Thursday, 28 March 2013


Who am I kidding, every artist loves a restriction. Bruce Nauman came straight to mind as I hopped around the flat in my high-waisted heel-holed tights, desperately trying to fix a bra strap hook into it's rightful place, managing one hook, deciding the gamble for both was just plain greedy. I laughed at the absurdity of such an everyday act made into a challenge of might and ridicule. I can do this. Like the time I was definitely going to fix the blender spindle, and definitely didn't need a boy in the vicinity. Once I'd decided, it was made; the physical result just lagged behind a few tools purchased on eBay, and gentle cajoling from a flatmate who ate couscous 80% of the time and probably couldn't see the point of the blender anyway.

Bruce paces his square, tick tock, restrictions. I bag my bandages up for another shower, quick now at the taping and tucking. I sit in the bath at the wrong end and rest the arm outside of the curtain, on the perfectly placed sink. The worker begins lathering and soon they're having a kind of conversation, a bothered caregiver being hassled by a helpless dependent: You alright? Yeah, I'm just working at the moment. Oh ok, I'll just wait over here. Yes you relax, are you ok? Yeah I'm ok, achy but you know. Yes, you have to be patient. I know. I bloody know. They become characters, an unlikely couple, one fixed and forward, one timid and prone.

Several moods come over the restricted party during the next week. Impatience figures quite prominently alongside fear, mistrust, frustration and confusion. Immense tiredness, who knew an arm needed so much sleep all to itself, 13 hours in 24 on some days. It develops a box set habit and luxuriates on pillows. It cancels social occasions, I'm sorry, the arm needs to go to sleep, so we can't make the talk/film/party. It becomes the physical object of my current obstructions. Almost nice to see it outside of my head, crooked equally helpful and bound by a gentle tattooed man at 1am last Friday.

Restraints or constraints. It reminded me of the Oulipo; if you don't know where to start, take something away and forced invention follows. A dancing hand types for two, sleep is interesting angles, forks work as knives, a t-shirt whips off in one, a cape snatched like a table cloth laid with china. Puzzles are solved. There's a whole Mary Poppins aspect to it, it becomes kind of fun. Embrace limitations and accept impossibilities. There's no way you can pin up a hairstyle with just one hand, but it consequently now flips the opposite (more pleasing) side for the first time, so a positive result.