The Street of Crocodiles

MY FATHER kept in the lower drawer of his large desk an old and beautiful map of our city. It was a whole folio sheaf of parchment pages which, originally fastened with strips of linen, formed an enormous wall map, a bird’s eye panorama.

Będziemy wiecznie żałowali, żeśmy wtedy wyszli na chwilę z magazynu konfekcji podejrzanej konduity. Nigdy nie trafimy już doń z powrotem. Będziemy błądzili od szyldu do szyldu i mylili się setki razy. Zwiedzimy dziesiątki magazynów, trafimy do całkiem podobnych, będziemy wędrowali przez szpalery książek, wertowali czasopisma i druki, konferowali długo i zawile z panienkami o nadmiernym pigmencie i skażonej piękności, które nie potrafią zrozumieć naszych życzeń.

Będziemy się wikłali w nieporozumienia, aż cała nasza gorączka i podniecenie ulotni się w niepotrzebnym wysiłku, w straconej na próżno gonitwie.

Nasze nadzieje były nieporozumieniem, dwuznaczny wygląd lokalu i służby — pozorem, konfekcja była prawdziwą konfekcją, a subiekt nie miał żadnych ukrytych intencji. Świat kobiecy ulicy Krokodylej odznacza się całkiem miernym zepsuciem, zagłuszonym grubymi warstwami przesądów moralnych i banalnych pospolitości. W tym mieście taniego materiału ludzkiego brak także wybujałości instynktu, brak niezwykłych i ciemnych namiętności.

Ulica Krokodyli była koncesją naszego miasta na rzecz nowoczesności i zepsucia wielkomiejskiego. Widocznie nie stać nas było na nic innego, jak na papierową imitację, jak na fotomontaż złożony z wycinków zleżałych, zeszłorocznych gazet.

Hung on the wall, the map covered it almost entirely and opened a wide view on the valley of the River Tysmienica which wound itself like a wavy ribbon of pale gold, on the maze of widely spreading ponds and marshes, on the high ground rising towards the south, gently at first, then in ever tighter ranges, in a chessboard of rounded hills, smaller and paler as they receded towards the misty yellow fog of the horizon. From that faded distance of the periphery, the city rose and grew towards the centre of the map, an undifferentiated mass at first, a dense complex of blocks and houses, cut by deep canyons of streets, to become on the first plan a group of single houses, etched with the sharp clarity of a landscape seen through binoculars. In that section of the map, the engraver concentrated on the complicated and manifold profusion of streets and alleyways, the sharp lines of cornices, architraves, archivolts and pilasters, lit by the dark gold of a late and cloudy afternoon which steeped all corners and recesses in the deep sepia of shade. The solids and prisms of that shade darkly honeycombed the ravines of streets, drowning in a warm colour here half a street, there a gap between houses. They dramatized and orchestrated in a bleak romantic chiaroscuro the complex architectural polyphony.

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Paintings Should Stick in the Throat

A question and its answer … are the painters still those painters who are painting the great cave? Do they paint the buffalo on the wall as hunger, the eagle as freedom, and the woman with a big bottom as love? Do they paint the buffalo as the table that magically sets itself? Have they meanwhile left the cave, cleared out of the community, and forgotten all those universal, comprehensible agreements, because magic does not still hunger, because flying does not work and yearning for love does not breed love? Have they traded the cave for some other place? Propagandizing about needs, ‘What does man need?’ feeds upon a yearning for freedom and the fear of death and entices us into taking another way, off the painters’ course. The smart ones, hotshots, innovators, activists – in the forefront madmen and hotspurs – have remained within their own skulls. They proclaim plucky mottos: paintings should stick in the throat, eyelids should be nailed down, and hearts grabbed with pliers. Fish bone, air raid and separation. Well, one still sits together around the fire, warms up the studios, has had enough to eat, and is in love. On battered canvases are those sumptuous ornaments filled with jumbled lines and rich colours; crystalline galleries hang over the frames. All that once stood erect, the still life, has been knocked over, the landscape has been seized and uprooted, the interiors tangled, and the portraits scratched and pierced. Painting became music. Surrealism won. Everything durable has been kicked out of the paintings.

Now, the tone goes right through walls, the line stands upside down. Are the painters now unhappy and freezing? They dance and celebrate with their friends, they invite their fathers and drink Capri with them. A black painting is as white as the sky. The colours in the dark cave are aglow. Light is superfluous. Everything is utterly different, anyway. The paraphernalia of Venus, Zeus, the angels, Picasso were invented by the painters, as were the bull, the roast chicken and the lovers. The pear-wood palette became a pail, the brush a knife, an axe and a club. The largest paintings are larger, and the smallest are smaller than ever before. Someone painted a painting weighing five hundred pounds. A Chinese handwalked over the canvas. A Norwegian painted 168 acres of birch wood on one and one-half square inches of canvas. This is not the way I want to continue. Hygiene, I mean religion, is employed. Discipline is one thing, education another, and meditation, too. Intoxication is used to prepare or to stabilize an attitude. Some eat well, others purify themselves through fasting. While I see no point at all in bustling around, in being confused, zap, zap, my friend between New York and Cologne makes the best paintings in his trouser pocket, where his canary sits. Does one see more of the world by climbing a ladder, does one see still more by lying down flat on the field and by sticking one’s nose in the ground? Either way. The difference between a German and an Italian apple tree is enormously large. In Tuscany in the garden I made photos of such trees. Back home in Germany I was terribly excited by these exotic apple trees, these unpaintable fairy-tale-tree-inventions. I realized that I did not want to paint an apple tree at all. I was still under the mother and had stuck out only my nose. The world had not opened up, the secret remained hidden within the object, but now there was confusion. This is an experience, but not of the kind that broadens your mind through shifting horizons. The first la-la sounds and the first dot-dot-comma-dash are indeed vehement creations for the one who makes them. This is not theory. I composed Fidelio, I know precisely that as a six-year-old I conducted this very piece; hare and dog I painted when I was eight years old, signing them Albrecht Dürer. One of these watercolours is in Vienna, in the Albertina, the dog is lost.

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I Am for an Art

I am for an art that is political-erotical-mystical, that does something other than sit on its ass in a museum.

I am for an art that grows up not knowing it is art at all, an art given the chance of having a starting point of zero.


I am for an art that embroils itself with the everyday crap & still comes out on top.

I am for an art that imitates the human, that is comic, if necessary, or violent, or whatever is necessary.

I am for all art that takes its form from the lines of life itself, that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips, and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself.

I am for an artist who vanishes, turning up in a white cap painting signs or hallways.

I am for art that comes out of a chimney like black hair and scatters in the sky.

I am for art that spills out of an old mans purse when he is bounced off a passing fender.

I am for the art out of a doggys mouth, falling five stories from the roof.

I am for the art that a kid licks, after peeling away the wrapper.

I am for an art that joggles like everyone’s knees, when the bus traverses an excavation.

I am for art that is smoked, like a cigarette, smells, like a pair of shoes. I am for art that flaps like a flag, or helps blow noses, like a handkerchief.

I am for art that is put on and taken off, like pants, which develops holes, like socks, which is eaten, like a piece of pie, or abandoned with great contempt, like a piece of shit.

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Harry Potter and The Rhinoceros


The scene is a square in a small muggle town. Up-stage a
house composed of a ground floor and one storey. The
ground floor is the window of a grocer’s shop. The entrance
is up two or three steps through a glass-patted door. The
word EPICERIE is written in bold letters above the shop
window. The two windows on the first floor are the living
quarters of the grocer and his wife. The shop is up-stage,
but slightly to the left, not far from the wings. In the
distance a church steeple is visible above the grocer’s
house. Between the shop and the left of the stage there is a
little street in perspective. To the right, slightly at an angle,
is the front of a café. Above the café, one floor with a
window; in front, the café terrace; several chairs and tables
reach almost to centre stage. A dusty tree stands near the
terrace chairs. Blue sky; harsh light; very white walls. The
time is almost mid-day on a Sunday in summertime.

at one of the terrace tables.

[The sound of church bells is heard, which stop a
few moments before the curtain rises. When the
curtain rises, a woman carrying a basket of
provisions under one arm and a cat under the other
crosses the stage in silence from right to left. As she
does so, the GROCER’S WIFE opens her shop door and
watches her pass.]
GROCER’S WIFE: Oh that woman gets on my nerves! [To her
husband who is in the shop:] Too stuck-up to buy from us
nowadays. [The GROCER’S WIFE leaves; the stage is empty
for a few moments.]

[RON WEASLEY enters right, at the same time as HARRY POTTER enters
left. WEASLEY is very fastidiously dressed: brown suit, red
tie, stiff collar, brown hat. He has a reddish face. His
shoes are yellow and well-polished. POTTER is
unshaven and hatless, with unkempt hair and
creased clothes; everything about him indicates
negligence. He seems weary, half-asleep; from time
to time he yawns.]

WEASLEY: [advancing from right] Oh, so you managed to get here
at last, Harry Potter!
POTTER: [advancing from left] Morning, Ron!
WEASLEY: Late as usual, of course. [He looks at his wrist watch.]
Our appointment was for 11.30. And now it’s practically
POTTER: I’m sorry. Have you been waiting long?
WEASLEY: No, I’ve only just apperated myself, as you saw.
[They go and sit at one of the tables on the café
POTTER: In that case I don’t feel so bad, if you’ve only just…
WEASLEY: It’s different with me. I don’t like waiting; I’ve no time to
waste. And as you’re never on time, I come late on
purpose—at a time when I presume you’ll be there.
POTTER: You’re right . . . quite right, but . . .
WEASLEY: Now don’t try to pretend you’re ever on time!
POTTER: No, of course not . . . I wouldn’t say that.
[ and POTTER have sat down.]
WEASLEY: There you are, you see!
POTTER: What are you drinking?
WEASLEY: You mean to say you’ve got a thirst even at this time in
the morning?
POTTER: It’s so hot and dry.
WEASLEY: The more you drink the thirstier you get, popular
science tells us that…
POTTER: It would be less dry, and we’d be less thirsty, if
they’d invent us some scientific clouds in the sky.
WEASLEY: [studying POTTER closely] That wouldn’t help you any.
You’re not thirsty for water, Harry …
POTTER: I don’t understand what you mean.

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Megjegyzések egy kiáltványhoz

Notes de manifeste
Vasarely erTf t

Here are the determining facts of the past which tie us together and which, among others, interest us: ‘plastic’ triumphs over anecdote (Manet) – the first geometrization of the exterior world (Cézanne) – the conquest of pure colour (Matisse) – the explosion of representation (Picasso) – exterior vision changes into interior vision (Kandinsky) – a branch of painting dissolves into architecture, becoming polychromatic (Mondrian) – departure from the large plastic synthetics (Le Corbusier) – new plastic alphabets (Arp, Taeuber, Magnelli, Herbin) – abandoning volume for SPACE (Calder) … The desire for a new conception was affirmed in the recent past by the invention of PURE COMPOSITION and by the choice of UNITY, which we will discuss later. Parallel to the decline of painting’s ancestral technique, followed experimentation with new materials (chemical applications) and adoption of new tools (discovery of physics) … Presently we are heading towards the complete abandonment of routine, towards the integration of sculpture and the conquest of the plane’s SUPERIOR DIMENSIONS.

From the beginning, abstraction examined and enlarged its compositional elements. Soon, form-colour invaded the entire two-dimensional surface, this metamorphosis led the painting-object, by way of architecture, to a spatial universe of polychromy. However, an extra-architectural solution was already proposed and we deliberately broke with the neo-plastic law. PURE COMPOSITION is still a plastic plane where rigorous abstract elements, hardly numerous and expressed in few colours (matte or glossy), possess, on the whole surface, the same complete plastic quality: POSITIVE-NEGATIVE. But, by the effect of opposed perspectives, these elements give birth to and make vanish in turn a ‘spatial feeling’ and thus, the illusion of motion and duration. FORM AND COLOUR ARE ONE. Form can only exist when indicated by a coloured quality. Colour is only quality when unlimited in form. The line (drawing, contour) is a fiction which belongs not to one, but to two form-colours at the same time. It does not engender form-colours, it results from their meeting. Two necessarily contrasted form-colours constitute PLASTIC UNITY, thus the UNITY of creation: eternal duality of all things, recognized finally as inseparable. It is the coupling of affirmation and negation. Measurable and immeasurable, unity is both physical and metaphysical. It is the conception of the material, the mathematical structure of the Universe, as its spiritual superstructure. Unity is the absence of BEAUTY, the first form of sensitivity. Conceived with art, it constitutes the work, poetic equivalent of the World that it signifies. The simplest example of plastic unity is the square (or rectangle) with its complement ‘contrast’ or the two-dimensional plane with its complement ‘surrounding space’.

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Manifest, a new consciousness with laws of dialectics

Een nieuw bewustzijn binnen de wetten van de dialectiek

The dissolution of Western classical culture is a phenomenon that can be understood only against the background of a social evolution which can end only in the total collapse of a principle of society thousands of years old and its replacement by a system whose laws are based on the immediate demands of human vitality. The influence the ruling classes have wielded over the creative consciousness in history has reduced art to an increasingly dependent position, until finally the real psychic function of that art was attainable only for a few spirits of genius who in their frustration and after a long struggle were able to break out of the conventions of form and rediscover the basic principles of all creative activity.

After Us

Together with the class society from which it emerged, this culture of the individual is faced by destruction too, as the former’s institutions, kept alive artificially, offer no further opportunities for the creative imagination and only impede the free expression of human vitality. All the isms so typical of the last fifty years of art history represent so many attempts to bring new life to this culture and to adapt its aesthetic to the barren ground of its social environment. Modern art, suffering from a permanent tendency to the constructive, an obsession with objectivity (brought on by the disease that has destroyed our speculative-idealizing culture), stands isolated and powerless in a society which seems bent on its own destruction. As the extension of a style created for a social élite, with the disappearance of that élite modern art has lost its social justification and is confronted only by the criticism formulated by a clique of its connoisseurs and amateurs.

Western art, once the celebrator of emperors and popes, turned to serve the newly powerful bourgeoisie, becoming an instrument of the glorification of bourgeois ideals. Now that these ideals have become a fiction with the disappearance of their economic base, a new era is upon us, in which the whole matrix of cultural conventions loses its significance and a new freedom can be won from the most primary source of life. But, just as with a social revolution, this spiritual revolution cannot be enacted without conflict. Stubbornly the bourgeois mind clutches onto its aesthetic ideal and in a last, desperate effort employs all its wiles to convert the indifferent masses to the same belief. Taking advantage of the general lack of interest, suggestions are made of a special social need for what is referred to as ‘an ideal of beauty’, all designed to prevent the flowering of a new, conflicting sense of beauty which emerges from the vital emotions.

As early as the end of the First World War the DADA movement tried by violent means to break away from the old ideal of beauty. Although this movement concentrated increasingly on the political arena, as the artists involved perceived that their struggle for freedom brought them into conflict with the laws that formed the very foundations of society, the vital power released by this confrontation also stimulated the birth of a new artistic vision.

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Paradise and Hell can be one City

In 1941 Bertolt Brecht was living in Santa Monica, California.
He aspired to sell stories to Hollywood …
it did not go well.

Das Dorf Hollywood ist entworfen nach den Vorstellungen
Die man hierorts vom Himmel hat. Hierorts
Hat man ausgerechnet, daß Gott
Himmel und Hölle benötigend, nicht zwei
Etablissements zu entwerfen brauchte, sondern
Nur ein einziges, nämlich den Himmel. Dieser
Dient für die Unbemittelten, Erfolglosen
Als Hölle.

Am Meer stehen die Öltürme. In den Schluchten
Bleichen die Gebeine der Goldwäscher. Ihre Söhne
Haben die Traumfabriken von Hollywood gebaut.
Die vier Städte
Sind erfüllt von dem Ölgeruch
Der Filme.

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