coastal elevators

Imagine an elevator
A creaky one
Perhaps a broken-down one, whose door still works, but not the up and down of it
So the creak comes from the door
as it opens out into the vestibule
It is an old-timey elevator
not a new fangled one with a sliding door that opens sideways
an old one with a door that opens out so that people can go in

Even though it doesn’t go up and down anymore, people still go into it
They go in, close the door and then after a while, they come out again
Each time the only words exchanged are those made by the elevator as its movements grate the raw metal apart and together again

Silence can at times constitute a safe space
A geographic space of uniform potential
A social terrain without expectations
A temporary evacuation of the power relations that pressure our bodies and minds with their subtle violences and controls

In it we can afford collapse
we can explore the destructive synergies of loss and suffering
we can patiently interrogate sensations of ecstasy
we can remember that we don’t just perform for the living, but also for the dead who may be watching
we can happily imagine our own obliteration
we can try to understand what it means for something to be in constant flux over millions of years
we can begin to recover from the shattering experience of discontinuity
we can wake up

Although the elevator itself is immovable, its qualities create a kind of transient habitat
with each person who enters, sometimes alone, sometimes with another, finding a nourishment unique to them
and yet the more time you spend there, in this place, in this elevator, in the vestibule, on the path to the building inhabited by the elevator, the more you yourself become part of the known landscape
the more you yourself become known to others also coming and going
known to the elevator
to the vestibule
to the path
your traces left on their surfaces
your weight and movement eroding, quite naturally, their shapes and appearances

And like the skin on your body, like the coast of an ocean, the door of the elevator does not represent a stable boundary
The elevator’s silence reaches deep within you, reshaping your sea floor
Its particles attach themselves to you, and then willingly succumb to gravity as you continue out into the open path beyond the elevator’s building, dropping onto the plants, dirt, concrete as you go by
The elevator goes with you as you walk
as you dance
as you change your precession
as you shift your tilt angle
as you alter your eccentricity
as you fill your book with seeds
  as you cut holes in it
   as you hang it where there is wind
as you say good-bye to a body in the midst of the first movement
The first movement is death
And it goes both up and down, and even out in all directions



Some of the words and images of this piece were borrowed from the following sources:

  • Barber, Stephen. Hijikata: Revolt of the Body. Solar Books, 2010 (2005 copyright).
  • Goulish, Matthew. 39 Microlectures: in proximity of performance. Routledge, 2000.
  • Mazurana, Dyan, Lacey Andrews Gale, and Karen Jacobsen. Research Methods in Conflict Settings: A View From Below. Cambridge University Press, 2013.
  • World Ocean Review. 5: Coasts — A Vital Habitat Under Pressure. maribus gGmbH, 2017.