And I didn’t know this amazing artist existed! Seeing her work at the Tate I felt twinned. Not in terms of the work, Schendel did before I was born what I haven’t done yet. But in terms of the questions that she asked herself along her trajectory. It fills my soul of joy to discover that there are more people who get excited about the idea of visualising a thought, that use letters to draw with, that mix philosophies and politics and colours and forms. And with such talent! I get inspired when I find new artists to admire. What an agreeable surprise. Especially in this moment of crisis in which the bad guys seem to be winning and not only in the economy.
At the same time, when I discover an artist that did decades ago what in my mind is barely the sketch of a possibility I suffer a kind of artistic-existential short circuit. It makes me feel a bit ninny, ashamed of being so slow, humiliated as I realise that not only am I not in the vangard, but on top of that I am more than a generation late! Coward too, for not jumping into the creative vacuum. I get an urge to create, to recover the time wasted on minuteness, to concentrate on the important and fight so that the urgent doesn’t monopolise the little available time. It reminds me of the fact that one day, any day, I will die.
And that certainty, perhaps because of the rubbing of contradiction, generate sparks. It makes my cellular cytoplasm bubble, it makes my synapses twinkle. I expand. I deepen. I perceive the world more intensely. Uncertainty stops being a threat and turns into thousands of open doors. I feel the transformative power or art, its importance. And I decide that when I grow up I want to be Mira Schendel.
Illustration: “Thank you!”, from the Feminist gooseneck barnacles series.