conversations 2007 (detail) (for axis)

The artist Michael Landy famously burnt all his possessions. A funeral pyre. A burning made into art. Everything the artist does becomes art. Everything gone. How did it feel? Throwing it all away. Everything gone. Clearing a space. Empty. Ready to fill. To fill with what?

It takes courage to let it all go. Delivering it up to the fire. Embers into dust. Energetic destruction. Death to life. Yes. Mark Doty writes about the Buddhist ‘Sky Burial’. Stripped bare by vultures. Then the bones crushed to powder and mixed with flour. The birds take that too. All gone. No trace. Returned to the source. Emptied.


I wake from a dream. 3.10 am. I go for a pee still disturbed by the vision of it. My mother is alive. I am staring at her skin and the tracery of red wheals that has begun to show on her arms and back. As I continue to stare the wheals become hennaed – gorgeous patterns. She seems oblivious of this tattooing. The pattern closes up and metamorphoses into a mass of swirling worms and eels. I am horrified. Mum is unconcerned merely pushing them off. I watch as they fall to the ground. Underneath her skin is perfect, white, young and shining. Dad is there too – we talk about it, wondering what it means.

I cry. Let it go, he says. It is only a dream. Yes.