FRAU MIT VIEL ZEIT

 

By Eva Kenny

 

The sound of Cuban heels clicking distinctly on the pavement one by one as a car passes by. The one cigarette that might be smoked after sex, the one apple a day. Looking busy becomes a way of inhabiting feminism, as one costume amongst others.

 

I’m a newspaper reporter jumping out of somebody's bed, putting my jeans and brown boots on and rushing to the smoke-filled newspaper office where the sound of printing machines creates a roar. My male boss calls me by my Irish-American surname into his office and tells me I’m treading on thin ice. For lunch I meet a married male friend and have French fries and coffee; we are filmed through the window of the restaurant. Although you can see me gesturing and my friend laughing, all you can hear is the sound of the traffic outside on Lex.

 

If you ask me what my idea of a perfect night out is, I’d have to say getting the newspaper, looking up a movie and going out for pizza afterwards. Or if it’s raining, I don’t mind staying inside eating a piece of cheese and reading. It can be nice to get caught in a café in a rainstorm and know you have to spend the rest of the afternoon in there, talking to your date and listening to the distinct sounds of the coffee machine and teaspoons touching the saucers. If it keeps raining, you might have to make a run for it and arrive at the movie theater breathless with drops of water in your hair. I guess what I mean is I don’t find it too hard to focus.

 

In the time it takes to recognize kitsch I could have already taken a shower, gone to the café with my laptop or got a good seat at the library feeling awake. Lunch is a series of rallies to the fridge and handfuls of nuts. There is something lurking around the corners of my lips that comes with a sense of having been noticed, a slightly raised voice. That faint smile, the obscure awareness of being perceived, the grace of presence.

 

This could be from a real film or from a montage of images from all 1970s movies set in New York. A woman, watched from across the street, steps out from between two parked cars into the street and looks to see if any traffic is coming before crossing. Complete absorption, making sure she is clear to cross, looking like she has things on her mind and somewhere to get to in a hurry. Behold the iconography of feminism in its most beautiful incarnation; a mind-mix of Meryl Streep and Annie Hall, posited against the dreadful 50s bored housewife drinking and pilling her way through restless afternoons and evenings. Having something to do and somewhere to go became the aesthetic of feminism as well as its reality. Breathless from something that involved mental as well as physical stimulation, this American archetype combined the impression of health with a sense of reality. How air seemed to move around her as if she was a real person who existed in real dimensions.

 

I’m a fashion magazine editor, lying in the bath in the Upper West Side apartment that I don’t have to share with anyone, smoking a cigarette with my one dry hand. The other is on top of my substantial pubic hair. In the room, the sound of one drop falling into the bathwater; outside, a car horn is blowing in the street. For dinner later I’ll have a sandwich and a cold beer from the deli and then go out to my friend’s birthday party – my gift to her is a book. Fantasizers of the simple life: didn’t you think you would be able to touch your job or even sense it as a tangible thing, near the tip of your tongue? Now the tip of your tongue leads you towards something that doesn’t have a name yet.

 

 

Diderot: “It is the difference between a woman who is seen and a woman who exhibits herself.” Bogost: “It is the difference between cigarettes and iPhones.” A history of browsing by the woman who lives in my parents’ neighborhood includes the Simon Community, Cancer Research, Womens’ Aid, the DSPCC, Friends of the Elderly and Barnardos. Worried that she won’t be seen by other humans or her legitimate presence will be questioned, she takes a hard line with the charity shop assistant, complaining that the price is outrageous, asking to see the manager or referring to the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980. Asking for a light, holding it all together. Go-to, iconic, rare, illuminati, apple cider vinegar benefits, facebook, candida overgrowth, what is swag, morgellons, who has looked at my profile, glowing, mackeeper.

 

I’m Jacqueline du Pré and I dated Rodin for a short while. I mean it was actually never that serious, just a few nice dinners and nights out together. We’re still great friends, but in the end it mostly came down to competitiveness and that can be destructive – I guess my career was really starting to take off and he had a few years to go before he got any recognition. You know he once told me that he never started smoking because he just didn’t have the time.

 

I’m a statue of Nike in the Louvre extending my wings there, just thinking about the aesthetics of the protestant work ethic, the fantasy of unanalyzed complexity in everyday life, of pure immediacy. Why do people have such a hard time with that? Leaping into unmediated experience, a rush of air all around me, things seem less frightening. Of course it helps that I’m all drapery, no head.

 

 

Persona, 2013

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