Tropical Body (IES)
The Tortilla Curtain

(written in collaboration with Liv Schulman)


“Nothing like a little disaster for sorting things out.”

Blow up, blow up, blow up. The photographer enlarges the negative and smaller and smaller elements come into view. He slowly puts the puzzle together. Has a murder happened, or has he become part of the puzzle?

There is an image of two bears. Big, brown, Alaskan bears, staring into space, philosophical bears. Their shiny fur trapped in time behind glass, frozen in front of a background of mountains covered in snow that is whiter than snow itself. Everything seems too real to be real; the bears are a parody of themselves, as are the mountains and everything around them.

Our thoughts are interrupted by yet another image, of walls reflected on sunglasses and protruding moustaches. Of race, of things that become other things, of body politics. Thus, a poem in four acts.

First act, parodying Blow Up

I woke up knowing that something was happening to me.

My body had changed allegiance and was willing itself back into the substrate of the earth.

I tried to resist it, to protest
But then my protest was no longer human, but always banal.

I could feel myself expanding infinitely, growing soon my limbs were made of concrete,
my insides a fluid river,
the skin of my body crumbled and turned to dirt. I grew no roots and yet, forever I became part of the landscape.

By the fall of night, I had become a wall.
The children of your children will no longer remember
a time before me.

I tried to resist it, to protest

But then my protest became another form of boredom
no longer an escape to the hiccup that is my own existence.

Second act, parodying Blow Up

I was sitting at the bar of the National History museum.
Time went by slowly for the bears in the display and for me.

If you think of my image you will realize that there are a few elements of discord.
If you think of the image you’re seeing
a blurry black spot is growing in what you think the image is.

A black shape parading here and there, textured TV image, the thing goes from one side to the other, is it supposed to be me or is it simply the name for mystery?

A body sitting in a chair was emulating the posture of embalmed bears emulating bears in action.
The body was unfortunately mine and it was stuck to the chair. The chair was emulating some thonet chair from 1919 but the material was plastic. And it was stuck to the floor too in some incomprehensible un-structuralist way of understanding urban furniture.

The thing was that the chair was too far away from the table for me; I’m a small person. And I need to have objects close, the plastic cup remained too far away.

I sadly began to raise one hand in the air.
My torso was curbing in pride.
My mouth opened, in frustration.
A deep and hypnotic sound came out of my mouth. Everyone in the cafeteria was subjugated, looking at me. Then we saw blurry deep black stain on image.

Then I saw glass and stillness.

Intermission, parodying Aura

I’m back at the National History Museum. Or maybe it’s the British Museum.
I’m in Rusell Square,
I’m in Kings Cross,
I’m lost.
I no longer know where are I am.
Look up, look down. Look left look right.

My expansion is infinite and yet my body seems finite.
Expansion, contraction, expansion, contraction, expand then dissolve.
Look up, look down. Look left look right.

This time my insides are filled with fur. There isn’t one inch left without fur.
And yet, I’m no longer bear, no longer human. The fur feels dry and prickly in my mouth.
I can feel the fur, tickling my insides, like reversible pores, growing inside-out.

I can no longer remember how old I am.
It is the 80’s,
It is the 18th hundreds
It is the X Generation 90’s It is tomorrow.

I keep walking without aim, the city taking control of my movements,
the fur invading my body in infinite expansion. Expansion, contraction, expansion, contraction, expand then dissolve.
And it no longer matters if I’m bear or human
Look up, look down. Look left look right.

Third act. Parodying Blow Up

In terms of modern commodities.
I was waiting for the light to turn green to cross the street. Concrete was all around, it was London the city itself. The Barbican entrance it was.
The street in London is (to me) composed the other way around.
I cross the street.
The street crosses me. I remain in between the
zebra lines, it’s inadmissible I can’t go any further! I can’t move anymore, soon I liquefy inside asphalt until I’m trapped there. My face is on the ground, what goes on the surface covers my new body.

And the sequence goes like this: cars (in troupe of 25)
cars (in group of 15)
cars (and so on)
cars cars cars cars cars


feet in shoes (generic) feet in heels (generic) feet in shoes
feet in shoes
feet in heels feet in shoes feet in heels
and so on, for ever.

Parodying Blow Up fourth act and finale

In here everything is red.
The words people pronounce are said half in Spanish and half on your insides.
What happens on the inside? People have problems distinguishing inside and outside around here, maybe because you’re either on one side or the other and when you’re on one side the awareness of the other side is so strong that you just don’t have other notion than sides. And sides have insides of course, but no outsides. In here outside is in reality the other side, so confusion is everyone’s girlfriend around here. We are talking about the border.
I wait until the hit becomes a zigzag on my Aviator glasses.
My role is to protect people from what they want, and to give them what they believe they need. I’m dirt, I’m a reflection in sunglasses and I live in masculine moustaches. The languages could be Guaraní, Quechua, Mocovi, litoralian language for the dessert, that’s what the desert needs. Spanish is just a convention and so is English. The border language moves inside our body, in slow movements that are more likely vibes. It just doesn’t come out of your mouth; it travels your body around here. Silence is the king, we all believe in vaguely Tex-Mex precepts about how silence is gold and word is silver and so on, so people don’t talk much around here. Also because it is so hot. My concrete body is mystery too, because I seem to have liquefied.
Slow climax, things just don’t happen because they happen all the time, I am a shadow in a Hooper’s painting, very sharp and very well defined, very sad and very alone.

Published in Idioglossia: an art writing glossary. Distributed by Motto