian forests... (Grandmother, every month of May )
then another generation, born with the gap engraved onto the retina, after they moved West, after they entered the villa on ulica Witelona and sat down to a table, looking each other in the eye across the extraordinary despair of a white cloth, laid with silverware and Dresden china, someone’s hand holding the salt, like their own, the owned now, salt with all that’s beside, their Sundays, meant for the union in us the family in a German house
but Grandma’s konwalie obediently disintegrated shapes of my imagination to make them happen somewhere else for real, construing other versions of what is, brighter, more desirable, a garden growing better far away, green-thumb of the distancing against the blurredness found in the material quality of the present flowers, or even the sound of their name
dislodged sound - mind
“All poets are ronin (“wave people”)
liuwang, “wandering in escape”
we’ve lost our master
and are glad-
we’re trailing our leashes,
our leashes track what we’ve escaped.
We despise exile
or, there is no poetry
without severing of
master accord” (Clayton Eshleman, Notes on Exile and Paradise)
(December 2004) - a cold night in Poznan, exhausted after an hour and a half with the performance: mixing media, mixing English and Polish words, inventing languages, ways of speaking, of opening the words, unwrapping them from their glossy envelopes of meaning, sending the sounds out into other minds, and now exhausted, shivering in the cold of the Gallery “U Jezuitów”, the stage lights off. Waiting for others to come, to join me, us, for dinner, wine, I’ll have to have a drink tonight, but no, they do not hurry. - “You speak as though…” I listen to a young student tell his dream story how he envies me, how he too wants to live in New York, or simply abroad, to transcend the dualities of the cultures, to come and go. “you can leave at anytime and come back again, and everything will always be fine for you, because you speak so many languages”. what is it like?
to come and go, what is it like?
to find me in another place, another me?- to come and go? or perhaps, to leave- and come back?
(oh, but you know that to leave “back then” meant no back-coming, that only the going was what mattered, like a hijacked plane landing at Tempelhof, an itinerary learning through the excess of its one-directionality -the hydrangea, in bloom, going to be blue now, hydrangea in two halves: pink in our old garden, or with the blueness ahead of itself binding other me to the future ----
the layers of estrangement
a sea with tides, the sea and the mountains brought together,
a line that one had to cross inwardly, even if only metaphorically, was nonetheless a tool that was writing one along its course, drawing one in, creating the dimensions of return which from thereon impossible to fathom.)
so do I tell him, dare I say how I envy them for their now- newfound coming and going, for at anytime, the internet-beings spun out of the web of distance and closeness burnished with iterated familiarity of any time any place, is this it? this this lack of specificity? trying to tell while I’m still undrunk...----- or do I not, in fact, envy?
still-shots of my doubts,
“Moja wierna mowo.....” (“o, my faithful tongue...”, Miłosz)
did I not, in fact, honor you? did not put out my offerings night after night (the way he did...), or put them before too many gods at once, scattered my bowls of color and light, so that your own birch and robin kept on burgeoning in the growing of my worlds, mirroring each other in all the manifested realms, I did not have an umbilical need to preserve the intactness of the vision, but lived more by the remaining potential of the image of the place to which, I thought, I may never be able to return?
instead the inner glowing of my space
I made a space for us, me & another me, a space inside my skull, kept it clear and tangible,
not just anytime, but all the time, and I wake like that day after day, one precious space folded around another, carefully protecting its articulations of absences and discoveries,
its sonorous madness I can hear singing under my breath, distances between the two surfaces,
I can hear my head made of wood
I can hear my head made of metal and leather
I can hear my head made of languages
my mind put inside a resonance cage, radiating, echoing,
memory of, or a shape of whatever guessed for, inseparably bound together
speaking of the things unknown that bring out patterns in my work,
the helicline growth of lost and found in the irreplaceable tropism of lilies of the valley, to hear through, all the way through
“...what all we have in common as willingness to make out of time, and what can’t be made up for, no matter what out of or out in limits to go and see sacred places on the table with the scrambled eggs and hashbrowns, between and on --- then we stopped and waited for a signal to come on, we heard return in us...” (Ken Irby)
Saugerties, NY, January 2005