Tuesday, April 14, 2009

September 30: St Boniface

"Incomprehensible" is the word. Incapable of being comprehended -- or is that comprehood? No matter, the real question was whether the incompressibility -- I mean incomprehensibility -- incomprehension? -- was just me, or it was the exhibit, or if there was any difference. If a tree falls in a forest, and I'm the only one there, does it sound for anyone but me?

Let me backtrack -- back in a circle, back around the ravens and stars and pirate flags -- we are rewinding the film now, and so I walk backwards out of the Plug-In Institute for Contemporary Art. Pause it now. It is paused. I am in mid-stride, one foot hovering above the sidewalk in the direction of the institute. I am still in Winnipeg. The air would be blowing gently except it is also paused. Molecules quiver with paused kinetic energy.

Okay, let's take a breath. This is not going to be easy. Let's wander like ghosts into the institute and observe what happens. There is nothing there yet because the place is devoid of people. It is waiting for a live observer. Push play now and the physical me will enter.

I enter the institute, a storefront in this old mall. The walls of the first room ripple into shape -- and what shapes? Huge outlines of ravens, crows and cats, filled in with black sit menacingly on the wall. They are just pictures, they have no stories, no identities really, as meaningless as my dreams. I walk into the next room, painted black with colored strands tied between the ceiling and the walls and a television set in the front casts repetitive blurry shadows and also moans. It is like those nightmares where you are awake and cannot move a muscle. I compliment it. Fast forward now. you see me zipping through the few pockets of ironic cleverness in this pit of meaninglessness. Some odd witch costumes made of denim, and why all of the pirate flags? These things are worth at best a grimace and then I move on. I mean the cleverness of people trying to show how clever they are, not that of people in love with the creations of time.

We have zipped through, and now we will let the rest play out at walking speed. You can imagine me panting for breath out on the pavement, as though to recover from the incomprehensibility, but that would be too generous. I only sought meaning, so I walked to St Boniface, the French quarter and the cathedral.

There is a nice footbridge between the forks at Winnipeg and St Boniface, the old French quarter. It is suspension, an art piece where the support tower looms above you and braided cables hold up the bridge. There is a bar on the bridge, but I passed it. I was too busy staring at the Red River, flowing north beneath me, and the chill which crept silently into the air.

On the other side I kept to the river trails, until I saw a cemetery to my left. I crossed the road and walked through the cemetery to the cathedral -- an ancient structure which stood over the graves and me. In the center of its face, where a stained glass rose should have been, there was nothing but an open circle. Through the burnt-out cathedral's eye and roof I watched as clouds drifted across the disc until they were absorbed by the stonework.


No comments: