Galavant Magazine: Issue Nº 2—CRACK

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Issue Nยบ 3 Ft. Christiane Baumgartner

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Crack


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info@galavantmag.com www.galavantmag.com Facebook facebook.com/galavantmagazine Instagram @galavantmag Literary Submissions natalie@galavantmag.com Visual Submissions dilys@galavantmag.com Love Letters nat@galavantmag.com Galavant LLP Š 2014. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without the permission of the publisher, writers and artists.


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Managing Editor Dilys Ng Literary Editor Natalie Chin Design & Art Direction Nathalia Kasman Tan Qi Ming Printer Dominie Press Distribution Allscript Paper Cover: Summer White 250gsm Content: Recypal 80gsm by RJ Paper Website Pettycache ISSN 2315-4047

Acknowledgements Alan Cristea Gallery Amanda Zhao Christiane Baumgartner Diana Tan The Kasmans Mark Tan SACK Korea VG Bild-Kunst Xie Yi Shan

Contributors Alex MacDonald Alex Miller Alexis Vasilikos Alice Ash Christiane Baumgartner Cyril Wong Daisy Lafarge Jack Davison Jake Dennis Kerry Giangrande Liana Yang Liu Liling Samantha Conlon Sophie Overett Stephen O’Toole Yun Jin


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Galavant

EDITOR’S NOTE Sitting down to look at the works for thi is not merely a shifting of forms into a co of finality—we see themselves lengthen a through time, sinking into the years. With our third issue, this is the co works together: the search for the cracks rooms we confine ourselves to. The sudde that may not yet be visible to the eye. On cannot be unseen. What one does then, w in these stories. Our feature artist for this issue is is a German artist whose work translates memorialisation of a single moment thro relationship between fracture and percep prints from Final Cut. and Himmelblau a critically acclaimed black and white piece Yet another year has passed, and w Together with our sixteen international c existing beliefs, and what we think we kn with the turn of this page. Natalie Chin


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Issue Nº 3—Crack

is issue all at once, what we see before us ollective weight, but also—with an air and seal into a single crack. Like a knife

ommon thread stitching the individual in relationships, our emotions, in the en splitting of our understanding. Cracks nce they have been spotted though, they with this realisation, is what you will find

Christiane Baumgartner. Christiane s video stills into woodcuts. Her ough physical etching is an echo of the ption in this issue’s theme. Her coloured are featured in this issue, as well as her es, Manhattan Transfer and Luftbild. we are excited to be at this point again. contributors, we slit through our prenow. The unfolding of our journey begins


12—27

28—31

36—53

Stephen O’Toole & Yun Jin

Quack

Alex MacDonald —

Shibboleth

Daisy Lafarge —

32—35

everything collapses to a poem but then folds out again

Alex Miller & Samantha Conlon —

GESTATION CRATE

Cyril Wong —

Portrait 8—11

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70—83

98—117

84—97

118—135

Conversations

— 136—159

Feature: Christiane Baumgartner

Sophie Overett & Jack Davison —

Down the Barrel

Alice Ash & Liu Liling —

Doctor Sharpe

Jake Dennis & Alexis Vasilikos —

Road Kill

Kerry Giangrande & Liana Yang —

inside, outside 54—69

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Writer

CYRIL WONG is the Singapore Literature Prize-winning author of poetry collections such as Unmarked Treasure, Tilting Our Plates to Catch the Light, The Dictator’s Eyebrow and After You. He has also published Ten Things My Father Never Taught Me and Other Stories and a novel, The Last Lesson of Mrs de Souza.


Cyril Wong

Portrait

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Portrait


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Cyril Wong

You took the photograph when I was asleep, certain you were being clever. You were; and you are. It showed me when my hair was longer, my eyes closed and one arm crooked beside my head. Then you framed it and passed it to me as a present, since nobody bought it when you displayed it at a gallery. You were one of those people who believed he made enough time for everybody. I disagreed; even though based on appearances alone, it could be argued that you were universally loved. The week I moved into Clementi with my family (my life-partner and my best friend), I accidentally smashed the picture and glass stabbed the photo-paper, splitting open my sleeping face. I told myself you would forget giving me this picture and smashed the portrait further to collect the pieces in a single plastic bag, which I later flung down the rubbish chute. Each time I see you now, I neglect to confess what I’ve done. I think I’m just awakening to the fact that it has hardly mattered whether you crept into my room one early morning to pin me down as an image, as a memory worth saving. I still call us friends, even as I can’t remember the last time you ever tried to photograph me again.


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Writer

ALEX MILLER lives in Florida and is afraid of sharks. He is the author of the novella “Osama bin Laden is Dead” (Battered Suitcase Press).


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Artist

SAMANTHA CONLON is a visual artist studying for a BFA at Crawford College Of Art in Ireland. She runs Bunny Collective, a group for female-identified artists in Ireland, the UK and Asia. She was born in London in 1990.


GESTATION CRATE

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Issue Nº 3—Crack


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GESTATION CRATE


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Alex Miller & Samantha Conlon


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GESTATION CRATE

I’m one of those girls who used to go crazy over unicorns. When I was a kid I had all the plastic toys and stuffed animals and a big color poster on the wall behind my bed. And I’d look up at it at night when I should have been asleep, and I’d think about how great it would be to ride a unicorn, to hold on to its snow-white mane as it galloped through an enchanted forest, to charge into battle against gremlocks and blood sorcerers. Some nights I’d look out my bedroom window at the lawn all lit up from the lights of the house. I always hoped to see a unicorn. I kept hoping and hoping until one day I was too old for unicorns. They say the reason girls get obsessed with horses is because they want sex. Only maybe their psyches aren’t yet developed to where they can really understand sex, so instead they imagine straddling some big strapping Clydesdale and letting it bounce them up and down. They say it’s all psychological. I don’t know much about that, but I do know I started feeling sexual at a young age. I guess I was eight or nine. Maybe that’s young and maybe it’s not. Anyway I remember how my brother, he was about five years older than me, used to have his friends over sometimes to watch sports on the big TV in the basement. My brother wasn’t real keen on hanging out with his kid sister, but if I kept quiet and stayed in the back of the room he’d let me stick around. And I wouldn’t have bothered him at all if it hadn’t been for his friend Jack. I didn’t give a shit about most of my brother’s friends, but there was something different about Jack. I don’t know. He barely even talked


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Alex Miller & Samantha Conlon

to me. I just liked to look at him, is all. I’d hang out in the back of the basement while Jack and my brother watched basketball on TV. And I’d lie on a couch with a blanket over me. And I’d put a basketball between my legs, and then I’d just stare at Jack and go to town on the basketball. Something about Jack made me feel very sexual. I didn’t know exactly what sex was, but I’d watched enough TV to know there was something men and women did naked under the covers. And Jack made me feel something else, too. Something beyond sexual. When I looked at him, I felt like I was far up in the sky, like I could float around and didn’t have to worry about falling, and I could see the whole world below me, with green hills and blue streams winding between them, and if I wanted I could go anywhere, to Paris or Egypt or Australia. When I looked at Jack I felt like I could do anything. I always hoped something real would happen between me and Jack, but he was in high school and too old for somebody’s kid sister. Anyway I kept hoping he’d ask me to be his girlfriend. I kept hoping and hoping until one day I understood. When I consider how much I used to think about sex, it seems funny how long it took me to get knocked up. Of course I was always pretty crazy about birth control. That’s what saved me for so many years. But I wasn’t crazy enough, I guess, in the end. My boyfriend Riley wasn’t exactly thrilled to hear about it, but he acted decent enough, after a while, after it sunk in. He seemed to think it was important


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we keep it. I didn’t care much either way, but Riley felt strongly about it. I’d never seen him get so worked up about anything. He promised to work harder to find a job. And he said it earnestly, and he held my hand and looked me in the eye. This sort of behavior was unusual. What can I say about Riley? He was no Jack. He sure as Christ was no unicorn. I remember waking up one morning right after I started to show. The alarm went off, playing some Taylor Swift love song, and I slapped the button to shut it up. Riley lay beside me. He snored and rolled over. I brushed my stomach with the tips of my fingers. I imagined the thing inside me, sucking away, leeching nutrients from my blood. I got up and went to the kitchen. I checked my email on a laptop on the table. I hoped to hear back about a job I’d applied for. I’d applied two weeks earlier but hadn’t heard a thing. Some magazine wanted an editorial assistant. It wasn’t a magazine I cared anything about, but it was a real job, the kind I’d never had. And I had a journalism degree and everything. I’d been to college and the whole time planned on living a real life. But somehow it hadn’t worked out for me. I never landed a serious job, never even found an internship. So I’d taken a shit job at the mall and worked it for years. I figured I’d just keep working the shit job till I died. In my email I had a message from an animal welfare group. The group was upset over something called gestation crates. A video was embedded in the email. The video was footage shot surreptitiously at a pig warehouse. The video showed pigs in small cages. The bars of the cages were covered in rust or shit. The pigs squealed. The pigs banged their heads against the bars, but there was no room for the pigs to move. Shit pooled on the concrete floor. The pigs lay in pools of their own shit. When the camera panned around, you could see that the rows of pig cages stretched on and on, pretty much forever. The warehouse looked like some kind of hell, some kind of pig hell. The pigs had purple sores on their hides. The pigs stood up and stamped their feet. The pigs slipped and fell into pools of their own shit. The pigs squealed and squealed. “The fuck are you watching?” Riley said. He came out of the bedroom and sank into the couch. He turned on the TV and PS3. He held a controller and played Killzone. “I’m watching bacon,” I said. “Are you looking for a job today?” “I’ll get to it,” he said. He pressed buttons on the controller. He launched a rocket at a tank. “It would be a big help if you found a job,” I said. “I’ll get to it,” he said. He pushed more buttons. He shot an alien in the face. I went to work. I spent a long time folding shirts. Folding shirts was an important part of my job. I folded shirts before we opened in the morning, and all day long customers came into the store and unfolded them. So when they left I folded the shirts again.


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I arranged some pastel hoodies for a new display in front of the store. A song by Michael Buble played over the speakers. I thought it was unfair to make my fetus listen to Michael Buble. Listening to Michael Buble would make my unborn child demented, or make it so when she came out she’d only have three fingers or a stunted leg. One of the shirts had a unicorn on it. I looked at the unicorn. I thought about the poster that had hung in my bedroom when I was a kid. I’d been a happy kid, the kind who always had a lot of dreams. A shit job at the mall was not among them. Neither were babies. “Stop daydreaming,” Tyler said. Tyler was my boss. Tyler was assistant manager. “Sorry,” I said. I tried to fold shirts faster. Tyler didn’t walk away. He looked at me and smirked. He looked like he was imagining having sex with me, and not in a nice way. Tyler looked like all his sexual fantasies were porno fantasies. Later two girls came into the store. They were about sixteen and blond and wore jean shorts almost too small to be shorts. They talked about Katy Perry and bounced, a little, as they walked. “Can I help you find anything?” I said. But the girls didn’t answer. They walked by me and kept talking about Katy Perry. They went to a rack of clothing and looked through it. One of them held up a blouse, and the other laughed. “I’d rather shoot myself in the face,” said the girl holding the blouse. I stood in the middle of the sales floor and watched them. It didn’t matter because they didn’t see me. I was invisible. And it hadn’t been so many years since I was a girl just like them. The kind of girl who boys whisper about in study hall. The kind who could eat anything and not worry because she’s never been fat, never even imagined being fat. With one hand I rubbed my stomach, rubbed the bulge. Mostly it was the baby. But I knew if I tried squeezing into a pair of shorts like those girls wore, the fat in my legs would ooze out like the Blob, and everybody could take a good look at my cellulite and weird veins. I stood on the sales floor and imagined how I would look, and it was awful. Probably somebody would call the police. Tyler walked up and stood beside me. He looked at the girls like he wanted to have sex with them, and not in a nice way. “We need to get some girls like those to work here,” he said. “Girls like those would bring men into the store.” Traffic on the way home was bumper to bumper. I punched buttons on the radio but didn’t find any songs I liked. The car suddenly seemed small. It was a regular-sized car, but all the sudden it felt so small I could hardly breathe. I imagined having a wreck and being trapped in the car, imagined the steel frame


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pinning me to my seat. I would try to slide out a window, but I wouldn’t be able to move because the engine block would have crushed the bones in my legs. There would be metal everywhere. I would feel it piercing my belly. I would feel it pressing against my face. At home, Riley lay on the couch playing Killzone. “Did you look for a job today?” I said. “I’m fighting the last boss,” Riley said. The last boss was a skull guy with armor. The last boss teleported around. Riley tried to shoot him, but he teleported and killed Riley’s character. This happened a few times. “Fuck,” Riley said. “Goddamn fuck.” He held up the controller like he would throw it into the TV. Then he sank back into the couch. He pressed a button and started fighting the boss again. I sat at the kitchen table and opened my laptop. I smelled something awful from the kitchen. The dishes hadn’t been washed. Somehow the dishes never got washed. I checked my email. I wanted an email from the magazine, but I didn’t get one. I wondered how long I would go on hoping. Because it’s not like the magazine would tell me if they didn’t want me. They just wouldn’t send anything. It’s easier to say nothing. And I would keep on like this for a few more weeks, feeling that hopeful, fluttery feeling in my chest whenever I opened my email. Eventually I would take the hint. And I wouldn’t feel too let down, because this is always how it’s been for me. My life isn’t the kind where good things just suddenly happen, like lightning out of a clear summer sky. Things would go on like they always had. I’d keep working at the boutique until I was too old and ugly, then I’d move across the mall to some store for old, ugly women. I saw the email from the animal welfare group again. I opened it and watched the gestation crate video. I watched rows and rows of pigs squirming in cages, pigs with torn ears and broken teeth. Sows snapped and bit at each other through the bars. Pigs flopped around in their own shit. Some of them had bloody wounds on their legs. One of them had a bone sticking out of her knee. She flopped around and got shit all over the wound. She lunged against the bars. She smashed her face against them, over and over until blood dripped from her snout and pus oozed from her eyes. I smelled the stink of unwashed dishes. The pigs squealed in their cages. They pressed their faces against the bars. The pigs squealed and squealed. Without even thinking about it I rubbed my stomach. I looked at the walls of the apartment. They were covered in yellow wallpaper with some faded filigree design. The apartment was very old. There were food stains all over the wallpaper, tiny oblong spots of red and brown. I rubbed my belly and wondered why anyone bothered having babies. What was the point if the world was full of ugly wallpaper


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Alex Miller & Samantha Conlon

and shitty jobs at the mall and traffic jams and kitchen sinks full of scummy dishes and putrescence? That’s what I thought about all night. I went to sleep thinking about it and maybe even dreamed about it too. All know for sure is I woke up around 2 a.m. when I heard the loudest noise I’d ever heard in my life. It was a tearing, snapping sort of noise, like all of space and time being ripped apart, or the very thread of my existence pulled tighter and tighter until it split. I sat up in bed. I felt weird. I felt like maybe I wasn’t the same person I’d been when I’d laid down. I don’t know. It’s hard to explain. I looked down at Riley, still fast asleep, curled up like a baby and hogging all the blanket. I wondered if the sound I’d heard was real or if it had only existed in my brain. I decided I didn’t care. I slipped out of bed. I tiptoed to the closet for my coat. I took the back stairs and went outside to where I’d parked the car off the street. I sat in the car for a while before starting the engine. I just listened to myself breathe, in and out. I touched my stomach. I drove slow at first and took the car to the highway. I remember how my headlights lit up the road and how empty it looked, as if someone had built it just for me. I looked at the highway as it stretched long into the distance, stretched farther than I could know. I thought maybe I’d just floor it for a few hours and see where that got me. Then I’d pull over and get something to eat, and maybe I’d find a store selling little knick-knacks and shit, and maybe I’d buy one of those pewter unicorn figurines like I had when I was a kid, and I’d hang it from the rearview mirror. Then I’d get back on the highway and drive some more.


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Writer

DAISY LAFARGE is a hypermobile 22 year old survivor of the Finnish taiga, currently living in Scotland. Her interests include Spathiphyllum and debating with her one-footed Great Uncle Martin. Her writing has appeared in The Quietus, UP, ILK, and other places.


but then folds out again

lately it’s all been too long for lines in poems & you were a great guillotine when I knew you, and now that I don’t there are new sites of confession, like my skin, akin to Disneyland in its circus-like surface, and the deathfingers & toes to which I push all that needs numbing & they are cute menageries of cuticles, I can only sip at time as an apéritif

to a poem

Daisy Lafarge

everything collapses

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everything collapses to a poem but then folds out again

firstly, I’m sorry for the cast of your dick left in another country & I hope this poem’s more forgiving than your pride, but then we are all witches; strong or weak, sometimes I’m the steppenbabe, tying gold threads across the days, but mostly, lately, the clock tick’s tyrannical & I’m sent waking by osteolullabies for weeks, countries, or was it meals? it’s all a question of borders, like the hot pink rubber that was you, but isn’t, and the concertina blips of before and after 3 months of absence the alien insomniac took herself out for steak I demarcated its brown curl and thought ‘prenup’ so half of me took the mind, sex & furnishings & I got the oversized knitwear and skin secondly, I’m not at all zen but I’ve found such beauty in the crosswords I do to fall off the earth: ‘teardrop shaped bread’ (naan) ‘being through time’ (elapse)


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Daisy Lafarge

I’ve been trying to elapse but keep sicking up myself & thoughts of you limping, oh, canonically ~ outside, men sing songs of themselves that’ve ceased to be songs & are more like breaths & you’re so good at breathing it terrifies me when that part of you exhales, seemingly final & I wish I could ask Simone de B how she spun out with her Jean Bébé, I can’t help but take the depersonal personally logic is a tool of cruelty in the hands of a man, or something, she said, & sometimes I’d die for blood or shit or the shards of a room thrown at me, over our trite dance of words, all abeying, baybee ~ I was crawling out of time to get home, I’ve been a dry-eyed belly for months & now there’re floods on the news, I’m sorry for still believing in pathetic fallacy, but my grandmother told me yesterday that the spirit of death is on me so, I’ve got to keep my chin up somehow when I got off the plane from the lake cities & taiga shitty Heathrow was so bright it slit my eyes that was 2 weeks back & only now, just now, up on Galloway crests where the floods’ve leaked mercury to sky pools and dog just now, up on Galloway crests where the floods’ve leaked mercury to sky pools and dogwalkers greet me & my back clicks excitedly as people brush against me, am I finally beginning to peel


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ALEX MACDONALD lives and works in London. He has had his poetry published in The Quietus, Clinic, 3AM and English PEN. He hosted a series of readings at the V&A Museum on independent poetry publishers and was recently the Poet in Residence for the Poetry School.


Alex MacDonald

Shibboleth

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------- What marks you off from other people? ––– –– It is almost everything. The way you handle ––––– an orange, passing it from hand to hand, ––––––– –––– like truth rolls in the throat. The clothes –––––– ––––– that aren’t clothes at all, unsheathed and –––– ––––––– knotted fabric - the colours of kites, held –– ––––––––––– tight in strings. It is the God you know – ––––––––––––––– how he’s different to a God I might ––––––––––––––––– know, a God –––––– of breakfasts –––––– of milk and honey, ––––––––– drawn symbols ––––– on palms. ––––––––––––––––––– But mostly it is ––– the way ––––––––––––––––––– you talk, so, when you say –––––––––––––––– “the blue lights

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of the ambulance filled –––––––––––––– my hallway” or “I saw the men jumping” –––––––––––– I know you are not like ––– me. I wonder if –––––––––– you know the songs –––––– I know, what words –– rest in your chest ––––– when ––––––– you walk – down a street. Here –––––– the –––––– road and the rain are the ––– same ––––– grey and ––––– on the News the flood –– water ––––– shares –––––– the colour of the bridge – it has –––––– broken. –––– I wonder if it reminds you of ––––– where your –– parents grew up, where the fields –– are picked ––– naked for cotton, I presume, and – flags lean ––– from buildings, –––––––––––– not moving in the –– dead air –––––––––––––––––––– . 35 Alex MacDonald


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Writer

STEPHEN O’TOOLE was born in Glasgow, Scotland, 1985. His writing has been published in, amongst others, Metazen, New Wave Vomit, NoÜ Journal, Hilda, Pangur Ban Party. Once, he was a graduate philosophy student, now he works as a museum caretaker. He lives in Glasgow still, has rarely left.


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Artist

YUN JIN is a Singaporean visual artist who seeks to be a veritable storyteller through the images of people and places that evoke feelings, elicit thoughts and imagination. She makes photographs to record memories that are fleeting and insubstantial. Most of her works exist as portraitures as she wonders unceasingly about the lives of people and how she can capture nuances of it on camera. Her process forges a personal connection with her subjects to create emotionally intimate images, especially of those whom she meets when she travels. She currently has a self-published book called “Like Buttermilk Sky�.


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Galavant


Issue Nº 3—Crack

Quack

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Quack


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Stephen O’Toole & Yun Jin

My wife is in the kitchen with a rolling pin. “It’s me”, she says. “Your wife. I’m making dinner.” “I see”, I say. “It’s soup.” “Will you excuse me for a minute?” “I run out to the car and squeeze my stethoscope.” “Oh God’, I say, ‘if this is wrong, then please give me a sign.” Boom. I’m in a coma for three days. My husband’s sliding down the stairs, unconscious. Crystal balls come rolling down behind him, out of boxes, over packing-foam peanuts. I’m amazed to see him embracing such a sweet, romantic side of himself. I never thought he’d do this for me again. It’s like I’m suddenly honeymooning in a world without any awful things, like racism. Where the only n-word there ever was was ‘now’—or else, you know, ‘Niagara’, I guess, because of my waterfall husband here. I think I’m hearing birds. I’m flight headed. The birds are singing a song that sounds like soup boiling over, because in the kitchen the soup I’d made is bubbling out of the pan and onto the gas and I’m in love. I wish that I could tell him, after all this time, how glad I am that he’s still willing to try. I’d tell him with a pun combining singing birds and soup, because he always used to love me when I’d wordplay. Oh, if only I could bring that man back to me by saying, I’m making you scream of chicken—but I can’t because it’s lentil and he lies to me. I shush the sound of the birds by cutting the gas, but then they just start up again, singing through the telephone. “Hello? No, he can’t talk right now. He’s out. As in, outconscious.” I see him stand and stagger towards the kitchen, so great, now I’m a liar. He looks at me and rubs his head. His eyes suggest the telephone’s a rolling pin. “Who are you?”, he says. “What’s happening here?” “It’s me”, I say. “Your wife. I’m making dinner.” “I see”, he says. “It’s soup.” “Will you excuse me for a minute?” He’s gone before I can answer, though. So I just stand there, with my phoning pin or whatever, alone, and wondering where all the birds have gone. Then I hear them. They’re outside now. The birds are in the tyres of his car, squealing away. Which means, I guess, if he ever comes back to me, I can say to him, You were really burning robin!, and hope and hope and hope he understands.


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Stephen O’Toole & Yun Jin


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Quack

I sit up in my sick bed, tugging at my doctor. “Doctor,” I say, “I’m not a superstitious man, but am I in a karma because of coma? No wait. I mean, does bad coma kill? Sorry, I did it again. I think my karma’s affected my brain. The speech centre. You know?” “Well, first of all, you’re not in a coma. And second of all, your speech seems fine. You’re doing—you’re very consciously doing wordplay, you know you are, and I’ve asked you repeatedly to stop.” “But why, doctor? Why? What’s wrong with me?” “Because I can’t examine your head if you keep turning it to wink at me.” “And what about the three whole days I’ve just lost?” “Days? You haven’t lost any days. This bump on your head is an hour old at most.” “It is? Come on. Just play along, baby.” “I said stop winking. And also, look, you drove here, remember?” “Kiss me, Doctor.” “All kidding aside, you know I’m not a real doctor, right? You know it’s Rhonda, right? Your girlfriend? Role play I’m fine with. But if I have to start giving you mouth to mouth for real. . .” “Of course, baby, but listen, just tell me, what are the chances, right—I’m reaching into the cupboard to find our stethoscope, but the bag’s not where I’d left it, it’s further back, and so I’ve got to pull it out, and then what? All these crystal balls come out and clonk me on the head! I mean, my God, that doesn’t make you horny, just the description even? This is like if we were into—what—like Star Wars shit, and the universe just handed us a lightsaber. I’m saying this concussion is our Vulcan ears, baby! Let’s fuck!” “Falcon ears? What are you talking about? Honey, I really think you ought to get this checked. Or at least go home to your wife, because—won’t she be worried?” I shrug. I look at my watch. “Okay”, I say, “so what you’re saying is she won’t believe I’ve been in a coma— fine. But what if I was to tell her that I fell into a fugue state, just for the weekend? You know the way that Walter does, in season two of Breaking Bad? She loves that show. It’s crazy. You know the way he takes his trousers, folds them over a hanger? And the way he shaves his head and cuts the crusts off of his sandwiches? She says it’s the best comedy on television. Now unzip your jeans and make this stethoscope a dick.” From the moment I first met my husband, I knew he was someone special. He was balanced on his head, riding a unicycle, pedalling towards me with his hands. Next morning, he kissed my cheek and said, “Baby, I’m going to scramble you an omelette.” It was only when we were married, years later, and I found his bag of sex stuff


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Stephen O’Toole & Yun Jin

and some stethoscopes, that I realised he’d been wrong all along. Maybe, I thought, as I pushed the bag back into the cupboard and out of sight, maybe I should have corrected him. “Since when do you scramble an omelette?”, I might have said. “The most you do is wait and fold the edges in, you dummy, because otherwise you’ll only mess it up, over and over, until all that’s left is something that nobody asked for.” But at the time I didn’t think. I followed him. He led me into the kitchen and sat me down. A whoopee cushion went off where my butt was. “You fart-breaker”, he said, and then he winked at me. I suddenly understood how I should be to him, which amazingly, for the first time in my life, was exactly how I was. He wanted a clown, a joker, just like him. Someone he could play-act with. Someone who’d crack him up. I said, “Did you ever know that I’m your hero?” “No”, he said, “I did not. Please tell me more.” “Well, I am the wind beneath your wings.” He took a crystal ball out of a box he’d put on the counter, cracked it open and poured it into a frying pan. “Your omelette”, he said, easing it into a cup and being beautiful. “If you eat it, it predicts your future. So, look: we’ll be okay, I think. Won’t we?” I melted then. And so did he. Him into me, me into him. Two ice cubes fished from life’s long vodka. We’d been dropped, side by side, into an ashtray, leaned in close together and slowly lost ourselves. A little puddle for littler things to swim in, that’s what love is, that’s what we were—and before you interrupt me, yes, there are no straws in this metaphor, because straws, if you’d just think about it, would only lead to the total absence of love in this tall glass universe; life would just keep sucking up around them, ‘til all that’s left is a bunch of little cool solo blockheads, buoyed up by the last dregs of alcohol, and ice-olated’s too obvious a pun. But anyway. Where was I? Yes. Ashtray, I’d said, because he’d left the pan on the burner, and smoke from the tinselly insides of the crystal ball was quickly filling the kitchen up. “I see it all so clearly now”, I said. The future, I mean. “I’m not a superstitious man”, he explained. “I’m just a man who’s standing here in front of you, so sure of our future together that he’s going to take this crystal ball and throw it out of the window.” I should have thought, That does sound superstitious, though. And also, how many crystal balls does he have if this is another? Maybe I should have asked him if he’s ever done this before, for any other girls. But instead, because I said nothing, he sent it sailing, through the window and into the garden, where it landed in a pond and sort of bobbed there. “Clairbuoyancy”, I said.


48

Quack


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Stephen O’Toole & Yun Jin


50

Quack

And then he married me. By morning, the bump on my head feels a hell of a lot bigger. I poke it in the mirror and I think of all the ducks I’ve whacked, telling girls I loved them. In hindsight, I guess I should have had the pond bricked over. But then, I didn’t own the pond. I’d have had to have gone to the tenant’s board, put in a request, and they’d have asked, quite naturally, you know, why I had to keep lobbing crystal balls from my kitchen window. One duck comes back to me in particular. I’d went down to dispose of it, while the girl was in the shower. It was lying there, the duck, with a lump growing out the side of its side, at a jaunty, classy angle like a beret on a French person. Ooh la la, I’d said. A joke. That’s all. But maybe I went too far dissing that duck. I carry my bump back into the bedroom, bend over and let my doctor see the difference. “Look,” I say. “It’s karma. I wasn’t kidding.” “Yeuch”, she says. “The size of it. I told you you should go and get it checked.” “You’re not a real doctor, though.” “I know, and that’s another thing I told you. It’s gone all green and purple.” “The very same colours as the mallard!”, I gasp. “What mallard?” “Just tell me, baby, honestly—does it look like Frenchman’s beret?” “The mallard?” “No, the bump, you idiot.” “You know what? Get out of my house. I’m done here.” So I go. Decide to spend the two days of fugue that I have left inside a Travelodge, hiding. “I’m sorry, sir, but all our rooms have windows.” “Okay. Fine. Whatever. I guess I can unplug the telephone instead.” “We’d ask you not to tamper with any items in the room, sir.” “Tamper? Who’s—forget it. Just give me one of those Do Not Disturb signs.” I meditate, I masturbate, cross legged on the bed. Of course, for the sake of the fugue state, I have to always be naked the way that Mr Walter White was, so both the thinking and jerking it go, I have to say, pretty smoothly. Constantly too, because I’m mainly just looking down and thinking, When will it get hard again? In one of these breaks is when it comes to me. There’s only one way to fix my karma. I need to buy a new bird and murder it. On purpose, though, this time. In the first place I ask, they’ve ran out of ducks. The second place, they don’t know what a fugue state is. To their credit, though, you know, once I’ve explained Breaking Bad in detail, they’re happy to give me a seat while they go prepare the mallard. They even phone my wife to come and collect me.


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Stephen O’Toole & Yun Jin

I bet if she could see me now, I think, nude except for a blanket in the back room of a pet store, I bet she’d look me up and down say, Two stones, one bird? Or else, I don’t know, maybe she’d say a hand inside the bush thing instead. She was always better at all of this than me. A wife walks into a pet store. Ouch. I suppose she ought to have ducked. Knock knock. Who’s there? The man I loved once. It looks like he’s on drugs. You know: quack. And don’t even get me started on the hospital costs. It’s a shame that ducks have such big bills. Driving home, a policeman stops our car. “Hey”, he says, “you can’t just drive around with a duck. You need to take that animal to the zoo.” Next week, he sees us again. He pulls us over. “I thought you were going to take that duck to the zoo”, he says. “Sure”, I say. “I did. We had such a great time we’re going again tomorrow.” Just kidding. I mean, you have to laugh. It’s all a horrible joke.


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Writer

KERRY GIANGRANDE is a 28 year old poet-elf from Brooklyn, NY currently living in the catskill mountains maniacally writing things down and reading too many books. She has been published in numerous literary magazines and websites and plans to publish a novel and a collection of poems. She wears things inside out.


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Artist

LIANA YANG is rarely motivated by direct beauty, but rather by the aesthetics of social and sociological interactions. She is drawn to the trivialities and oddities that we encounter in our daily experiences. This includes the enigmatic and unseen aspects of relationships, as well as explorations of memory and associations in our contemporary culture. Her methodologies usually employ sex as the starting point, and involve subversions with sexual references and objectification. Her works have been showcased at institutions and festivals in Singapore, Asia and Europe.


outside

inside,

56 Galavant


57

Issue Nº 3—Crack

sam hi sam i’ve been thinking i am smoking a cigarette and i’m wondering. i know you know this kind. and okay i know it’s hard but i’m just the opposite of any sort of expert when it comes to the differences between imagination and reality and i need to know some things concerning the latter. sam i’ve been forever wondering what really went on. i’ve been having so much trouble recalling.


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inside, outside


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Kerry Giangrande & Liana Yang

i know that you and the calander and the pakistani motel manager all know i was there and i believe you sam, i know you’d never lie to me. i just don’t remember, is all. and it’s not like i was exceptionally fucked up, it’s not that kind of loss of memory. you didn’t drink then sam, so i got on without it somehow, but it still remains this moving blur without any sound. meeting you at port authority, with your two bags draped over your shoulders like a soldier, it just begged for a very strong buzz, and yet, i was there, sober as a nun. so they say.


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inside, outside


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Kerry Giangrande & Liana Yang

before you showed up i was trying to coax a pigeon stuck inside the building back to its outside world. it was very afraid and unaware of the techniques and the systems of its entrapment. i tried to tell this bird that it would probably die here, in this tourist packed station with this stale french fry smell, it will surely get swept up and dumped in a large garbage by a disgruntled janitor and that’ll be that. you street-dove, you overlooked lovely grey city creature. it could not fathom the transference: inside, outside, inside, outside. it waddled about frantically.


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inside, outside


63

Kerry Giangrande & Liana Yang

sam, when our eyes made their inevitable contact you dropped your bags at the top of the escalator and i walked over to you. you put your arms around me. we stayed like that for a long time. what were we possibly thinking there, right then? that these things happened? just like that?


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inside, outside


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Kerry Giangrande & Liana Yang

sam, i think, we were very good liars. proficient storytellers. it’s what brought us together, it’s what convinced our lives to stumble and collide. i simply cannot remember what we even thought we believed in. we walked all over that day. we passed by a dive bar the size of a walk in closet and mumbled for an awkward fifteen minutes about whether or not to go inside, we were two infants. i mean, we’ve aged centuries since then, sam. i know i have aged centuries.


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inside, outside


67

Kerry Giangrande & Liana Yang

i ordered a heineken and we carried on with our sticky, rattling conversation amongst grumpy white collar workers, old men with faces like stubbled broken gravel. me in some cowboy boots and you in your converse sneakers. you had read all my poems. you brought me to a sketchy motel in sheepshead bay. i remember we talked nonstop but the memory of it is so distant, like watching animals communicate in a way that you’re very aware of but could never comprehend. you gave me a mix cd you made, you drew little hearts on the front cover. you kissed me on the mouth, like a stranger would do it. we leaned against a tall brown wardrobe, chipped and peeling in all the wrong places. you took your shoes off, like you knew me, i thought: “impossible.” the reality of your socks and your shoes by the bed was astounding. i thought about your old lovers and mine, not far away enough to call exes. they were home doing the things they usually did and we were in this motel room in sheepshead bay looking for answers to questions we thought we were sure of the answers to already. pretending the answers weren’t already lurking around. i liked you sam, really. i liked your dark eyes and their dancy lashes, i liked your hands and your pet names. it wasn’t a lack of love, it was a misplaced sentence, and i was becoming so greedy for good grammar and when those corny bastards talk about life and timing, they’re not far off, sam. i reminded myself not to fuck you, no matter how easy it’d be, no matter how little everything made sense. i said in my head sex won’t fix the shaking questions or start any fires and it will not make love. people forget this sort of thing from time to time, i know i have, its hard, sam, you know? like people that have to actually try to live without the comforting glare of a television in a room to make them feel less alone. we didn’t want it to be true but it was, gleaming off the edges of knives the way truth does. it wasn’t a pretty slow dance or moving a body with a body to a beat that knows you both well, fast and skin to skin, it wasn’t a four man band and it wasn’t a duo. what was it. is my question.


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inside, outside


69

Kerry Giangrande & Liana Yang

sam, smoke a cigarette, drink some water, have a beer, listen to this song. sam, please. you fell asleep with your clothes on in the motel bed and i kept my computer on with a specific song playing on repeat to either soothe or show up or encunciate some specific feeling. what was i feeling, sam. what song was it. you will tell me. sam at some point, in between years and words i swore i’d never use a name in any story or any poem but i lied. i lied, sam. i’m still lying.


70

Writer

JAKE DENNIS is a jazz singer and poet published in Art Monthly Australia, Cordite, The Disappearing App, Landscapes, Lost Coast Review USA, Poetry NZ, Structo UK, and Voiceworks. He has poems forthcoming in in Brief, Short and Sweet, Social Alternatives, and The Stars Like Sand and last year released his first original song, “Like Blown Smoke,” on Amazon.com, iTunes, and Triple J Unearthed. He is a Curtin University graduate who works in UWA’s New Approaches to Teaching Team, developing e-learning content and training staff in new technologies.


71

Artist

ALEXIS VASILIKOS (b. 1977) is an Athens-based Greek photographer. His work explores the sublime in everyday life, focusing on little details and snippets of narrative that appear apparent, but invisible at the same time. He currently co-edits Phases Magazine with Jerome Montagne.


kill

Galavant

Road

72


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Issue Nº 3—Crack


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Road Kill


75

Jake Dennis & Alexis Vasilikos


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77


78

Road Kill

Sprawled across the road: ghostly shells of the people who roamed here. Feet broken by tyres, skulls crushed like snails. Stomachs, popped pink balloons, a foetus split. There, a hand for a pillow, the warm bitumen wet with spit. Without a storybook mother to cover them with blankets, without milk, or a nurse with hospital sheets, they may have fallen, like children collapsing to sleep blood soaked with local beer. “Road kill,” a co-worker says, “another period in the novel of the road.” But in a poem, lives stopped deserve attention. For they may have fallen as we have fallen on suburban lawns or inner-city sidewalks neon-lit with friends or family to protect us. The damper bread moon of the Northern Territory cracks then fades as dawn overtakes the sky ‘til morning presents, like a cultural tumour, another then another human mutilated by wheels and the metal tonnage of trucks.


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Jake Dennis & Alexis Vasilikos


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Road Kill


81

Jake Dennis & Alexis Vasilikos

Their skin dries like the bark of felled trees on this industrial highway we cross. They haunt the local map, the endless highways of our minds; across the sunlit road, bodies preserved with alcohol, ghostly, human.


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Writer

ALICE ASH is the author of the illustrated short story collection *The Woman* and is currently directing a short film based on this story, “Doctor Sharpe�. Alice is the creator of FEMMEUARY!, a collaborative feminist blog and has lectured on the subject of sexuality in the digital age and on female identity. She lives in Brighton, U.K.


85

Artist

LIU LILING experiments with multiple mediums and her current focus is on creating surfaces, textures and mark making. She works with both raw and ready-made materials to recreate tactile qualities as her form of aesthetic on her canvases and draws upon her surrounding for colour inspiration. She also likes Damien Rice and cats.


Doctor

Sharpe

Sharpe

86 Galavant


87

Issue Nº 3—Crack

“I’ll see you soon,” I said. A heartbeat. “Let’s hope not,” said Doctor Omera Sharpe. He smiled even though my throat had closed up and my eyes were filling with tears. “I mean, we don’t want any more accidents do we? We don’t want you hurting yourself Rose.” That was the first time he ever said my name and I marked it off in my diary as a turning point. I wrote: “today Doctor Omera Sharpe said my name. This marks a direct change in my life.”


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Doctor Sharpe


89

Alice Ash & Liu Liling

I would have written more but the box for the 22nd May 2013 was too small so I just drew a small black heart in the top right hand corner and then I drew another one in the left corner. One is mine and one is his. Doctor Omera Sharpe has pictures of naked women on his computer. I know this because I went into the clinic the other day and we talked. He said, “what are your symptoms this time Rose?” This was the second time that he had ever said my name but I didn’t mark it in my diary because of what happened next. I said, “well, I have been getting dizzy and hot and I have some marks on my thigh area. They are like faint welts.” Doctor Omera Sharpe said, “Okay, could you get onto the bed for me please?” He said it quite tersely because he was worried about being tempted by my body again. “Are you feeling dizzy right now?” he said. He came closer and I said, “Oh yes Doctor, I feel dizzy and hot, so hot.” He looked at me and I let my mouth open slightly. I was wearing dark-red lipstick. “Could you show me the welts please?” “Yes,” I said. I struggled with my jeans and did actually start to feel really quite hot. “Sometimes they disappear though,” I said. “Sometimes they are here other times they are not.” I was wearing my very best panties, they are white lace with a bow, but he didn’t look at them he just looked at my thighs. The Doctor was transfixed by my thighs. I smiled to myself because I have to admit I was surprised that he found them so enticing. I have quite a lot of cellulite and a few moles. Doctor Omera Sharpe smoothed my thighs and massaged them; he pinched my flesh between his fingers. Finally he said, “It doesn’t look like there are any welts here.” “Why don’t we wait a little bit longer Doctor, they tend to come back every five to ten minutes.” “Could you bear with me for a moment?” he said. I said, “sure” and smiled at him. While he was gone I felt his office come alive around me, his brown swivel chair, his stethoscope on the desk; tiny flecks of pale yellow ear wax on the rubber buds, his pens and pencils, some of the ends chewed; the blue head of a biro gnawed into a point. And then I looked at his computer and the mouse and the keyboard, all of which were grubby from the times that Doctor Omera Sharpe had rubbed them and touched them with his fingers. My heartbeat quickened when I realized that somewhere on the computer there was a file that was labeled Rose Durrell and that in that folder were details about me, that he had written,


90

Doctor Sharpe

there might even be details about love; possibly. At least, in the computer I might find an answer as to why Doctor Omera Sharpe continuously flirts with me, an answer as to why Doctor Omera Sharpe will not supply me with the blue tablets anymore. What does Doctor Omera Sharpe mean when he says that I need to see a different type of doctor too? I got up off of the bed and pulled up my jeans. I didn’t do up the button in case he came back in and I had to quickly pull them down again and jump back onto the bed. I am quite used to using the computer because I have been a member of several dating sites and had to write my profile information (I said that I was interested in reading, gardening and helping endangered animals when really my interests are television, eating and sex.) But anyway, it was to my advantage now because I managed to flick through all his files quickly. Doctor Omera Sharpe had a very complicated system. I tried to think like him, to unpick the difficult names of the little yellow folders, “spinal- Sussex 060693.” I didn’t panic, I felt the warmth of his hands on my thighs, his breath on my ear and amongst it all I found one, ‘girls’ it said. Of course I clicked, after all I am a girl. But inside the folder there were just miniature women in thumbnail, with their legs spread open and their heads back, eyes closed; ecstasy. I scrolled through the miniature women quickly, using my left hand to stop my right from shaking too much to hold the mouse. The women were mostly brunette, with fair skin, I bit my lip as the realization hit me, they were thick set, they wore white underwear, they all looked like… They looked like me. I leapt backwards and knocked the chair- it skittered across the floor like an octopus. “Oh good,” said Doctor Omera Sharpe, “you’re dressed.” I understood that this was a sensitive moment for him and so I just said, “yes.” “Well, surgery is closing in five minutes.” He looked at me. “But please do come back if the welts reappear.” “Oh, I will,” I said. Driving home I stopped at a set of lights. It had begun to rain and I looked at a fly that was caught and drowning where the bonnet met the windscreen. I realized that Doctor Omera Sharpe had been locked in a psychological prison, fantasizing about me constantly. The thought made me feel awful and I stopped at a garage to buy a multi-pack of crisps. But then when I got home the living room didn’t feel so lonely, the kitchen suddenly had character, the dead flowers on the side in the hallway looked romantic- like forbidden love. I was surprised when I called the surgery the next day. The receptionist answered, there was nothing unusual about that.


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Alice Ash & Liu Liling

“Hello”, she said. (She has blonde hair and she wears it in two plaits and acts like a little girl but also wears short skirts. I know why that is.) “Hello,” I said tersely. “Oh, it’s Mrs. Durrell isn’t it? Oh…” The receptionist covered the receiver with her hand but I could hear her twittering to someone else who was obviously there. I wondered who it was, whether perhaps Doctor Omera Sharpe had asked her to forward my calls directly to his office. “Mrs. Durrell? Are you there?” “Yes,” I said. “I’m not going anywhere, my legs are covered in enormous welts.” “Oh,” she said. She cleared her throat as though it was full of sharp blades. “I have been asked to tell you Mrs. Durrell, I have been asked to tell you that Doctor Sharpe can’t see you anymore. He would like to advise you that you need to see a different kind of Doctor.” She covered the receiver again. I imagined her neat red nails. “Hello,” she said. “Hello,” I said. “You shouldn’t come here anymore. We know you don’t have welts on your legs. This is just a small surgery. We’ve got lots of people to see. You need to see a different kind of Doctor, one that can help you, you know, mentally.” She paused. “Hello?” she said. “Hello,” I said. “Doctor Sharpe has sent out a letter Mrs. Durrell. I have to go now.” Eastenders was on the television so I watched that for a while but then when it finished there was nothing left for me to do but sob in the shower while cascades of water ran out of my eyes and over my enormous body. The next few days were very difficult but I quickly realized that I had to find an excuse to get into the surgery, to see Omera. I needed to make myself sick, and fast. I wondered if it was possible to infect yourself with cancer and found lots of places on the Internet that said you could and gave lists of foods and drinks and products that would do just that. So I did an online ASDA shop for almost all of the things on the list (apart from green olives and dark chocolate because these are foods that I absolutely hate and will only resort to if things were to get really desperate.) I also ordered five packets of cigarettes. When the delivery arrived the young boy who rang the bell looked rather


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Doctor Sharpe


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Alice Ash & Liu Liling

worried. He was red in the face. “Don’t worry,” I said, “I’m trying to get cancer.” He walked away quite slowly. I ate all the food in the first few days and smoked the cigarettes over the next week. It wasn’t as easy as you might think for someone who has never smoked in her whole life. But then I realized that it would probably take a very long time to give myself cancer, probably longer than Doctor Omera Sharpe would remain in love with me. I sat opposite the curtains on a stool with one eye staring out of the crack between them. Outside the concrete was apricot in the dusk, the shouting of little boys and girls, thwacks of footballs, an ice-cream van, nobody came and nobody went, the telephone did not ring. Omera, I thought, where are you? All day long I watched the television or stared out of the window. I usually take care of myself but now I forgot to eat. I didn’t miss the food and when my selection box of cakes went hard and the icing began to crack like an old foot I did not feel sad. I only felt lonely. Sandra who used to call by and talk to me about lipsticks and what eye shadows suited me the most stopped coming now. She couldn’t have picked a worse time but she must have found another job. Even though I never bought anything from her I missed talking to her and looking in amazement at the parrots that dangled from her ears. It was later that week that I took my bath and the neighbours were playing very loud music and I thought again, Omera. Omera Sharpe. And then suddenly as if from nowhere I realized, Omera Sharpe, Sharpe, sharp and I jumped out of the bath and nearly fell down the stairs running to the kitchen to open up all the drawers and line up the utensils like a little hopeful army on the kitchen worktop Outside everyone in the world was the same and the sky was dark for so many hours but inside the blood was thick and heavy. It was difficult to drive, that is all I am saying. I am not one to complain, I rarely grumble. But it was difficult to drive because I had made several incisions on my hands and this made holding the wheel very painful. Making the sharp turns left and right that the journey required stretched the wounds open wide. Also, my face was covered with wounds and blood kept running from my forehead over my eyebrows and around my eyes. And I could smell it, which is really horrible and bad, actually. It smelt like an abattoir in my little car. But I didn’t care. Even when I was creating the incisions I didn’t even feel them, not really. I just thought of Omera.


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Doctor Sharpe


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Alice Ash & Liu Liling

And when I arrived, when I pulled into the car park I was delighted because there was a space next to his car, his dark blue, royal blue, his Audi. At Reception the Receptionist sat, as usual, stacking appointment cards and when she saw me her jaw dropped open but I just said tersely, “I would like to see the Doctor, please.” “You…” she said. She seemed lost for words but I started to worry that she was angry about the red stain that I had left behind me but then I thought, I can’t help that! I’m critically ill and I said again, “I want to see the Doctor, please.” “I think she’d better see the Doctor. Look at her arms! And her face! Her cheek is coming away!” said an old woman who was sat in the waiting room, holding a trembling copy of Gardener’s World. “Thank you!” I said and turned around to beam at the woman but then I realized that my cheek really was coming away and I took off my rain hat to hold it against my face. It wasn’t that I was impatient but every moment that I was not with the Doctor was agony. “Mrs. Durrell. This is the last time you will see the Doctor. Mrs. Durrell, what have you done?” “Get me to the Doctor,” I said simply. The Receptionist pressed a red button with her red fingernail and spoke, “Doctor Sharpe, we have an emergency out here. Could you come here please? Doctor Sharpe?” But before she had even stopped talking the saloon doors of his surgery room opened and he was there, a silhouette against the bright synthetic light. “Jesus Christ,” he said. And I thought, yes, you are, you are Jesus Christ. “I’ll get a wheelchair,” he said. And he did and he put me down, not altogether gently because of the stress that he was under seeing me like this. When we were alone together he gave me an injection and I slept. The last thing I saw was his face and the last thing I heard was, “fucking hell” but those curse words sounded so beautiful to me because, because it meant Doctor Omera Sharpe, it meant he cared about me. After I came round the Doctor seemed even less calm and collected than he was before. He had finished stitching my wounds and I looked with wide eyes at my hands, which were filled with tiny little bits of string. “You’ve done an excellent job Doctor,” I said. “Mrs. Durrell,” said the Doctor in reply, “I want you to listen very carefully. Look in the mirror.”


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Alice Ash & Liu Liling

He held up an oval shaped mirror, which framed my face in white plastic. “You have ruined yourself. You have destroyed your life. These scars will never heal.” “What do you mean?” I said, “I needed to see you. I needed to talk to you… You can’t stop loving me because of a few scars.” I tried to laugh but the stitches in my lips and around my mouth strained horribly. “Surely, you must love me for more than my looks.” The Doctor cleared his throat impatiently. “I do not love you Mrs. Durrell,” he said, “you are not to come here again. If you come here I will call the police.” As I drove home that evening I watched myself in the rear-view mirror. It was very dangerous but I really barely looked at the road. I thought of my old face, the face that a fine Doctor had loved, the face that he had dreamt of. My stranger’s mouth turned downwards and upward at the same time. The split lip had been sewn but still separated. Doctor Omera Sharpe had not done an excellent job. The next day I phoned my mother for the first time in seven years. “I met a man, mother. I thought I had fallen in love. But it turned out, you know, it turned out that he was completely shallow. He only wanted me for my looks, he wanted my body. It’s only lucky that I found out in time mother, you always told me…” The answer machine cut me off but I listened to the dial tone for several seconds, looking at my broken face in the hallway mirror and smiling with my jagged lips.


98

Writer

SOPHIE OVERETT is an Australian cultural producer and writer of fiction and nonfiction. Her work has been published in print and online at Voiceworks, Regime, Seizure, the Sleepers Almanac No. 9 and more. In 2014, she was the recipient of the Young Writer in Residence fellowship at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre.


99

Artist

JACK DAVISON (b. 1990) is a London-based portrait and documentary photographer. He studied English Literature at Warwick University but spent most of the time mucking around with cameras.


Down the

Barrel

100 Galavant


101

Issue Nº 3—Crack


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She says, “I could take you on a walking tour of my scars,” and props two of her fingers up like legs, wanders them down the naked line of her side. They stop dead at her hip where a scar runs deep, ragged and ugly. “Stabbed on a mission in Bali. The guy was aiming higher or maybe lower, I don’t know. I got him here,” she taps the pale skin between her full, dark eyebrows. “I am fucking good at my job.” He tilts his head—lips parted—and runs the flat of his thumb over the scar at her hip. Says, “Christ,” and she just smiles back, thin and smooth like the peel of a fruit. Tonight, The Partner is Albion. “Like the place,” he says. “You know the one.” “The island or the ideal?” Albion grins with a mouth full of perfect teeth. The chip he got on his incisor from the last mission has been capped and filed down into invisibility. Albion continues checking shells, rolling suppressors onto handguns; his legs crossed beneath him are bare on the motel bed. He is broad-shouldered and long-shadowed in the lamp light, and she thinks she could sketch his outline into the pastelcoloured wall if he’d sit still long enough. “Are you going to do your hair?” he asks. In front of him is a small box full of torpedo-shaped bullets, long, lean and dull in the evening. She knows the shape too well, can feel them between her fingers, hear the hiss they’ll make in the air when she shoots them. There’s a lump in her throat in the shape of one and she swallows it down hard. Overnight, she dyes her hair a thick, violent red and it stains the back of her neck like the blood will mark her hands by the end of this mission. The Civilian is only ever The Civilian. This is important. He thinks she’s an accountant from Chicago because that’s what she told him and he never thought to question it. She is in his bed tonight, twisting her long, runner legs in the sheets. He comments on the thin, strong muscles of her back, and she shrugs and says, “That’s what a few years of yoga will do for you.” She thinks about running, about dodging bullets, about hiding in cramped lofts and air ducts, standing so still and so tense. Warrior One position, ladies. He grins, jokes about not having the flexibility and runs a hand back through his hair. It makes the strands stand up at angles and she resists the urge to flatten it. He is not The Partner, he’s not her, he is a small town boy from Colorado who designs websites for petroleum companies. He wants to be a game designer, she knows because he told her and there is never a need for him to lie.


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Earlier, he had burnt the dinner he was trying to cook for her and she had eaten it anyway, the charcoal in her mouth like the ash from the fires she’s survived. She manages it because The Civilian grins wide and oh-so-sweet and afterwards lays kisses up her neck far more gently than she deserves. She thinks of this now as she leaves his apartment. The chase has already found its way back into her unsteady legs, the ache at her trigger finger. He had asked when he’d see her again, and she’d said soon, instead of I don’t know. There is an identity waiting for her in a postbox or an unused phone booth, in a gym locker or scribbled onto the underside of a coaster. She will leave this her behind and slip into another woman, a better one. When she meets The Partner he has an eye patch to cover the hollow where his eye was cut out, and his arm is in a sling. He has* yet to get his glass eye but he is still handsome in a discreet way. Well-toned, but not too much, with pointed features and cheekbones you’d want to graze bullets on. His eye is a dark, shit brown, his skin a fairer shade of it. He is painfully, cripplingly young. She takes one look at him and asks for a transfer. “No,” The Captain says. “This is it.” “I am not a babysitter,” she hisses, and The Captain shrugs. The Captain is a big man, has been since boyhood, and he is immune to her for all the reasons he hired her: her jutting collarbone, her full breasts. Her slipping hourglass. She’s been on solo missions since she started, treading into hostile areas on intelligence collection in heels and low-cut tops. She can seduce anything out of anyone, she tells them both, and kill the fucker after in a way that would take weeks for anyone to notice. The Partner, with his pirate eye and his broken arm, grins, says, “I’d believe that.” She is cold as steel. “Don’t forget it.” The Target today is a bald, lean man with a wide gait. He’s wearing a thin-rimmed pair of aviator sunglasses and alligator skinned boots. She rolls the suppressor onto her gun and tees him up wondering loosely, blindly, if she could get this bullet through the bridge of his sunglasses. “What did he do?” The Partner asks over her shoulder. He looks nervous, a line of sweat catching in the stubble above his lip. Below, The Target is on his cell, his gestures wild and his back rigid. She steadies her arm. “It’s not our job to know,” she tells him, and the second The Target hangs up she puts a bullet through his skull.


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The Partner grows up quickly, because they all do. His aim becomes almost as steady as her own and on his worst days, he is reliable. Their transfers are taken up easily and he never misses an identity change or a target. He is a quick healer and a quicker shot, but she is careful to ensure that she is always the quickest. The Civilian tells her about growing up in the suburbs. About riding his bike with his brothers through the parks and dodging ducks and deer and great, loping dogs around Bonny Lake. He talks about first kisses in high school and studying IT in college. About the parties he’d gone to and the women he’d fallen half in love with. He talks about first jobs in electronics stores and fuckwit bosses who’d underpaid him. Friends he’s still in touch with, the ones he’s not. Whenever he does this, she watches the line of his neck, the way he cracks his knuckles, bites his lip. She thinks about flick knives and frothing mouths. Toxic bodies. When he’s done telling her, he just grins with all his blunt, crooked teeth, and she wonders what scars they’ll leave on her when this thing is over. She and The Partner fuck the first time during a riot in East Timor because it’s inevitable. The yells of the people are louder than the bullets, than the sound of shells and bodies hitting the ground. Doors are being knocked down and through and there is glass everywhere. They steal in through a broken window of a grocery store, where looters have already stripped the shelves and the till. The Partner grips her wrist and gets them into the storeroom, gives the room a once over before working a chair beneath the handle, trapping them in. It’s empty, and they stand there before the other with their dead faces and their hearts in their throats and then he kisses her and fucks her against the shelves which leave their indents on her back. She leans further into them until it hurts, until the cold metal cuts her up like a grill. The Partner’s breath is hot in her ear and he’s whispering words he shouldn’t into the shell of it, like they are children telling secrets and somehow less than what they are. She scratches up his back like an animal, like the coyotes that would steal chickens on the farm she grew up on. Like the rabid-eyed possums she’d shot as a teenager and between his groans and dumb whispers she wonders if he will ever have the balls to shoot her. He won’t. The Civilian’s face is open like a wound and she can see the way he loves her in every ooze and word and fold of skin. Every wrinkle at the corner of his eyes and the lines his cheeks make when he smiles too hard, too often. She shows The Target her scars because he doesn’t know her and this will hurt no one.


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“This one’s from my sister,” she tells him. “Our neighbour was this pretty boy with quick, lean hands and he put them up my dress at church one day when I was fourteen, and my sister wanted them up hers. He gripped my thigh so tight and there was this vein in her neck which I knew from fighting over dolls and dresses when we were even smaller, but I hadn’t cared then and I don’t care now. We fought later though, hence...” She taps the scar on her chest again, just above her breast, which sits like a swell in the sea of her. The Target never takes his eyes off the scar, the jagged thing, and then presses his hot lips to it. His moustache scratches up her skin, leaving tiny, dense marks that scatter her tanned flesh like a rash. His teeth are sharp, and his head is full of things she’ll get out of him before the night is up. After she’s killed him, she goes back to the motel where The Partner pulls off her dress and kisses that same stupid scar with his own soft lips and says, “Like you ever played with dolls.” “Aren’t you ever lonely?” He asks her later. He does this honestly, with a human eye like a used coffee mug, empty but with the dregs still sloshing around the bottom, too dark and bitter. Grainy. His glass eye looks like it always does. She could tell him—she could be honest—she could say— She doesn’t say a word. The Captain lines them up a mission and stresses its Importance With Emphasis. “Must be a good one,” The Partner tells her, his grin wide. His glass eye rolls a little and he pushes it back into place. He will be surveillance on this one, and she steals up the back of some ritzy hotel on an island somewhere in Eastern Europe full of tourists. “Room 305,” The Partner says through the comm in her ear. She nods, pulls out a thin, perfect shaped laser from the pack at her thigh, jimmys the lock and kicks that door open. There are four, broad-shouldered, thick-limbed security guards that she shoots individually, sparing five bullets between them. The Target sits behind them, slight and sweet and a little girl. She can’t be more than fourteen. Jesus, she thinks, but chases the thought before it gets any further. “Just do it,” The Partner hisses in her ear, his voice distorted with static through the line. He has heard her hesitation. She swears to herself again. The girl is watching her with baby browns, her nose smattered with freckles and pimples. She has coloured braces that are cemented to her teeth. The girl does not say a word. “I will make this as painless as possible,” she tells her, and the girl nods. The girl closes her eyes and the woman shoots her between them. Running out of the building, she remembers hunting rabbits with her dad


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when she was The Target’s age, decapitating snakes with blunt-ended shovels. The farm had seemed endless on those nights, like a wild thing from stories her mother had told her. She remembers the way the ground had looked, its earth torn up from the hooves of cattle and the redistribution of crops. The corn would swing long in the cold and sit ramrod straight in the stagnant summers, and she’d steal between their stems like an animal. She remembers the first time she’d held a rifle, her dad behind her, his breath hot down the back of her neck as he’d eased her arm into the shot. It had been a hare with fat legs and a thick face, pushing down its ears and cleaning them with flat paws. Her breath had hitched. So had the hare’s. She had killed it with a bullet through its animal skull and her dad behind her had pat her on her own, his hand warm and the slightest upward tug at his lips had felt like home. “Do you want to know her name?” The Partner asks her later. He’s shaving, neck pulled long, taut, his jugular visible, out like a pulled violin string and she follows it down to his exposed collarbone. She could kill him like this. He taps the razor against the porcelain sink. She lets her eyelids flutter shut, an uneasiness unfurling in her belly. Tonight, she knows that he killed four people to get her into the place, nineteen to get her out. She always counts, keeps that death toll like a prisoner counting days to release. “Why would I want to know that?” she replies and The Partner shrugs. He is good in a fight. He is not good at conflict. It doesn’t matter though, she knows what she is. He sighs, sits on the bed beside her. His shoulders are always knotted up, so much so that she can see the muscles, hard and tense and swollen beneath his skin. “I had this friend back in real time,” The Partner says, and he’s grinning now, something loose and easy. Fond. It’s out of place on his face, doesn’t fit with the guy she knows. “He couldn’t hold his booze at all, and he’d always crawl out of bed the mornings after and talk about how he felt like he didn’t fit in his skin, like a shapeshifter, like he was some prick wearing his own body instead of living in it. I can’t even imagine how he’d feel in this line of work.” There’s something in his expression that makes it look like he’s telling the truth, and she wonders if this is too close, if he’s opening himself too much to this, to her. “You could tell me something,” The Partner says finally. “Anything.” She sits up a little better, props herself on her elbows and watches the flick of his lone pupil, the brightness of his iris and opens her mouth to say I know but kisses him instead, feels him breathe against her, into her like she’s something to be trusted or wanted when she is neither. At the time, she thinks this is the closest


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she’ll ever get to making love. Someone who knows the blood on her hands and wants this anyway. There’s a case not long after that she will blame later, where The Partner’s gun is taken from him by force and he kills his assailant with a thumb through his eye. By the time she finds him he can barely talk, so consumed by the print his hands had made against the other man’s face. She spends hours trying to coax real words out of him, but he pushes her away with his hands and then spends a night begging her closer with his lips. So much that it feels like he’s trying to crawl beneath her and hide inside. Like she is some great protector and not a gun for hire. This is it, she remembers thinking, this is the end. She is finishing one of her first solo mission’s in months when The Captain calls her. “Your partner’s gone AWOL,” his voice terse down the line of the phone. “Take care of it.” He hangs up and for just an instant, her heart stops dead, chest caving in, the cage of her ribs shattering in on itself like the broken infrastructure of a house. It takes her a second to regain her breath, composure, herself. That night she loads her gun. She tracks The Partner to an apartment in Missouri, some long, narrow thing with white walls and unlocked doors. She knows he knows she’s watching him. Staking him out like one of the missions they worked together. In two days, she learns everything she needs to know, but it takes her another three to move for confrontation, spends the total five watching him live anxiously, grievously, the blood on his hands obvious in every move he makes. She wonders if she is there at all, rolling about his head, and if she is a fellow perpetrator or another victim. The apartment itself is not his own, belonging instead to a curly-haired man with a sweet face. A Civilian. The guy grins wide and laughs loud and he and The Partner grew up three streets from each other in some nameless Colorado suburb with low roads and sweet brick houses. They went to primary school together and The Civilian thinks The Partner is an entertainment lawyer working in LA. That he is married to a pretty woman trying to make it big as an actress and that they plan soon to start a family. The Civilian thinks The Partner lost an eye in mishap on a game show set, not from some thug pulling it out with his bare hands. The Partner is buried so deep in the lies that he speaks them effortlessly. This is a fact she learns on recon. She is fucking good at her job. The day she kills him, she steals into the house after The Civilian has gone to work. She makes no effort to conceal herself, but is as quiet as the sun shifting between


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them, a leftover from hunting and stealth missions. She doesn’t know how to be loud anymore. The Partner is not surprised. He looks at her with a weary eye, says, “I wondered when you’d show your face.” She is silent. The Partner is armed, a gun tucked in the inside of his slacks. There is another one taped beneath the sofa and another inside the freezer in a Tupperware container labelled Vegan Shit. She is silent until she is not. “You live with someone you know.” “I just wanted to feel like a person,” he tells her, rehearsed. “I wanted to feel like Tom, instead of everyone else, Jesus, how can you not feel that?” “You’re not Tom,” she replies. “You were never Tom and you’re dumber than I ever thought if you think you were.” She loads her gun in front of him. There’s no point in hiding it, he knows what is coming but he whips out his own now anyway, holding it in the air at her. His aim is anything but steady and it wobbles like he’s still young and this is first missions in Prague and Jakarta. “Why not? I know all their names,” Tom hisses. “Every bastard I’ve killed. All of them.” He starts saying their names like he’s speaking in tongues, each bleeding into one long, unspeakable word. It is now that she remembers The Partner’s first kill because he’s not letting go of their names like he hadn’t been able to let go of the gun after it. Like his fingers were stuck by the trigger, a plug to a socket. He’d shook and sweat and she’d felt it as she’d pried the thing from his hand hours later. She remembers the way he’d stared at her after, his lips open and his eyes desperate and searching for something that she had no capacity to provide. Still, she’d pressed a cool hand to his slack jaw, rested it there for an instant like a comfort and taken it away before he could lean into it. Coddling him would kill him. She had known this then as truth. Now, she’s not so sure. “You know how this is going to end,” she tells him, and he stares at her long, hard, his mouth still open, but empty now. Everything he should never have told her is heavy between them. She thinks about his hand on the back of her head as he’d kissed her time and time again, and then puts a bullet through his. As a girl, she had thought that blood would be a violent, vivid red. Thin and watery, like cordial or syrupy like unset icing. That it would pool like spilt milk. Now she knows better. She’s used to killing targets in the dark, with night goggles leaving everything a vague, greenish shade of unreality, but she kills The Partner – Tom – in the bright and unforgiving morning light. His blood splatters the wall behind him, leaving a streak of it against a poster of a band she doesn’t know. He’s flung back and hits the


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wall before slipping down it, turning the blood splatter into a finish line as it falls down with him. She takes one – two deep breaths before checking for a pulse at his dead neck and starting to clean up. She knows The Civilian’s name and she keeps it like a secret in the treasure chest of her head, between memories of first kisses and her mother’s smile and the noises her first human kill had made behind her as she’d thrown up her lunch and her guts and her soul on the concrete. She can protect that, she thinks. Nothing else. It’s not that taking care of The Partner hurts as such, but the grief itself leans heavy on her bones like a child at her hip. She sleeps fretfully between memories of his hands and his scars that had mirrored her own and the walking tour of them she’d taken him on when they were younger and dumber and full of purpose. Before death had made itself at home beneath the half-moons of their fingernails and laid like lice in their hair. She remembers him always, and takes to stalking his civilian friend, to see what he knows, but then to watch him grieve in ways she’s not allowed. She learns that he is a kind man then, and gets to learn it all over when she is weak and facilitates a meeting and again when they fuck the first time and again when they, months later, stop fucking and start making love. She pushes her grief and her loneliness into him, into his wide, open heart until the remains of it sleep in the cage of her chest instead of screaming at her skin, and the civilian becomes The Civilian and she loves him and she loves him and oh, Christ, she loves him. She knows someone will come for her. That her defecting for a civilian’s bed and an identity which is a lie will catch up to her and eventually she’ll feel the watching eyes of her assassin and know that a bullet through her own body is waiting or maybe poison or maybe a knife. At least The Partner had known his death would be an honest one at her hands. Sometimes she imagines her post-mortem, some mortician taking his own tour of her scars and that final one which will just be another stopover for his experienced hand. The Civilian asks her about her scars only once, and she watches him with his smooth cheeks and big green eyes and her own face blank and used up. He apologises almost instantly, without her saying a word, and he presses his lips to all the parts of her he can reach and mumbles I love you against each one. They make love then in mid-afternoon with her history written on her body in a language he won’t ever know how to read.


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Feature

CHRISTIANE BAUMGARTNER (b. 1976) is an incredible artist. Born in Leipzig, Germany, Christiane did her Masters in Printmaking at the Royal College of Art in London, before returning to her old studio in Leipzig, where she is now based. Influenced by traditional printmaking and later, digital video, in London, she makes immense images of video stills printed using largescale handmade woodcuts.


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Christiane has shown internationally and holds works in the public collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Museum der bildenden KĂźnste in Germany and the National Gallery in Australia, amongst many others.

www.christiane-baumgartner.com


Woodcut on Kozo paper Paper 260 x 350 cm/Image 236 x 326 cm Edition of 3 —

—2009

Luftbild

From a portfolio of 12 screenprints and 4 woodcuts on Arches Bütten paper Paper 47.0 x 60.0 cm/Image 39.5 x 52.5 cm (each) Edition of 25 —

Final Cut. —2006

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Woodcut on Kozo paper Paper 85 x 140cm / Image 62 x 120 cm Edition of 6 —

Himmelblau

Woodcut on Kozo paper Paper 145 x 185 cm/Image 120 x 160 cm Edition of 6 —

—2012

Manhattan Transfer —2010

All Images Courtesy of Christiane Baumgartner and Alan Cristea Gallery, London 121 Christiane Baumgartner


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Your work deals with opposite ends of image reproduction, both woodcut and the moving image. Why did you decide to do this? For several years I worked mainly in print, woodcut, etching, silkscreen and lithography. However, when I was at the Royal College of Art in London I worked with digital media, specifically video. It was at this time I became much more interested in producing smooth and cool surfaces. After finishing school in London I went back to Germany, back to my old studio in a former cotton mill and decided I should start working by hand again. In a way it felt logical for me to combine the earliest and most ancient printmaking technique with the medium of video stills to produce an image. I am reconciling these two traditions. After working so intensely with moving images, my attention was drawn to still images. One second of video is made up of 25 single frames, you see this, but do not conceive them individually. Translating the video frame into a woodcut makes the work a powerful instrument demanding an emotional, retinal and physical response. My woodcuts are handmade using a sharp knife. The element of inaccuracy or human error which may occur in this process is important to me. Do you think living through the pre and postInternet age has directly or indirectly, affected your decision on working with opposite spectrums and ultimately, influencing your artistic process? This is definitely the case. Although as an East German, who has experienced two systems I think more about, ‘before the wall came down’ and ‘after’. This is, in a way, my starting point. But it was at the same time that we began to use computers, mobile phones and the internet.

Information did speed up. We thought it would save us time but we now spend more time on the process of communication itself, and we lose time on the process of contemplation and concentration. Both Final Cut. and Himmelblau have poetic qualities to them. Tell us more about both bodies of work, and if you think there is a common thread between them. In both works I use colour. Final Cut. is a portfolio of four woodcuts and twelve silkscreens which are printed in colour and Himmelblau is almost a painting or a monoprint, as the colour was mixed on the plate during the printing process. There is a moral ambivalence to these images – their beauty contradicting the brutality of the machines that created them. This ambiguity gives the works a poetic yet disturbing quality. Having the moving image as one of your primary mediums, what are some of your favourite films? Has any one of them influenced one, or most of your work? I like movies by Andrei Tarkowsky, they have influenced me a lot. But also I love Lars von Trier and French movies, for example, Claude Chabrol, Claude Sautet or Jean-Luc Godard. How long does it take to produce one woodcut? This can take two weeks or two years, it depends on the size but also on the image. Manhattan Transfer took me ages. Earlier this year, you put out a book called White Noise. Tell us more about the book. The book deals with different perceptions of the image in my work. My work is not just about woodcuts of video stills. I use the


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“I use the medium and this technique as a tool to show the disappearance of the image in different ways”

medium and this technique as a tool to show the disappearance of the image in different ways, for instance, through speed, moiré, low resolution or structure. This is continuous throughout my work. In it you can find a catalogue raisonné of all my editioned works: prints, videos, artist books. It was quite a lot of work to complete, but an interesting process to see my development from line drawing to video and later to woodcut. Your first book, Speed/Standstill, was published in 2003. Since then and White Noise, which was published in 2014, do you think there has been any vast differences with regard to how you work, especially with how technology can grow in different trajectories in the span of a decade? I am still using horizontal lines of black and white that become grey images. I started doing this when Speed/Standstill was published. However, over time my work has become much more organic and less figurative. The earlier woodcuts are of machines and are much more recognisable than my later works, where blurred, non-figurative images force the viewer’s eye to be even more non-objective. — Interview by Dilys Ng

Christiane Baumgartner: Totentanz, an exhibition of new works is at the Alan Cristea Gallery, London

from 21 November—24 January 2015.

Baumgartner’s European touring retrospective, White Noise, is currently at the Museum

Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, until February 8, 2015.


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Galavant

CONVERSATIONS Galavant invites six of our contributors to respond to each other’s work, and to discuss their collaborative process and what this issue’s theme, Crack, means to them.


Stephen O’Toole & Alex MacDonald talk about the power of words, puns, and kiwi fruit.

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“I think words have a great power to unite people and, often, people’s words are enough to get them incarcerated. I find the idea of censored writing fascinating, mainly because I’ve only known a society where freedom of expression is encouraged (to an extent).”

Stephen: Reading your poem I had the feeling of being a bird, like I was flying, and the black lines were islands, the words the sea. What would I see if I were to land on these islands? Alex: I really like this description, another writer described them as “16-bit-like images of a naked dancer or jellyfish or an archipelago”. The poem is partly about divisions in cultures, what separates people so I think each island would differ from the next, dress senses, the smell of the air and so on. Perhaps one of the islands would be incredibly nationalistic and only notice differences of outsiders. Your piece is full of cracks—cracking jokes, broken crystal balls, cracking heads open— which of these ‘cracks’ came to your mind first?


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S: In 2007 I had a six month contract in a data entry position for a multinational bank. I had a seat by the window with the Clyde on my right, and a longish strip of the bank’s grass between the water and me. The first of the month (or thereabouts) a man would come with a hawk and frighten the seagulls away. He’d take the hawk from a cage he kept on the passenger seat of his car, then let it sort of waddle amongst the chips and bits of bread. I don’t remember it flying, but I do remember wondering what came first: the hawk or the plan to make some £££s. I decided that I needed to turn my life around, bringing either more hawks or more bright ideas into it. My first attempt to make this happen, involved eating a lot more fruit. A kiwi seemed the sort of fruit a successful person would eat; I bought the only one in the staff canteen. It sat there on my desktop for weeks. ‘It’s like a velvet egg’, I thought. I put this phrase (‘velvet egg’) in a story I never finished, then later, in a love note, I promised a girl I’d make her a kiwi omelette—by cracking it on the side of hot pan. Later still (we’re almost there), at an already fraught family dinner, a cousin’s son broke my mum’s favourite Disney snow globe. Lots and lots of crying. Finally, I finished a fucking story. A minor character in it tried to seduce the narrator by frying her the contents of a crystal ball in a pan. She wasn’t impressed—quite rightly: it’s dumb. But then, when I saw the call for ‘Crack’, I thought—oh hang on—I bet I could write something about someone who thinks that that’s somehow sweet instead of silly, while still, of course, knowing that it’s silly. Then came the idea that was the seducer’s only move, that he has a cupboard full of crystal balls for solely this purpose... What would this kind of weirdo be like?

Shibboleths are words that distinguish a group from others. If we say ‘distinguish’ could mean ‘separate’, do you think that words can help pave over these cracks, or can they only ever make things worse? A: I think words have a great power to unite people and, often, people’s words are enough to get them incarcerated. I find the idea of censored writing fascinating, mainly because I’ve only known a society where freedom of expression is encouraged (to an extent). Apart from the obvious language barriers, I find the literature of a foreign writer often helps me understand global history. I learnt a lot about the mood of post-Second World War Eastern Europe by reading Paul Celan—you think “what kind of place do you have to live in to create work like this?” Years later, when I visited Kaunas in Lithuania I got a sense of that, too: pockets of poverty right next to very affluent areas, great pride in tradition and heritage in spite of the Nazi & Soviet occupation and mass murders, austere buildings. Amazing ‘Devil Museum’, too. Humorous puns and word play runs throughout the piece, including the title, and it seems like this sense of joking around brings an anarchic nature to the narrative. Freud said the jokes let the unconscious run wild—did you have an idea of where you wanted the story to go when you wrote it originally? S: Not at all. I read a George Saunders once where the hero keeps getting ‘wonked’ on the head. So that’s where the opening came from. Then I’d decided that I wanted to switch between two narrators, to replay play events from different perspectives—I probably stole that from Who Shot Mr Burns? or something


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I knew I wanted to have both narrators be, in different ways, unreliable—he, because he’s a clown, a liar, a constant kidder on; and she, because she’s been kidding herself that he’s the one for her. After that, the ‘plot’ just came about through re-writes. I’ll often just see what happens if I take a joke or a pun really literally. Or else I’ll get fixated on a word— ’karma’ for example, figured heavily in the first draft, which ended with a section from the perspective of a person who’d been reincarnated as a bird (I know, da fuq? right?), a bird, which, later, became a duck and so on and so on. “a God of breakfasts”, a lovely line, made me think of Frank O’Hara, the God of lunch hours. Who are your Gods? A: Thanks! Right now, my Gods outside of writing are a mixture of Steve Reich, Grimes’s first album Geidi Primes, Francis Bacon and the Monkey Island video games. In terms of writing it’s Lydia Davis’s short stories, Kafka’s journals and John Ashbery’s poems. I also drink a lot of coffee and I love to eat eggs, the true God of breakfasts. What was the last good joke you heard? S: Which musical instruments sound most like Tom Jones? Trombones. I read your poem today, after a matinee of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film. What sort of similarly incongruous juxtapositions occurred when you were writing your poem? A follow up: were they fruitful? A: Originally the poem was about different people’s writing habits and how we teach children to talk, I went for a walk and saw a nursery with loads of papier-mâché faces of


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children hanging outside, which kicked the poem off. It was a beautiful winter day, blue sky, cold and crisp, my favourite weather. I took a boat ride up the Thames and found out that, as I passed Canary Wharf (financial district of London) someone committed suicide by jumping from the JP Morgan building. This must have worked its way into the final draft of the piece. I’m intrigued by the new TMNT. I remember watching the second film as a kid, The Secret of the Ooze, and finding the Shredder’s mutagenic transformation really scary. I thought it was always a shame they never managed to work the character ‘Slash’, the other mutated turtle, into the films. Also the TMNT franchise brought one of my favourite games to the Super Nintendo—Turtles through Time. Never completed it, though. Have you ever read Robert Coover? Your piece reminded me of his short stories, he is the business. S: I haven’t read any Coover, sorry (bonus pun: reading him Coover to Coover), but my understanding is he’s somewhere between Barthelme and Pynchon, and those are guys that I’ve ripped off time and time again. I guess, yes, I respond to their ‘zaniness’, their humour, but also the (punk-ish? puck-ish?) tenacity with which they will pursue an idea or set-piece, often only marginally related to ‘The Point’ far beyond the point where most other folk would just give it up, knowing that there is still more there, e.g. I guess Nothing: A Preliminary Account or the Kenosha Kid part in Gravity’s Rainbow. Also, I feel like both those writers have been dismissed too often as being ‘cold’ or ‘unfeeling’—to me, there are some Deep Ass Emotions in their work, it’s just that their angle

of approach is slightly ‘off’, like writing about the crack up of a marriage via ducks and fake fugue states? Please crtl+v (or Mac equivalent) the last text you copied onto your clipboard. Tell me, what does it mean (to you)? A: The last thing I have on my clipboard is this link http://youtu.be/JRpKbfrMvNo—which is a link to a video by the guy who made the ‘Over 9000’ meme, where he cuts up language from the first Resident Evil video game. When I first watched it, I laughed a lot and made me realise just how terrible all the voice acting was from those early games. I grew up an only child so single player video games like Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Zelda were a big part of my growing up. I’ve yet to write about them, though. I sent the link to another writer, Crispin Best, who I thought might like the nonsensical sentences like “Whoa, this sandwich is dangerous”. On your bio for New Wave Vomit, it says “Stephen O’Toole is trying again”. What are you up to at the moment? S: Trying again again. I’ve finished a bad novel since I wrote that, and I think I might have just abandoned another. But I have got a children’s book (ages 9-99), somewhere on my hard drive, that I’m happy with. In IRL terms, I’m working as a museum attendant right now, channeling that man’s hawk, from before. Music helps: Mannie Fresh, UGK, Omoide Hatoba, Carly Rae Jepsen. Maybe I’ll start buying the kiwi fruits again. —


Alex Miller & Samantha Conlon share their creative processes with each other—their muses, influences, and how to get out of a creative rut.

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the story would be different if the narrator had been a man—if readers might find him more selfish or less sympathetic. S: What’s your working process when you want to write a new piece? A: When I have an idea for a story I try to start writing it down as soon as possible. I just spit it out all at once, and then later I’ll go back and put the words in the right order. I’m much better at re-writing than I am at writing. S: What do you do to break out of a creative block? A: The thing to do when you’re blocked is to not think about being blocked. Just distract yourself for long enough and the ideas will start flowing again, just naturally.

S: What made you write in a female voice for your piece in this issue? A: From the very moment I began imagining this story I knew it would be told by a female narrator. It’s not something I spent any time debating. I started writing without a clear idea where I was headed, and as I wrote, the female voice just came out. I’m a guy, and my stories tend to be written from a male perspective because so much of what I write comes from my own experiences. But occasionally I get an idea for a story, like this one, where a female narrator just feel right from the very beginning. Now I’m wondering how

S: What’s been the most influential experience on your writing/practice so far in your life? A: I can’t think of one particular experience. Most of what I write boils down to putting people into situations, so the raw materials I work with are whatever I can remember about people I’ve known. I’m influenced by all the people who have been closest to me. S: What’s your favourite way to spend a day off? A: Ok, I’ve put a lot of effort into perfecting my perfect day, and I’ve pretty much got it down to a science. I like to sleep in until about noon, get some breakfast and then head to the beach in the early afternoon. I’ll spend a few hours there, and on the way back maybe grab a burrito or something. Then when I get home I’ll sack out on the couch until dark. Aside from working a full-time job, I don’t have as many obligations or time constraints as normal people do, so I get to have this day quite a lot.


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A: Does the work you did for this themed issue differ from your usual work? S: Yes and no, the work is much more pared down than my usual work but I tend to work with themes dealing with the lived experience of female’s so it’s sort of similar in that way. I usually respond to text in my own personal work so I found this a comfortable way to work. the colour palette and style of photos are the same too, I make a lot of pink and purple things. The work for Galavant feels a lot more innocent than my normal work, though. A: What drew you to photography over other art forms? S: I guess it’s always been with me, ever since i was young, maybe around 9, I would get my mam’s point and shoot film camera and photograph my little sister, I would put her in my clothes and get her to pose and hold certain things, it’s so strange to think back on that now as it’s the exact same thing I do now but it feels strange to think I’ve been doing it all my life. Throughout my teenage years I shot film and digital stuff of me and my friends, like most people my age did. Then when I was 17 I got a DSLR and at 18 enrolled in a photography course. Now I’m here! A: Where do you live, and what effect do you think this place has had on your work? S: I live between where I study in Cork City and where I spend some of my summers, Tipperary, in Ireland. When I go home to my mother’s house it’s very rural and I spend all my time relaxing with my dog and family, I think being there allows me to distance myself from my work and get more of a perspective on it. Also, being around my nieces and my younger sister is inspiring, I find all of them to

be muses of different sorts. My conversations with my mother are one of the most important things to me as they give me a lot of clarity and I always feel calm going away from them. I don’t see Cork as home, really, I just see it as this place where I do work, I know I won’t stay here once I graduate in 2015. It’s beautiful in autumn and I’ve had a lot of good things come from here but as a city I don’t find it that inspiring. To answer the question, I think it’s the people in the places that have more effect on my work than the actual place itself. A: What other artists have inspired you? S: Right now I am really into Nancy Spero, Sanja Ivenokic and Clunie Reed. I find a lot of young artists working online now really inspiring, my number one favourite has to be Lauren Cook, they work in a way that’s so fresh and honest. Others online that I love are Anna Crews, Shi Buffalo, Amalia Ulman, Cheyenne Sophia, Chloe Wise. Countless others! I feel I might be biased, because I’m so heavily surrounded by art due to the blogs I choose to follow and the Facebooks I choose to friend, but the art that’s being created now is super exciting. I find reading is generally more inspiring than going to shows or looking at art though for me, I recently read ‘How Should A Person Be?’ by Sheila Heti and it feels like a pivotal book for me. Right now I’m trying to get every female in my life to read it. A: What do you do for fun? S: I’m really boring. I like to go to the cinema alone, go for walks around the city, or just go for a drive with my mam somewhere. I like to travel when I can, but I’m in my final year now so mostly I just spend my time with my friend Louise in our studios freaking out about everything and/or talking about eating food/ eating food, which in it’s own way is fun. —


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The Young-girl Declares War by Samantha Conlon

All Images courtesy of the artist


An intimate discussion between Kerry Giangrande & Liana Yang on past lovers, isolation, and the solitary process of making art.

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On Sunday, 12 October 2014, 12:56AM, Kerry Giangrande wrote: bit confused. :/ On Sunday, 12 October 2014, 13:25, liana_yang wrote: hello kerry? confusion is good. On Sunday, 12 October 2014, 13:40, Kerry Giangrande wrote: so should we just jump into this? maybe we could each think up 4-5 questions the way it was suggested? and go from there? til it feels like a conversation, i guess. i really, really liked your work and i feel like we were perfectly paired. x, kerry On Sunday, 12 October 2014, 15:31, liana_yang wrote: yeh sure. we shall just go with the flow and turn this into a convo + q&a thingy. :) glad to hear that you appreciate my work. :) when dilys gave me the theme... I was thinking of the moments leading up to the tension snap. when I read your prose, it further summoned this desire. the images are the backs of my ex whom we shared a 6year relationship which ended painfully abruptly for me. I have long moved on but during the time spent together... there was always still this feeling of isolation, detachment and not really fully understanding this other person who I am supposed to know well. I found this a very curious and disturbing , and i use it a lot in my works. the old memories definitely flooded back when I read your words. what does “crack” mean to you? and what compelled you to write this piece? l.y. On Monday, 13 October 2014, 7:01PM, Kerry Giangrande wrote: as soon as i saw your work i felt so far away (yet still close to) the boy in the pictures and so close to (yet still far away from) the person capturing him. i think the isolation and detachment are so very felt in these images, in a haunting, visceral way. i completely understand, i think, the thing you’ve captured, the “not really


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fully understanding this person who i am supposed to know very well,” and it’s such a great theme. i think natalie paired us very well, i think there are several points throughout my piece that might reiterate that as well. when i was told the theme i think i thought mostly of moments as well, you said the moments leading up to the tension snap? i’m not sure if you meant before you took the pictures or before the relationship ended abruptly but both would be perfect. i thought of moments where words in a conversation had weight to them, though they might have been said quickly or offhandedly. i thought of moments where two people might not say a thing to one another but there is still a “crack” to the seconds, or motions or movements. a light but still tremendous change in the air. i wrote this piece a year or two after what’s being described took place, and i thought the moments here all felt very sudden and heavy and sharp. i was in a hotel with a boy i had only spent time with once before, someone i too thought i knew very well, but when we were finally alone, i felt so, like you said, detached. it was terrifying, almost, the way i felt so distant from a person right there, the way i felt myself so strongly, my soul almost vibrating, my heart beats felt very much like small cracks, too, colliding with nothing. the quiet empty spaces in the air between him and i were also like cracks, seams split in time. i really liked the idea of asking questions about what you might be into right now. like what you’re reading, and what albums you’ve been playing over and over? x, kerry On Monday, 13 October 2014, 9:54AM, liana_yang wrote: hey hey kerry, thank you for sharing your heartfelt thoughts. I just woke up not too long ago but I am still feeling very drowsy from the lack of sleep for the past few weeks. It’s uncanny I am mentioning sleep and here we are trying to coordinate this convo to fit each others sleeping times, and at the same time both our works got to do with “sleep” in some sense. :D Which leads me back to the theme again... ‘crack’. Initially, ‘crack’ meant something really loud and abrupt. but I was more interested in the psychological and psychological interactions that leads to the moment when everything (relationship) just suddenly snaps.


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YANG_close-up of School Girls

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visually, i saw “crack” in an almost slow motion sequence or ephemeral transitions that had amalgamated into a bloated load of tension and confusion. our pairing was actually a serendipitous one. I was not sure yet what to show when Dilys, the editor approached me if I wanted to contributed to their next edition of Galavant. when I agreed, she told me the theme and told me that I have been paired with you. When I read your words, it was immediately snap-boom! :) I will write more about bands and reads in a short while. but I would love to know what inspires you too. l.y. On Monday, 13 October 2014, 10:22AM, Kerry Giangrande wrote: haha yes, so. much. sleep. I think it’s cool that you were more interested in the psychological aspects of those moments, as a photographer, where one would hope to capture things of that nature in a photograph, which I think you did. I think those photographs perfectly depict the interactions that lead to that moment. it’s fascinating, really. when i think of “crack” how it is being used (successfully) in your works i think it translates as that “slow motion sequence” and “ethereal transition.” which i think, also, is how it feels IN the moment, too, usually. I think it’s interesting that that’s how the word hit you, while for me, as a writer, i thought more of how the words would translate that same transition and bloated load of tension. (i like that :D) i guess it’s continually interesting how different mediums express the same thought or theme or moment, in all these opposing yet beautiful inter-twined way. i think the most important thing i try to do, and what i think all artists try to do is to find a creative way to put another person somewhere else. somewhere they might have been before or not, but to create a moment for them that completely relays that experience. “inspired” is a funny word i think. but i do feel really awake (?) right now. i love october (along with every other human, probably) and i just finished Lena Dunham’s “Not That Kind of Girl” which left me all sorts of buzzed and I also just got Adam J. Kurtz’ ‘1 Page At A Time, a Daily Creative Companion’ and I find myself totally eager to fill out every day, it’s so fun. I’ve been playing a lot of God Help the Girl and Belle and Sebastian. Also lots of Dead Man’s Bones. :) I’d love to know the things that you feel inspired about, too. Take your time. x, kerry


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On Mon, Oct 14, 2014 at 2:03 AM, liana_yang wrote: oooh! Do u like Ryan Gosling too? ;) But Dead Man’s Bones is a great band nonetheless. Very October definitely. I cannot say which is my favourite month, since it’s mostly hot & humid in Singapore. But maybe Dec to Feb, when there’s X’mas, New Year and Chinese New Year. And it’s when family and friends are more or less obligated to get together to have big feasts & drinks together... Not sure if Valentine’s Day counts. I used to be mad crazy for Belle & Sebastian, and practically memorised most of their songs. But that has faded away... these days I will usually be listening to J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations or piano concertos by Rachmaninov and Chopin. Especially on long bus rides. I think it helps me to think and focus. But when I need to stay awake, it will be some hard thumping progressive trance or house mixes. I also listen to lots of Porcelain Raft, High Highs, Gem Club or anything that is streaming on my Soundcloud. These days, I am usually reading some theoretical text on photography or visual language. I must admit that I am actually a very bad reader, i.e. I can never complete a book. Sometimes I suspect that I may have dyslexia. hahaha! Hence, I do better with short stories. :) Then again, I am trying to complete The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura, Katherine Mansfield’s Something Childish But Very Natural and Foucault’s The Use of Pleasure. I am rereading ‘inside, outside’ again. It’s probably the 6th or 10th time... every word sinks deeper. I get both a good and bad feeling. A bad feeling of having that familiar sullen sensation in my stomach. A good feeling to know that your writing and my photos make sense together. I am curious to know what are the themes usually explored in your writings and/ or where I may find more of your works? I think art (regardless of medium) tries to make sense of the insanity and little bits of unseen, unexplored interactions that most folks take for granted or simply dismiss. I always try to be critical with what i do and not create something for the sake of it. I find art making a very solitary process. I do enjoy this sense of loneliness. This quiet feeling that you are almost on the brink of falling off but not really... I am feeling sleepy again...it’s 1.56am here in Singapore. I cannot think of the right words... ------


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https://soundcloud.com/gemclub/acid-and-everything --> one of the tracks I was listening to while writing back :) Best, Liana Y. On Tuesday, 14 October 2014, 3:23, Kerry Giangrande wrote: hey! YES, I love Ryan Gosling, what an incredible human. :D I didn’t realize you were in Singapore, although I should have known. That’s fantastic. I should come and live there forever. It’s cool you’re into all that, I have a playlist set of really good classical stuff and I always mean to put it on, while reading or something, to try and help with cognitive things, like you said, but I always end up putting on Bowie or the National hahaa. I do have a list of film composers instrumentals that I really, really enjoy. Like the Amelie Soundtrack and Duston O’Halloran. I also need to get my hands on that Katherine Mansfield book. I definitely understand the solitude you mentioned in terms of making art. It’s so important. I also require a lot of time alone as well, I’m so very solitary. Are you? To be honest, it’s been a little big since I’ve written. Going through a few transitions right now, health-wise and life-wise, but I’m hoping to write again daily soon. As far as themes go, I think I’m pretty much all over the place. I think I have a few styles that I find myself going back and forth with, I think I write about events or moments and then I sort of poetically (?) incorporate past/present and future events/ general emotional aspects of life. I’m having a bit of trouble putting this down into words right now. What themes do you think you explore most in your work? Besides the detached, strange feeling you explained about your past relationship? This Gem Club song is dreamy and perfect, thank you. Is there somewhere else you wish you were right now? x, kerry —


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Untitled (Crack) 2014 Dilys Ng



Alex MacDonaldUK Alex MillerUS Alexis VasilikosGR Alice AshUK Cyril WongSG Christiane BaumgartnerDE Daisy LafargeUK Jack DavisonUK Jake DennisAU Kerry GiangrandeUS Liana YangSG Liu LilingSG Samantha ConlonIE Sophie Overett AU Stephen O’TooleUK Yun JinSG

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