Exhibition by Nora Nadjarian
I. The Chairs Were Hanging From the Ceiling
Chairs hang from the ceiling. Do not touch. They move themselves, not all the time, not all at the same time. So it’s a bizarre effect when a chair, a wardrobe, a bed, seemingly decides to express itself. They hang by invisible wires from the beams and have pencils attached. Their motions write indecipherable messages on blank sheets beneath them: meaningless, desperate, like a memory, or a child’s attempt at an alphabet, all over the place. Each one seems to have something to say: the longer you look at it, the more meaningful, the more insistent, the more enigmatic.
The one that spoke to me was the piano stool, the round, wooden, swirling one. I had not seen one of those since the days I used to sit next to my piano teacher, the formidably Russian Miss Nina. A red velvet cushion was placed under my little bottom to make me taller, my small fingers concentrated on Brahms’ Waltz in G-sharp Minor and Nina repeated, More! More open! More open! You are playing closed! You are playing like a cage!
When she left me to have a pee, always a few minutes before the end of the lesson, I would swirl a full 360 degrees on the stool until she came back. I tried to play “more open” in the last five minutes just to please her, whatever playing open meant. I wanted to play round and round, open and opener, sharper and Majorer, but it all came out sad, flat, G, Flat, Minor.
And the trace made, on the white sheet, is a circle of lines that criss and cross as the stool spins and my little feet swing in and out.
2. The Street of the Whores
The exhibition space is one street away from The Street of the Whores.
The whore was cooking a stew with bay leaves, stirring in other spices from her rack, at random. The front door was open and the place smelled divine. Any passer-by would be tempted. Soon, there was a cockroach scratching its legs behind the gas cooker and there was a man sprawled on the sofa, wearing shorts and a stained singlet, and she was saying I’m coming, I’m coming. They were a romantic couple, the whore, her client. Even a ménage a trois, if you counted the cockroach.
She closed the door and started taking off her clothes. A big, fat lump of nothing, that’s what she knew she was. Her feet almost shuffled as she walked towards him in the dim pink light. She wanted to tell him something indecipherable, something meaningless, something desperate about her life. But this was business, and business is business.
The whore’s mother insisted on her death bed that she had three daughters, not four. No, no, the third one died when she was very young, I only have three daughters, she declared. Her eldest daughter, the one with the perfectly shaped eyebrows, sat on a wobbly chair by her side, held her hand all the time.
After the exhibition, the restaurant was full of literati and glitterati sipping chilled white wine. Yes - absolutely incredible- I simply – did you?- purest materials- They couldn’t possibly have – No, of course not- the raw one…
A mobile phone rang. The zip of an enormous handbag opened, zzzzzzzzzip, and then closed again, zzzzzzzzip, somebody talked to the phone and to the party at the same time, a pregnant woman coughed, a glass of water was knocked over.
It was mid-summer and there was a slight breeze. The candle on the table blew out, the waiter reappeared, apologised, struck a match, lit the candle, and retired again into the shadow, somewhere to the left of the palm tree. The baby moved, the pregnant woman whispered to her husband. He moved, she whispered again, and held his hand.
Things shifted from here to there and from there to here. The ghosts of the old town wrote their diaries. Please don’t touch the exhibits, they move on their own.
And life moved on.
Nora Nadjarian is a poet and writer from the island of Cyprus. Work published in Cyprus, Israel, the UK, the USA and elsewhere, most recently on 6S and www.metazen.ca. A finalist in the Binnacle Sixth Annual International Ultra-Short Competition at The University of Maine at Machias (USA).