(4:30 am, waiting for the curfew lock-out to release the bolted door to the dormitory I am staying in. I try to stay awake at the only place open so that the pack of roving skinheads pacing the train station doesn’t decide to seize upon me as they have the Senegalese sunglass vendors waiting for the morning’s first train to arrive. Despite my childhood lessons learned about not talking to strangers, I find myself agreeing to follow an elderly Tunisian man dressed in a suit that looks far to heavy for July. I follow as he darts through a series of narrow passageways, over the wall of the Montparnasse cemetery. We continue silently down unmarked streets, across a sandy patch with benches and down a flight of stairs to find several other similarly clad men drinking tiny cups of viscous liquid in what looks to be the kitchen of someone’s basement apartment thrown marginally open to the public. Everyone shakes my hand and I gladly slurp the thick black liquid they gave me. We talk until it gets light about their work (electrical) and mine (hard enough for me to describe at this hour in English let alone French) and about being far from home. I get up to leave hoping to return to meet up with my new found friends soon. I can never find the place again.)
I keep looking for the ideal place. I keep looking for the ideal place and when I get there and pause for awhile, it is gone. Perhaps it is only the ideal place for a moment in time. The search resumes.
The way to the place is littered with the ideas I hold interesting, compiled of accidents, passing incidents, misunderstandings in combination with the path of events, the length of the daylight. The outcome of my research becomes more visible as I get to know a place. And then it fades, like a carnival leaving town fades from view, so that it can be the place to be desired again. Wouldn’t the ideal place be like living at the climax of processes rather than working towards it, driven by anticipation?
Most often I describe my work as situational, based on events, and derived from observations of social context and physical characteristics of a place. I am interested in work that can only function completely in a particular setting, rather than as an autonomous object in a neutral place. In these situations, my construction and my action mixes with pre-existing orders to set up new relationships, creating real scenarios out of imagined narratives. If all goes well, it could almost be mistaken for a marginal part of everyday life.
My most current obsessions are drawn from the Chicago School of Sociology (participant observers such as William Whyte, Erving Goffman), landscape history (JB Jackson, John Stillgoe) and poetic ruminations on places that might find kindred spirits in certain travel narrative (Italo Calvino, Pico Iyer, and Iain Sinclair.)