Monday, 23 June 2008

Last night’s storm is nowhere to be seen. Outside the air is fresh, as though each and every leaf, plant and tree is breathing, as if the endless hours of Sunday night’s rain have permeated into the ground only to be absorbed by networks of roots and driven upwards through the stems and trunks and transpired out into the streets and courtyards below our apartment window.

Talk this morning is of circadian rhythms. By half seven I was out of the house, showered and dressed, and into those same streets buying expensive stadtlbrot and ripe morning fruits for breakfast. In this city life starts slowly. All around me as I write now the faint high pitches of bedside alarms and their fainter, deeper echoes cheep and pester like nesting birds, the sounds drifting through open windows and falling into the courtyard.

At this time the sun has moved round to circle the building’s left flank so that a wedge of light covers the majority of the small white windows of that block’s living quarters. As the sun rises, it angles its light further down into the corners of the yard below, the yard with its made beds and flowers. The sun warms the brightly coloured plastic lids of the bins and heats the air within the tyres of the many bikes which rest, chained to themselves, reluctant to leave.

Things could be worse, life here is fine. Yesterday Cara and I trawled in the oppressive heat, hunting through galleries for semblances, riding our bicycles between reconditioned warehouses, annexed industrial spaces, borrowed religious buildings, converted cafes and even one dentist’s practice which had given over its treatment room walls to large oil canvases. In the reception, through a tinny modern radio, played the music of a singer I had promoted back in Newcastle. With it came distant strings, a gentle reminder that here I am without what one traditionally names friends. Still, the weather here begins to compensate and things begin to connect – there is positivity here, in writing and in exploring new places.

Nothing truly struck me artistically in any of these places – as always, the architectures of Berlin’s art outposts and the unanimous direction of their functions overbear. But this sounds like a slight, perhaps against visual art, and perhaps it is true – there is no secret made of my struggle here. The bold, near-neon oil portraiture of Sebastiaan Verhees, still-lives held in black with bold luminescent outlines seeming almost sonorous, was a highlight. Later, within a church, there was the beginnings of nice works which, despite their unsophistication and tendancy towards metaphor, used taxidermy and reacquainted industrial materials to present worlds within worlds.

Today holds little of significance, nothing can be said with much surety. This brilliant weather looks set to continue – I have two skin tones now, I am striped. Blisters and schmerzen probably preclude too much cycling, so I have the perfect excuse to write. How do writers function in the summer, are they not overwhelmed by the guilt of not seizing sunshine that they so pined for in the dark months of December and beyond? Achievement, I suppose, satisfies all.