Saturday, 29 May 2010
'Hold Fast To That Which Is Good' by Matthew Miles. Installation from found muslin and torch, black rubber, video projection, black tempera.
This tent piece stood in the middle of the warehouse-gallery space for the Blasphemy show in Poble Nou district of Barcelona. I don't like explaining too much, but I'd been thinking of progress and frontiers, and also myth and fairtyale. People could walk in front of the projector casting their shadows on the tent, or poke their heads inside.
Posted by Matthew Miles at 07:12
I made this diptych for the recent Blasphemy group art shown in Barcelona. It's a digitally manipulated print from stills of a video I shot. Also, below are the two panels separately.
Left Behind (left panel of diptych), Matthew Miles. Digitally manipulated print, 63cmx89cm.
Left Behind (right panel of diptych), Matthew Miles. Digitally manipulated print, 63cmx89cm.
Posted by Matthew Miles at 06:36
'You Are Where' by Matthew Miles, digitally manipulated print from collage of cut up digital prints.
I showed this at Blasphemy, Barcelona also. Am into the piece quite a lot but also maybe it referenced the tent installation too closely, while being an additional style too far when combined with the diptych. Everything was in different parts of the massive warehouse so it didn't matter too much. 'You Are Where' is a continuation of a series of cut-up collages I've been making from my photography and video stills, which are then digitally manipulated and printed as connecting panels. Sometimes I think this stuff is too pretty and hate it, others I like it for being naive.
Posted by Matthew Miles at 06:31
Friday, 14 May 2010
Sometimes Marc says a song reminds him of when he was young. That’s when I feel like I’m looking at the sun and also like he’s dead. I put on Last FM hours ago and let it run, same as always, but for the first time I have headphones in and the wire doesn’t bother me because I’m barely moving. I’m threading red and black and white lines over and over again and I don’t even notice the songs I’d skip when I’m being normal, alive – trying to edit.
We moved to Brighton because we never went out anyway. We have it in our windows: the burned pier and the stones and the sky and the sea. We’re right next to the burned pier. If you go down there at night with a camera and shoot without the flash the struts left behind look like something from the dark ages. If you put your hood up, and light your face with a mobile screen, you could be one in a chain of people that do black arts. Men, not people.
Anyway, Marc won’t leave the flat and we don’t do that anymore. But he looked ok with his hood up. He didn’t make his face when I showed him the picture, didn’t look away, and we said we’d make the photos properly another night – we’d shoot properly – and we didn’t do that; we don’t do that and I don’t care.
I make stuff and so does he. We do it at separate ends of the room, or side by side, or in different rooms mostly now – he says he’s stopped liking the window of sea except before dawn, and I usually have that part. I’m here now, convinced that under the bed is a tunnel. From one side it’s a tunnel to shoot you to sky on waves and from the other it goes somewhere calmer, although there’s a thing to read first, and the shadow it’s in looks cold. It is cold – you put your fingers out and it blows to shiver – so I don’t go there, even though the other side looks white and gold and more appealing than the sky.
What I’ve done now is convinced Marc that it’s a good idea to be out and at a party. It’s one of our rare times with other people and I know I’m not me – I’m Marc and I’ve left myself over there.
I’m leaning against a wall with one shoulder and I look cool, I look hostile – ok and froggish when I think too much and tilt my head down. That’s definitely my worst angle, but now I raise my chin again, in profile, and I can see why nearly everyone says I’m cute or hot, or tells me I’m handsome, or like a model. It’s why Simon has to pretend he doesn’t go through plastic bags for my used underwear, even though he never puts it back how it was because I take pictures to catch him out. I don’t show him or mention it – it’s too embarrassing, or pointless. I don’t even care. I don’t care anywhere near as much as he does.
When I was me I never saw my hair this clearly. I didn’t know the hair on my sides looks like that. It needs to be trimmed, I can see exactly how, but I can’t tell me that. I don’t want to go over and talk to me – to stop me from being alone and pretending not to notice being looked at by me and also twice by everyone who walks into the room.
I stay where I am, holding a drink too tight, and it’s weird being Marc. It’s suffocating. That flaky skin between his eyes – my eyes – it’s heavy. I pretend I never notice it, but it staples me to places no one bothers. When I get to be me again I’m going to stop giving me chocolate like I always ask me not to, not to offer. I’m going to stop laughing when I say dairy is what makes the flaky shit happen between my eyes. I have to know I’m going to be me again because if I doubt it for more than a second I feel I’m going to throw.
So if this is me gone I see nothing – right? There’s nothing.
What a way to live a life, knowing it’s your only thing. I own this and I spend so much of it frustrated. I try and write literature and end up doing a novel about a family that doesn’t exist, that attempt to carve more from their lives, but not much more. Not much more than rearranging ambitions they already know are futile.
I’ve never been cool, but people have definitely thought I’m cool. You can say being cool is being comfortable in your own skin but what it really is, is living excitement. That’s what people want. When you think someone is cool you want to believe they’re living their fantasy – that their life is a projection of their fantasy. And you know really that they can’t. No one does. The things I want are unattainable, that’s what makes them hot. I could write a story about all kinds of different people who are making do, and dealing with the gap between what they can do and what they want, but here’s the gash in the page–
I keep thinking about falling out.
I did want to be a girl.
I did find out my mum needed Temazepam half the week. My plan was to put one to my lips and put one to my best friend’s lips and tell him it was acid, even though it was a pill with a line and numbers. When he was passed out I’d pull his pants down and rub my cock in his groove until I came. I’d wipe him clean with toilet paper and he wouldn’t wake. And he did take the pill and I pretended to swallow and he didn’t wake; didn’t move for seven hours. I know because I sat in his director’s chair looking at him and the space shuttle hanging from his ceiling by fishing wire. I looked at his gymnastics trophies and the red digits on his clock because all I wanted was to go over there and do it, or hold him, and I was scared he would wake. I was scared of what that would make me, and I couldn’t sleep; couldn’t move in case he started to die, or his mum or dad came and said he was in a coma.
He had red and white and black underwear and I did love him; wanted him to love me, whatever that was. Then it got depressing to be stalked, or needed, or encouraged, by uglier, older, badly dressed guys. I hated the way they were into their hairstyle or bands or a club in London when none of it mattered because they weren’t beautiful. And I must have made it better, or comprised, or had more to offer, because I got boyfriends who are by any definition handsome and intelligent and creative.
I still have a boyfriend who is by any definition handsome and intelligent and creative, and that you might have added on Facebook in the hope of something. His name is Jarek and I drink too much; can’t go outside. I’m a thirty-seven-year old male in a sports top a boyfriend who dumped me nine years ago left behind. I wear broken glasses and I’m out of money and sometimes think it would have been different if I’d done what I planned.
Anyway, breathe deep – keep breathing – I’ll come back, and I won’t be Marc, and it’s not like I can tell if all or nothing of what I know is true.
I keep breathing and it’s some people, a party, the lights are small, on floors, on top of a shelving unit – not many. It’s gloom walls and old carpet – a house party – but the settee is in the middle of the room and Simon is on that, and someone is DJing in the corner, and I don’t know what to say to this very pretty boy who is not over eighteen and by the window.
When I caught his eye I walked to him, and now I’m turning over things to say, and people are coming in and it’s too late – it’s sand in glass; the last. I just nod or smile or something – I just go; carry my drink away.
Simon says, ‘Why didn’t you talk to him?’
He says go and talk to him, as if I’ve fucked up, but more like because he knew it was a possibility and I’ve blown it with tripped lips. The boy is a shoulder and some hair and gone.
Simon says ‘Go after him.’
I say ‘Jarek’ and probably we both know that’s an excuse, that I’m scared. So now I’m talking too much, saying that I was in the hole and other shit.
Simon says some people start too early, finish too soon.
‘They want to stay home and fuck a kebab,’ I say.
Simon is laughing more than enough about that, it wasn’t funny. He’s even pretending to look at me, but his eyes are beneath eyes, and he wanted me to make me jealous. Maybe it’s worked because I’ve left the room.
I make out I don’t care I’ve left; I stay in the room with my drink and Simon for more than half a minute. But I care a lot, because if I let me go I’ll never get to be me again; I’ll be Marc until I die. So I follow me out of the room, scuffing shoulders with people in the hall, saying sorry, following me into the street.
It’s raining and a film set for London in the nineties. There are new cobbles on a side street over there, under the iron balconies and dockland warehouse doors, and in spills of light that are sometimes white or yellow.
I’m leaving in a black cab. It’s getting away, so I run and catch it at the junction. I get in the back with me and I get out, and I get out, and I know I was going somewhere to fuck someone else and that I’m pretending to be angry about the boy by the window I couldn’t even say alright to.
We walk back to the party not talking to me. I can see it isn’t a house; it’s a club or bar – a smaller version of something in Dalston. There’s a fluorescent white strip-light above the front door, which is grey metal and glass, and the walls are new grey brick. There are bench-tables in the tight walled bit where people can smoke. The boy is there, on a table with some people, and we’re pretending we didn’t see that.
I keep trying to believe in an energy, a spiritual force. Why live otherwise? You might as well accept you are no more meaningful than a Duracell battery that fits a broken Walkman. When I was three the energy was still called god and I spoke to him and asked him to replace my penis with a vagina. I tucked my tiny strand between thighs to help him get it right and it all worked fine until I touched it again; it all worked fine – I could feel it. Wow – being a girl: getting to be pretty and smiled on and do stuff together without instruction, I don’t know. Then it became I’m not a girl, I’m a boy, and you can wear bits of girls clothes under your jeans sometimes and try not to be caught. You can accept you look like a boy and you can act more like one too. You can train, you can try. I did. I got a lot better at being a boy, even though I don’t think I was one.
And next I am attracted to boys who look like cartoons or adverts – who are perfect. They have snub noses and big eyes and big lips and smooth skin. They have fringes and no body hair, apart from pits and pubes and whisps between balls and crack, and they are smaller than me – they had to be that from when I was aged twelve. I have grown into what I hate – a man – and have semi-unconsciously modified my desires to stay the right side of jail.
Jarek is twenty-seven but definitely hot/a lot younger looking. So I think, ‘that’s progress.’
But he’s a top and I’m versatile – you wouldn’t believe it, given that I wanted to be a girl, but I am. It’s where the force gave me something back: a real dick instead of a strap-on. Anyway, he won’t let me fuck him after the first time or two and I think of things like: ‘would I be more happy and more of a happy man if I fucked more arses?’ Or would I feel like I did when I did that, with boys from clubs and Thailand and Brazil, and I fucked them because they made themselves the bottom and I was even more detached than the first time I got my erection out with another guy.
I went through the motions. I always had to do it from behind and they were bent over or had arms splayed over a bed-head or table. It felt better when it was just ending and they were a little crumpled but still alive, and still connected to my dick – when they made a noise because they had too, or said something. Said my name or ok or ugh. That was probably best because I understood – I love being fucked. It feels such a sacrifice, or at least it’s better if you feel that way, I think.
When I used to fuck strangers I always felt guilty. It’s uncomfortable, like I know they had to buy underwear for themselves once for the first time, and they brought it home in a supermarket bag and worried about getting old.
It was ok, breathe, it was ok – there was black and red and white and there was Marc; there were Marc’s white sock feet and his ankles and the rest of him hidden by the wall. There were his ankles and white sock feet like those photographs of people who spontaneously combusted, and white and red and black, and now I don’t understand why that boy even looked to me.
I just saw myself in the bathroom mirror for too long – banging on the door, and people saying come on – and I’d hoped to burn holes in my eyes.
I saw myself and even though it was dark and candle lit, or maybe because of that – the way my cheeks and eye bags were spurling around in the oily light and shade how a lava lamp would if you sped it up – it seemed like there was no point in being alive, let alone out. I looked worse than the way I look when I’m looking at me, when we’re together. I should look at me more when I’m me. I should smile or have holiday eyes, at least just sometimes. I should let me know. I don’t look this bad then… Marc doesn’t look this bad when I look at him.
I am Marc. I have become my boyfriend – let’s just get that straight. I have become my boyfriend, and the real me doesn’t notice anything different, and I don’t know – I become sick as death if I think about it too much. It doesn’t seem to matter and then it becomes death. I look at the real me and think about what an opportunity I gave away. What a chance. And I don’t even know who got me. It wasn’t Marc that’s for sure, because I’m him. I am Marc and that’s what I have to drag around these sites. When I look at me it’s so familiar it’s hostile and I can’t believe Marc used to let me do this. The thing is I’m not wearing white socks. I’m not wearing white socks.
This part could be before or after. I’m standing near the DJ who is probably based on Larry T because Jarek talked to him in a party two months ago. He’s sort of fat and friendly, and only half into the room, and the CD decks are on the shelving unit and there’s an iron – a clothes iron. It’s not even a real one – it’s a shitty retro thing, like you get in that chain of shops that are only in Greenwich and Islington and Camden and Clapham. It’s the cheapest metal and plastic and pretending to be from the fifties. It’s mine. I’m embarrassed – I don’t know how it ended up being the bit of me on display. Simon is saying something about it, but something sort of let off, and here’s my head in the corner of the CD deck; it looks like a pyramid from this angle. Here’s me eating the grainy mulch of Pioneer and each word of any song is lasting a mile – stretched out and wrapping me like they bale magazines and waste in cellophane.
I did think the best feeling was dancing on three drugs and probably still would. And I found more of myself than anywhere else when walking streets and windows between drugs and close to dreams (you know the ones).
I don’t see why I should value myself when I’m unable to grasp the opportunities my life offers, as people I’ll never see starve, or get Aids, or work making clothes for Topman in hot countries I’ve skirted on flights and speedboats. Those are the ones with bad lives. Maybe it makes it easier for them to take the lives of others, and their own. I don’t know.
I don’t want to die. Not if this is all.
Get a job. I will, surely. I’m too pussy to kill myself. I’d like some more dreams. I’d like to be there if something big happened to the world. I’m scared that in twelve years time they’ll work out how to stop aging everyone rich and I’ll be the poor middle aged one. In any case, I already am an old poor gay bottom/versatile yeah right. The me of fifteen – the pretty one you loved – I’d have nothing but pity.
It’s all so much more wholesome on the roof. We’re holding hot mugs of something and it’s like we never forget what we’re doing and never eat meat and dairy. It’s London again – a lot of damp dark; that asphalt covering they put on roofs in the centre of town so you can walk but feel you shouldn’t be there, that you might make a hole.
A dyke with a vamp look pours more miso sup in my mug and smiles like it hurts. She looks good, in a done all rockabilly way. Her lipstick is chocolate on velvet. It looks nice, that’s what Jarek said. It looks nice, and she smiled at him more than me and I tried to think of something to say to her and all I could manage was ‘do you live here?’
They’ve done the talking since, and this is me and Jarek being ok together, not arguing; not being moody about the boy by the window or the fact that we know he was going in a taxi to fuck someone from the internet. There’s a kitchen nearby and a salad bowl, a hand with a spoon, and Jarek is talking about the last thing I wrote. The way he’s talking you’d think we hadn’t been unable to mention my never leaving the flat for seven weeks. That we didn’t know I pretend to look for jobs, and that I have generic pills hidden in three different places, and that I pawned my Powershot and that’s why it’s missing.
This is better; this is a relief. I’m not what I was, but I’m definitely not Marc either. I’m a camera warm with boys. They’re safe, just actors – no trouble.
Bryan has a shit name but he’s the hottest twink that’s ever done porn. Everything is in the right place and he doesn’t have a hairstyle. The other one is the second hottest twink in porn, but he knows it, and he doesn’t act like he cares, so they’re both sexy, like east Europe twinks, only American and wearing Speedos which they never rearrange or seem to know about.
There’s a bit of swimming pool behind them, there’s a bit of sun, and Bryan’s got black eyes and a black gap between his lips the size of a SIM card. He’s got a bulge in his black Speedos and they’re standing with Speedos round their thighs. They’re standing at a desk in a stuffy office stuffing condom balls of heroin up their arse holes, and then their latest DVD. They’re trying to get it all in before anyone notices, and without looking in too much pain, but it’s too late –
The man in the swivel chair is tapping an armrest like he’s happy and a regular DCI has them both in arm locks over the desk. He’s pushing their arms higher and they’re hurting.
‘Easy,’ says the inspector.
The regular detective drops their arms three notches but he’s still got both of them.
‘David,’ says the inspector. He says it how you talk to kids and dogs; it gets the detective to let their hands loose.
The porn stars’ arms are on the table and they’re bending over – faces on wrists and looking a mixture of bored and caught and at school. The detective puts on the gloves; starts pulling stuff out. DVDs come first, then the balls of brown powder. It means the inspector can get the guy who owns the porno company and deals the drugs, I know that already – I can see his glass coffee table and cloudy lounge furniture and two large vases by a blacked out fireplace. I can see his wall window of Bosphorus Bridge and minarets and brake-lights all slid together like a toy. I can see his face and it’s old and addicted to trouble and it doesn’t know it’s busted.
‘Slutty, slutty boys,’ says the inspector as the last hits the white bin bag on carpet.
The regular detective has empty glove hands and a what next look and the inspector tells him to take them to the shower. He says that, and he says, ‘And show them to my room.’
It’s fade, and the best thing about actors is they don’t know you’re there.
There’s a prison in my dreams. At first you’d think it wasn’t so bad; that it was an open prison – the type where people can do ceramics and gardening and escape. I get shown around it once a year at least, maybe more – I’m a prospective client, someone who could have sent a wing-full of convicts by now. I see the drive and the empty and dead green playing fields that stretch for a half a mile around the buildings. I see the reception, and it’s polished, and high ceilinged, and immaculate as always; there’s only ever a girl behind the desk – a young woman, no paperwork.
They do the tour, and it’s without odours of overcooked vegetables and only boys in orange or grey uniforms that let you pass in the corridors. You’d think it was an open prison until you got to the gymnasium, which has the highest vaulted ceilings and air full of floating boys like the stack of planes for Heathrow.
They’re not moving. They’re suspended and mostly naked, or in underwear that saw better days. The light in the windows is white as heaven and they’re being screwed tighter to their place in the heavy air; they’re being screwed tighter by nothing. They’re screwed tighter every day and they’ll never leave.
Yesterday there was a funeral for two porn stars and everyone in Turkey pretends they weren’t gay and American; their smiling faces flap from pennants strung between first floor windows. People wear black and go about their business quietly and you can do what you want behind closed doors.
We’re walking around – whispering in lifts and metro stations, and wearing the darkest things we packed because we flew before they died – and I don’t know where Jarek is. It’s embarrassing; we haven’t seen him since the tram and no one’s saying anything. My family are pretending he’s two steps behind, and I keep looking like I’m behind me; pretending I know he’ll appear any second and not that he’d rather be somewhere else. That he’d rather not be with me.
My parents walk faster, and stretch their necks up to peer over heads at some stall of junk or antiques, and they want me gone too; they’re gone among high shadows under arches. They’re gone – she was too young to be Marc’s mother anyway.
So ok, cool. This is Istanbul. I’m on holiday and I can do anything and I don’t know anyone and that’s fine – that’s exciting, because I’m being Marc and Marc says he loves to be places alone. I’m looking at the doors you glimpse between shoppers on Istiklal Caddesi, and thinking about how he always just hoped that was true – that he loved being alone in unknown places. But I know it wasn’t because I’ve read what he wrote about Madrid and the thing you most remember is that he thought the night porter was coming to kill him and he took too many Xanax and fish tanks exploded in his dreams.
I like to be alone. I love to be alone. I have to believe that, I have to believe something because Jarek’s gone and I’m getting Marc.
It’s white socks, some ankle, that’s all. It shouldn’t bother me, but for a while I wanted there to be no body connected. I wanted it not to be hidden by wall. And I used to think there’d be a time when he shouldn’t wear white socks anymore. I’m remembering that now. I’m remembering the sun stitched into paper with red and black and white.
The streets are nearly empty except for the men on corners and the strings of smiles in triangles flapping cold above my head. Every ten metres I look behind me in a way that suggests I know where I’m going, and that I know the men on corners are watching me and deciding who’s going to arm lock my throat and choke me to the pavement, and who’s going to steal my money.
The death is night here and I want to be what I was, and I’m in a bad part of town. I need to find the guy with the un-do and go back to the party, which suddenly feels like it could be a different roof in a different town. Even this is a long way from the guy’s fireplace and whitish-grey modular seating – from his bridge and black vases. This is tight cobbled streets and unlit windows and men in ones or twos on corners who pretend they don’t know I’m lost.
There’s a door on the left, it’s the door to a local men’s bar, and it’s not supposed to be open. Nothing is supposed to be open because of Bryan and the other one, but I push the door anyway. I’m in a half-lit room of lino tiles and cheap metal and wood chairs like they have in schools, and the apartments of people who do fashion, and there’s a bar with no one behind it. I hear fireworks in far off squares, and then I know it’s not fireworks it’s guns. If I could lock the door I would, but there’s just a keyhole. A big bad man without hair comes out of the doorway to the next room and nods at me – nods me through smiling – and here’s the guy. He’s sitting at a little table, an exam desk, and he looks poor and on the run, and like he probably doesn’t have what I need.
I don’t have to say anything – he knows I must be whatever I was again. He’s telling me, ‘Wait here’ and ‘I’ll be back with it’, and that kind of thing, and I know he’s lying. He’s unable to help, maybe worse. There’s gunfire in the street and the man’s gone and the big bald man is by the door and what choice do I have? The bangs are louder and closer and coming for me and this is it: what I got for losing.
The bald guy pulls a purple velvet curtain back; there’s a doorway to a wooden ladder. He pulls a gun out but he’s not going to shoot me, he says, ‘Go up, go up.’
I start up the rungs and the man could save me if he just went to the front of the bar and shot the people with guns, but he’s going nowhere. He’s dumb and still and holding a gun and the shots are so loud I can see feet in the window to the street. I can see white socks running in and a gunshot for the bald man and a gunshot for me, and I’m hot dust now. I’m toes and teeth and powder. I’m a young guy and an older guy’s faces on pennants over streets in a stiff little breeze.
Posted by Matthew Miles at 16:14