Page 1


If I Were You


2

The white rock that the beach had been named after was covered in so much graffiti that it was no longer white. Some spray-painted their names on it. Others carved it. Drawings, obscenities, and declarations of love all found their spot on the giant white rock. So the city decided to paint it—restore it to its original grandeur. Vandals were surprised that it was no longer a bulletin board and it stayed snow white for a while. Then the summer came, with bonfires and drinks and young people with things to say. It started small. A drawing appeared on the flat side of the rock, just below eye level. Two dogs were mating, expressionless except for their startled black eyes. Anna wondered what they were looking at. The female dog appeared slightly more wide-eyed. She ran a finger over the copulating canines and they smudged under her fingertips. The top of the female’s head turned into a cloud. Maybe it was better that way. Anna was tempted to add to this drawing. All around them was total whiteness. Were they planning to repopulate their entire planet? She rummaged around in her bag for a pen and raised it to the rock. She was meeting friends, but not until later. Anna paused with her pen in the air. Yes, a simple wooden house that would shelter both of them and their pups. Some privacy. She framed them in a rectangle, put a triangle on it, and coloured in the wall. Hidden from view, the couple could stay in coitus as long as they liked without disruptions. They could be free of prying eyes and meddling fingers and disregard the weather. The dogs, however, didn’t completely disappear behind the wall. She left two openings: a door and a window. Through a rectangle that was uncoloured, you could see their midsections in action. A square showed a portion of their faces. They were now looking outside or at the wall in front of them. Maybe there was a painting hanging there. Anna thought about this painting as she drew the shingles on the roof. By the time she finished, it was time to go. She stepped back and pulled the shawl around her tighter. It didn’t take long after that. Graffiti grew like moss and soon covered the entire rock.


4

Anna lay on the bed and wiggled her toes. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “I’ll just give you a few minutes to relax and I’ll be back,” the salesman said. Anna looked at him and nodded. She kept her feet together and her hands folded across her chest. The fluorescent lights glowed through her eyelids. This was the third bed she had been made to lie on and pretend to sleep. She felt like Goldilocks. She wished she had worn pants instead of a skirt because it would have made things easier. This mattress would cost her as much as a trip to Greece. She had always wanted to go there; she couldn’t explain why. Whenever she was about to spend a lot of money, she compared it to her budget for a trip to Greece: “Oh, that costs half a trip to Greece” or “That’s two trips to Greece.” But Anna hadn’t had a good sleep in a long time. A sore back usually woke her up in the middle of the night. There was a knot in one shoulder she’d had for weeks. “So how’s it feel?” the salesman asked. He suddenly appeared above her with a smile. “A new mattress takes some getting used to. We recommend a month to break it in. That’s why all our beds have a thirty-day trial period.” “Good to know,” she said. The bed felt huge. “The springs work independently so you won’t feel the other person moving around. Would you like me to demonstrate?” he asked. “Please do,” she said. He jumped on the bed and bounced up and down. “See?” He lay down. “People spend a third of their lives in bed. It really is worth investing in a good mattress.” Anna considered this. “Wouldn’t it be great if you could sleep standing up—like horses? Did you know they can stand for a few years without getting tired?” “I didn’t know that. I always thought they slept sitting with their legs folded.” “Nope. They’re built so that they can stand without using any muscles. Cool, huh?” “Yeah, pretty cool.” They lay in silence for a while.


“What has four legs, but only one foot?” she asked. “What?” “A bed.” He laughed. She turned to look at him. “You’ve never heard that one?” “Actually, no. Maybe I haven’t worked here long enough.” “How long have you been here?” “Three months.” “Do you like it?” “It’s all right.” He shrugged. “I love sleep.” “This is the perfect place then.” “Yeah.” Right now, Greece seemed farther away than ever. It was raining outside.


Emi Kodama

If I Were You

MER. Paper Kunsthalle


11

The portrait had always struck her as somehow odd. For one, there was a slight difference in sharpness between his head and the rest of his body. Anna had attributed this to a shallow depth of field, or some such photography jargon. His body was more in focus than his head. The photo was one of many on her mother’s dresser, although it didn’t have its own frame. It was simply slipped into the corner of another family photo and curled a little. They all stood on a cloth printed with a map of Paris. Her mother had never been there and didn’t ever intend on going. At first glance, the cloth appeared to be a souvenir, but then she noticed that there was no city name on it. When Anna asked about it, her mom said it had been a gift from a friend who had also never been to Paris. He wasn’t looking into the lens, but appeared to be listening carefully to someone towards the left. His body, however, was facing the camera—matter-of-factly—as one might in front of a screen under the bright lights of a studio. Had her grandfather, in fact, gone to get his photo taken in an oversized jacket? The white background gave no information. Anna peered at the image and noticed how relaxed he looked in the suit. She wanted to pick up the photo and dust it off. He had spent most of his life outside, tilling, sowing, planting, growing—a vegetable farmer in comfortable boots. Much later, her aunt explained that it wasn’t his body at all. They had pasted her grandpa’s head on another man’s body because his real body was clad in a cotton T-shirt in the photo. Her uncle hadn’t thought it dignified to be presented in work wear at your own funeral. So there happened the switch. Now on the dresser, her grandpa was leaning forward on the banks of the Seine in a borrowed body. Perhaps he had longer legs to stride on. Anna used to imagine that everyone loved Paris, but it was not true. To some, one city was like any other. She felt an injustice in this that was personal. Anna supposed that the owner of the body was walking around at this very moment. He was blinking, breathing, turning, pointing—maybe on the banks of the Seine.


13

The blue dress hung on the coat rack in the next room. It was made of layers of floaty fabric and grazed the floor when you wore it. Anna loved the way it swished around her legs. Pleated shells in white and silver were appliquéd across the chest. It was a dress to make you feel like a mermaid. The dress belonged to her friend Kate. They sat in the next room and talked. It was late, and since the clocks had changed, it was even later than the night before. Kate got up to make tea when Anna noticed something out of the corner of her eye. Blue daylight of an early morning was entering the open door in the next room. Was it already so late? Then her eyes adjusted and she realized it was just the dress. In the half-light, it was the colour of the sky an hour before the sun came up. “I’m sorry I spilled wine on your dress that time I borrowed it. I did my best to clean it.” Anna got up to check the stains. “It’s okay. You can barely see it.” That’s what the man who’d spilled the wine on her had said. She’d shouted at him but it had been too late. Now there were pale purple islands scattered over the folds. The dress was the last thing Anna ever borrowed from Kate. Anna still offered to lend Kate her things, but Kate never accepted them. Anna ran her hand over the fabric. It hung in the air between them.


20

The apartment was still. Anna had been asked to cat-sit while her sister was away on an internship. It was a good break. The cat was not friendly so they each minded their own business. At the moment, he was sleeping on the sofa and Anna was warming up a can of soup. She stirred it steadily so that it wouldn’t be lumpy. It was like being at home but different. And still something else from being on vacation. She liked it. Anna took her bowl and settled into the sofa. It was softer than the one she had and she sank further than she’d expected. Same soup, different sofa. The cat didn’t move. There were, however, similarities to their places. For example, they both had the same kitchen table. Anna’s was more worn though, its surface scratched and dented. They also had the same cactus and desk lamp and photo they had taken together on the camping trip last summer. Her sister called, asking for a particular poem that she wanted to use on her Christmas cards this year. Anna was told that it was in the blue cardboard box with the flower patterns on the bottom shelf of the bedroom closet next to the albums. She sat on the floor and opened the box. It had been further indicated that it was handwritten on a card that was in a clear plastic folder with other loose papers, but that she had to be careful with the open envelope in there because it had some special beads her sister didn’t want spilled. Anna peered into the envelope and shook it. She was tempted to shoot the beads across the floor like marbles. Anna found the poem tucked in between a card, a letter, and a gingerbread man made of popsicle sticks. She couldn’t help digging a little deeper to see what was in the rest of the box. Near the bottom lay a silkscreen print that Anna also had. Anna’s had been a present from her sister. While Anna’s was in a basic wood frame, the one in her hand was a smooth mahogany. It was also bigger because the print was bordered by a mat so it wasn’t pushed up against the frame. Upon closer inspection, she saw that the print was number two of five. It said so just underneath the image in pencil. Anna’s had no such inscription. Here, the print’s ink rose a little from the surface. Anna’s was as flat as a board.


Sometimes, she felt like she was in a story. She heard the narrator say, “Her heart sank,� in her head. Anna quietly put everything back in the box. She placed the print on top before covering it with the lid.


33

Laura was fun and smart and pretty. She wasn’t like any other soccer coach Anna had ever had. Laura was the closest thing she had to a big sister. Anna had often wondered what it would be like to have someone in her family who was close in age, but wiser. At home, she was the oldest, but she didn’t feel wise. Her sister never asked for advice and Anna never offered any. They were almost the same height and it wasn’t clear whether Anna was short for her age or her sister was tall. Laura had a handsome boyfriend whom Anna had only seen from afar. He was a pilot who brought her flowers and fixed the car. Anna thought they were perfect together. One day, Laura mentioned that they were getting married. Anna looked at Laura’s finger. Her cousin, who had gotten engaged the year before, had a stunning diamond that glittered, even in the dullest light. She didn’t see a ring. Anna was confused. “Since when does a diamond represent eternal love? It’s just an expensive rock. What if I lost it? I could never forgive myself.” Anna looked at her own hand. She had never worn a ring on her left ring finger. That was where the engagement ring was supposed to go and she was saving its place. She imagined the size and shape it might be. Whether it would be set in gold or platinum. The other girls bounced up and down while asking Laura if she had chosen her colours for the wedding and what kind of dress she wanted. Anna stuffed her hands in her pockets. She thought of her ring with a pink stone that she’d gotten from the dentist. She had chosen one that was too big so that she would be able to wear it for a long time. That night, she carefully slipped it onto her left ring finger and admired it. But it felt wrong there and she quickly moved it to her right hand. At the next practice, Laura drove up in a silver sports car. It was an engagement present from her fiancé. Anna had never been in a convertible. She imagined herself in the passenger seat. There were several things wrong with this picture. She didn’t have enough hair that would fly in the wind. Her clothes were too old and wrinkled. She only had sunglasses that made her look like a cartoon. Anna frowned and admired Laura instead. Anna had a whole collection of rings from the dentist, but the pink ring was her favorite. It always remained too big.


There was a hole found in the changing room wall; the janitor is looking into it.


I

U

If I were you, I would hold the book at eye level. I’d close my right eye. Then with my left eye, I’d look at the U. After that, I’d slowly move my head closer or further away from the page while ­looking at the U. The I will disappear when my head is approximately 20 cm (8 in) from the page. I would repeat the experiment with my right eye by looking at the I.


How many times did you come with us? All those trips have 足become one long continuous hike in my memory.

I still have vivid memories of all the hikes and camping trips that we went on when we were kids. And just like you said, they all seem like one endless hike.


63

The first time she noticed something amiss in the mirror was when she shared the bathroom with her father. Normally, it was Mom who was in there, combing her hair, wetting a washcloth, putting a squidge of toothpaste on her brush. But today it was Dad, and Anna stood on her step stool and peered at his face in the mirror. “Dad?” she asked. He stopped wiping the sink to look at her. “Yeah?” “Your face looks different in the mirror.” He laughed. “What do you mean?” “It’s…twisted,” she said. He faced the mirror again and sure enough his face was distorted. “It’s just the angle of the light because you’re not looking into the mirror straight on. Your face looks crooked to me,” he said. She considered this as she brushed her teeth. “I’m going to check on your sister now,” he said, and kissed the top of her head before leaving. But why didn’t anything else in the mirror look crooked? From her angle, the wooden ship hanging on the wall looked perfectly seaworthy, sailing on the open water. It leaned slightly to the left, fighting an invisible wind, and Anna had always wondered about its destination. Maybe the contortion had something to do with getting old. She’s heard her mom say that her bum was starting to sag. Did that have anything to do with a crooked face? Anna knew that your body changed as you grew older. She herself was growing a new tooth. She stared hard into the mirror. She slowly turned her head and kept a close eye on her face. She jerked her head to the right. Then to the left. She wanted to move faster than her reflection to witness her own twisted face. No such luck. Anna hopped off her stool and thought about which story she’d like to have read aloud. She would choose one with lots of characters because her dad could do voices. Anna had a lot of respect for her father’s voices. She thought of her own attempt to emulate Sinbad the Sailor and his cohorts. They hadn’t been very ­convincing. Dad had different voices and different faces. Maybe this was something she would grow into, as she got older.


67

What she remembered most clearly about the room she shared with her sister growing up was her ex-boyfriend drawer. While her sister still wore the ring her first boyfriend gave her, Anna’s was hidden away in that drawer. It was on the bottom left of her desk. The reason she had chosen that particular one was that when you removed it, there was a hidden space underneath. It was a secret and she didn’t have to share it with her sister. Each ex had a different container in the drawer: there were two boxes (one tin, the other cardboard) and a manila envelope. Not everything fit into them and odd-sized items were puzzled in ­between. Only later did it strike her as grave-like. Her sister, on the other hand, left the photos of ex-boyfriends on her shelves. They sat in sponge-painted frames between trophies and figurines, covered in a fine layer of dust that made them hard to see in direct light. The space under the drawer remained empty. When Anna was home visiting her parents, she would occasionally open the drawer, but she never unpacked everything because it had been so much work to put in order. It was the most organized part of the room. Many years later, when she emptied the drawer, she could no longer remember what was from whom. When she tried to put it all back in its place, nothing fit as well as it had before.


I kind of feel like the old me when I’m talking to you. Not in a regressive kind of way, but somehow more youthful. Cause I knew you when we were young.


70

Anna had made the painting in her first year of art school. It felt like a big accomplishment and still hung in her parents’ living room. She was proud of it for the following reasons: size (she had never painted so big before), texture (she had used various gel media to thicken the paint), content (it was the first time she had attempted portraiture), and time spent on it (nearly a whole semester). When her aunt asked her if she wanted to show her work to a painting circle, Anna agreed. She towed her big black portfolio case on the bus. It was bigger than a suitcase, but flat and she had to hold it close when she walked so the wind wouldn’t catch it. She used both hands to lift it onto the table surrounded by older ladies in colourful sweaters. The case was made of plastic even though it looked like leather and made a distinctive splat when it hit the table. She was sweating. Anna took a quick breath and started the presentation by holding up charcoal drawings of nudes. Then came architecture in pen and ink, landscapes in gouache, and still lifes in acrylic. Everyone oohed and aahed and nodded appreciatively. Anna figured this was what it was like to be an artist. At last they came to her prized painting. It wasn’t the real thing, mind you—just a reproduction framed by a black mat board. One lady asked her to talk about it in more detail. Anna did her best. A few days later, her aunt called to say that one of the women had been extremely moved by the last painting. It was the exact painting she had always wanted to paint. What the woman meant by this, exactly, Anna didn’t understand. To what degree was it the same? Was telepathy involved? Did Anna believe in such a thing? Her aunt had been part of the group for just over a year. They met once a week with their easels and sat in a circle regardless of whether there was something in the middle to look at or not. The woman had asked her aunt if she could copy the painting. She wanted to recreate it with her own brush. Anna didn’t have a problem with that. If her work could be a source of inspiration, why not? But she asked to be credited if the painting was ever shown. That seemed important. Anna eventually received a photo of the finished painting. It resembled hers, but only vaguely. So what if it was a distant cousin


to her painting, rather than a twin? It didn’t aect her work at all. She stood there looking at it for a long time, then put it away in a shoebox. The woman moved away soon after. The rest of the painters closed their circle a little, as if moving closer to a fire. They sat quietly in front of their canvasses, leaning forward with brushes. There were no more interruptions from artists coming in to show their work.


74

Her sister slept with her watch on. She had poor eyesight and couldn’t see the clock on her night table without fumbling for her glasses. She liked to know the time the moment she woke up. On her watch, the entire face glowed in the dark. They were both home visiting their parents and were sleeping in the old bunk bed. The light was gray outside the pink curtains. Her sister rolled over for the second time within a few minutes. “What time is it?” Anna whispered. “Time to get a watch,” her sister mumbled. Anna chuckled to herself because that had been her line when they were little. Suddenly the bed seemed small, even though she hadn’t grown a hair since she was sixteen. She tried to sink down a little and go back to her dream. Anna dreamed she was swimming in the South Pole. The water was the temperature of a bath that had been run a while ago. The air was room temperature. Her sister was swimming towards her with her hair piled high on her head. The water barely moved around her. Anna pushed off a wall of ice and headed towards her sister. She splashed more than she swam. The sky was gray. The clouds were low. Mountains sparkled blue and purple on the horizon. Her sister wasn’t moving closer at all, but when Anna looked over her shoulder, the iceberg was far behind her. She faced forward, determined to keep swimming, and there she was, her sister, treading water in front of her. Anna reached out for a hug and awoke with her arms around her stuffed rabbit. Anna was on the top bunk and her sister was on the bottom. She couldn’t remember the last time they had hugged. The rabbit looked at her and she looked at the rabbit. They had known each other for a long time—ever since she had traded it for the dog. When they were little, they both used to get presents on their birthdays. One year, her sister got the rabbit, while Anna got a dog. Anna had fallen in love with the rabbit instantly, but she’d kept quiet. It was, after all, her sister’s birthday. It wasn’t until much later that she hatched a plan to convince her sister that the dog was cuter and cuddlier. Looking back, she felt guilty about it. Anna slowly leaned over the edge of the bunk to peer at her sister. The dog lay next to her.


Yes, she still loved the rabbit more. Everyone was older now—Anna, her sister, the rabbit, and the dog—each in their own way. Time, as ever, was moving on. Today was Anna’s birthday. She would get her favorite meal. There would be singing. There would be cake for everyone. But there would be gifts only for her.


She gave her dog food.


85

The sweater was the colour of mustard. It was made of polyester and had a loose fit. It wasn’t itchy. It wasn’t warm. Anna looked at herself in the mirror. She had smiled and said, “Wow, a turtleneck. Thank you.” It was a Christmas present from her boyfriend’s mom. It had come wrapped in a box. There’d been no card. Anna had crocheted her a set of flower-shaped coasters. It was a new pattern so she’d started early, but it had still taken her until a few days before Christmas to finish. Anna knew that nobody would love them as much as she did. The sweater normally lay folded at the bottom of her bottom dresser drawer. It would occasionally reveal itself when she rifled through her clothes or when she took out the things on top of it. She would stare at it then close the drawer. Anna only wore it once to a dinner at her boyfriend’s parents’ house. It occurred to her that perhaps someone else would love it and wear it and match it with the right pair of jeans. Anna had never given away a gift before. “I thought the colour would be nice on you,” Mrs. Wilson had said. As Anna looked at herself in the sweater, she couldn’t disagree more. Her own mother had stopped giving her gifts years ago. It had been quietly relegated to something Anna had outgrown. She tried to remember the last gift she’d received. It was most likely the gold ID bracelet. She happened to be wearing it today. It wasn’t engraved and the empty nameplate always reminded her of her mom, its shiny face only revealing a vague reflection of its surroundings. When Anna asked why her name wasn’t engraved in it, her mom said it was more elegant that way. She stood there in the sweater and the bracelet. The sweater didn’t suit her at all and the bracelet could have belonged to anyone. Both made her feel invisible. Anna took off the sweater and unclasped the bracelet. She put them back in their rightful places and stopped looking at herself in the mirror.


87

It had warmed in the past few days and everything had thawed and released. Tim and Anna were walking without their gloves. It was too early, but there was a strong possibility of spring that night. With so much to talk about it seemed okay to laugh loudly and skip a little because not everything could be said at once. There were only forty-five minutes left before the last train. All was new in the uncold and they stood for a moment to look at a tree. Or was it a shrub? They couldn’t say. The house was dark and Anna hopped the fence to stand under it. Tim looked at her beneath the leaves in her checkered coat and joined her. Above them, the branches spread out like an umbrella. He crouched a little to avoid the leaves. “This is cozy,” she said. “Yeah, like a tree house.” An airplane leaving from a nearby airport roared passed. It seemed for a moment that they would take off—all three of them, Tim, Anna, and the tree. The wind blew. Her breath caught. It had been a long time since she’d felt like this. Anna leaned out from under the tree and looked up, but there were too many lights to see the stars. The neighbourhood calmed. She put her hands in her pockets and walked out from under the tree. Her breath was visible again.


Here, I would close


my eyes and draw.


110

airplane....................... 50, 87 album.................... 20, 29, 45 appliance......................... 107 bag......................................2 bathing suit.......................44 bead..................................20 bear........................... 43, 107 bed............... 4, 5, 49, 50, 54, ........................... 74, 90, 107 bed frame..........................54 bedspread..........................50 beer...................................90 bikini.................................44 bird...................................27 board................................20 bulletin board.....................2 book................ 41, 90, 93, 98 boot............................ 11, 27 bottle................................43 bowl..................................20 box.................. 20, 21, 67, 85 bracelet.............................85 branch...............................87 bread.................................27 breadcrumb..................... 105 brochure............................37 brush............... 50, 63, 70, 71 bucket............................. 107 bulb...................................50 bunk............................ 49, 74 cactus................................20 cage...................................27 cake...................................75 camera........................ 11, 29 canvas...............................71 cape..................................27 car............................. 33, 107 card............................. 20, 85 cardboard.................... 27, 67 carpet.......................... 27, 44

cat.....................................20 chair............................ 41, 50 chicken..............................41 cicada.............................. 107 cloak.................................27 clock...................... 13, 43, 74 cloth..................................11 clothes......................... 33, 85 coaster..............................85 coat...................................87 coat rack...........................13 cocktail.............................44 coloured pencil..................98 computer...........................14 container...........................67 convertible........................33 couch.................................37 cover........................... 49, 93 crib....................................43 cupboard...........................90 curtain........................ 74, 79 cutlery............................. 104 dagger...............................99 desk....................... 41, 50, 67 diamond............................33 dog.................... 2, 49, 74, 75 door................. 2, 13, 14, 27, ......................49, 50, 79, 105 drawer................... 41, 67, 85 drawing...........2, 6–7, 18–19, 22–25, 30–31, 38–39, 46–47, 49, 56–59, 64–65, 70, 72–73, 82–83, 94–95, 98, 102–103, ................. 108–109, 118–119 drawing pad......................49 dress...................... 13, 33, 98 dresser............. 11, 49, 79, 85 drink........................... 2, 107 earring...............................98 easel..................................70


111

elastic.............................. 107 envelope.......... 20, 37, 67, 93 fabric........................... 13, 44 fan.....................................79 feather...............................27 fence.......................... 87, 104 figurine..............................67 Fimo.................................98 fire pit...............................90 ower.......................... 33, 79 y......................................50 folder........................... 20, 37 frame..................... 11, 20, 67 fridge.................................27 furniture............................79 gate................................. 107 gear...................................90 gel media...........................70 gift.................. 11, 75, 79, 85 gingerbread man...............20 glasses......................... 74, 90 glove............................ 50, 87 hat....................................14 headboard.........................54 horse....................... 4, 49, 90 ice............................. 74, 107 ice machine..................... 107 image.............. 11, 15, 20, 37 ink.....................................20 jacket.......................... 11, 37 jeans..................................85 ladder................................49 lamp............................ 20, 50 laundry.............................37 leaf.............................. 15, 79 leash..................................49 leather...............................70 lemonade...........................90 lens...................................11 letter........................... 20, 93

lid.............................. 21, 107 light......4, 11, 14, 44, 49, 50, ....................... 63, 74, 87, 98 log.....................................90 mail...................................37 map................11, 50, 54, 107 marble...............................20 marker...............................98 marshmallow............... 90, 91 mask..................... 27, 50, 99 mat............................. 20, 70 mattress.................. 4, 54, 90 meal..................................75 menu.................................41 mermaid............................13 milk...................................43 mirror........27, 44, 45, 63, 85 money.................................4 mosquito......................... 107 motorhome........................90 mustard.............................85 nameplate.........................85 oregano................... 104, 105 outlet................................27 package.............................37 page...........29, 37, 49, 93, 98 paint.................................70 painting............. 2, 70, 71, 79 pamphlet...........................37 pancake........................... 104 pants...................................4 paper............... 20, 49, 93, 98 parakeet............................27 peanut...............................41 pen......................................2 pencil.......................... 49, 98 petal..................................79 photo.........11, 14, 15, 20, 29, ............37, 44, 45, 67, 70, 93 picture......................... 14, 33


112

pillow................................49 pi単a colada........................44 plant................... 37, 79, 104 pocket................. 33, 87, 107 poem.................................20 portfolio case.....................70 portrait.............................11 poster.................... 50, 98, 99 poster board.....................98 potion...............................98 present............ 20, 33, 74, 85 print............................ 20, 21 pup......................................2 rabbit.......................... 74, 75 radio..................................93 raisin............................... 104 ring............................. 33, 67 rock......................... 2, 33, 90 rose...................................79 sandwich..................... 41, 90 scissors............................ 104 scoop............................... 107 screen................................11 sculpture...........................29 scythe................................27 seat........................... 33, 107 shawl...................................2 sheet.................................43 shelf.......................... 20, 104 shell..................................13 shingle.................................2 ship...................................63 shirt..................................90 shoe...................................37 shoebox.............................71 sign...................................29 sink...................................63 skirt....................................4 sneaker..............................98 soap..................................37

sock............................. 49, 98 sofa...................................20 sole....................................27 soup..................................20 souvenir............................11 spring..................................4 statue................................29 stem..................................79 stone.................................33 step stool..........................63 suit....................................11 suitcase....................... 37, 70 sunglasses..........................33 sweater........................ 70, 85 T-shirt.................. 11, 29, 44 table................ 20, 70, 74, 98 tea......................... 13, 37, 50 tent...................................90 tin foil...............................27 toothpaste.........................63 trophy...............................67 turtleneck..........................85 umbrella...................... 44, 87 vase...................................79 vegetable...........................11 vending machine............. 107 wallpaper..........................44 washcloth..........................63 watch................................74 whale............................... 107 window.....2, 15, 50, 105, 107 window box.......................79 windowsill....................... 104 wine..................................13


Graphic Design............................................... Studio Luc Derycke in conversation.................................................. with Emi Kodama Printed at................................................. Cassochrome, Waregem Published by..................................... MER. Paper Kunsthalle vzw ............................ www.merpaperkunsthalle.org............................ ...................... with the support of Patrick Ronse &...................... ......................Be-Part, Platform voor actuele kunst......................

© 2012 Emi Kodama © 2012 Text by Oscar van den Boogaard © 2012 MER. for this edition ISBN 978-949069-3459 D/2012/7852/118


114

My first city was spread out over the big table in our attic. My grandfather had built it in his youth around the turn of the century. In the middle was Central Station: an elegant building with windows of glass and doors with copper handles. On the platform was a sign: Have your tickets ready! The iron tracks traversed and encircled the city. Along the tracks were the houses, hotels, a water tower, a church and a school. During the thirties my father added a zoo and a warehouse. A Meccano crane. I modernised the city when I was a boy with new buildings made of Lego. Beside the old iron tracks I laid a new track for trains that didn’t have to be wound up, trains that ran on batteries. My city was a modern city with a historic centre. As a child I was mainly interested in the technology of the city, in the public areas, in the transportation facilities. I designed streets, boulevards, roundabouts and parking spaces for my matchbox cars. I devised a track for the three generations of little figures of tin, rubber and plastic. Along the edge of the table I built a harbour complex and an airport. I even furnished it with a missile base.


Sometimes I had my fill of the city’s commonality and I had a hankering for the private world of the dollhouse, and if that wasn’t private enough I moved on to dressing and undressing Barbie, Ken and Skipper. The village in which I grew up, the pastures, the woods, the cows and horses, didn’t interest me at all. My grandmother took me to the real city. We went by train and arrived in Central Station. Passing down a large boulevard, where we ate ice cream, we walked hand in hand to the canal tour boats. We glided through the canals and the harbour. It was as if I myself had been shrunk to the size of a little figure and was sailing through my own toy world. I think that during my first trip to the city I paid no attention to the people there, only to the buildings, the cars and the shop windows. It’s a disconcerting realisation: the only faces that interested me were those of the wax figures at Madame Tussauds, because they didn’t look real.


I looked at figures before I looked at people. I didn’t begin to observe other people until I had learned to look at myself. After that I’ve never been able to look at a city without looking at its inhabitants. That time with my grandmother was perhaps the last time. I still try it occasionally, to look at the city an sich, just the buildings, the squares, the streets but that glance in the face of that one passer-by is enough to switch off the city in a single stroke. Oscar van den Boogaard Translated by Kate Mayne


Contents The white rock....................2

Anna sat at.......................50

Anna lay on........................4

The bed was......................54

The portrait had...............11

The first time....................63

The blue dress..................13

What she remembered......67

Unlike most people...........14

Anna had made.................70

The apartment was...........20

Her sister slept..................74

The parakeet had..............27

Anna’s roommate loved.....79

John was quite..................29

The sweater was...............85

Laura was fun...................33

It had warmed...................87

They returned from..........37

There were two.................90

Anna had been..................41

Anna and her....................93

Anna dreamed that...........43

The assignment was.........98

Jack oered to..................44

Tom was staying............. 104

Anna hated going.............49

The standard amenities.107

Index.....................................................................................110 Afterword..............................................................................114 by Oscar van den Boogaard


Profile for MER. Paper Kunsthalle

Emi Kodama - If I Were You  

Book by artist Emi Kodama. Published by MER. Paper Kunsthalle. With the support of Be-part, Waregem.

Emi Kodama - If I Were You  

Book by artist Emi Kodama. Published by MER. Paper Kunsthalle. With the support of Be-part, Waregem.

Advertisement