The Fields of Kaliningrad
Mixed Media on Paper
75 x 100 cm

 

Gisela Fuentes has been continually moving, slowly back and forth with shuffling steps. She and the others they call “wanderers” are moving amongst others, doing other things, some talking nonstop, some coloring in coloring books, some stroking the surfaces of tables in deep visual and tactile contemplation. She is along moving around and past still others there who no longer do such things. They are sitting in chairs in various forms of posture, some in wheelchairs, wheels locked down. Some are in bed slowly growing into the fetal position marking the “end stage” of many brain and nervous system disorders, the consequences of  failed neurodiversity.

Gisela’s path is being beaten through the dense, low-lying surface of the high plain, through the ruins of the motel, Algiers. She moves from the front nurse’s station to the door at the end of the hall, where she stops, looking through the glass pane of the door and at her own reflection in it. She touches the glass and her own hand with her fingers, sobbing, constantly catching her breath, but never with tears. “Aye bendiiito, aye mamiiita, aye papiiito” “Oh the blessed one, oh mommy, oh daddy” she says, over and over again. I’m afraid this is one of those many times when her sobbing will become unbearable, not just to us, the self appointed saints, angels and birds of this mysterious path through the ruins, but to whomever those other people are around her. One feels it might begin to sleet at any time.

I’m feeling sorry for the new nurse I see running back and forth. She’s lost track of Gisela but soon track will be found for her. Gisela has pushed too hard on the door to the outside and set off the alarm. She has become subject to what the corporation calls “behaviors.”  Gisela may not be staying, may not be here within the facility’s window, the time during which the state inspectors might appear. I sometimes speak German with Gisela and some other nurses and assistants are amazed. Sometimes Gisela seeks me out, and sometimes she does not know how to deal with this. Is it a hallucination? Where, when, how and why is she, and what is going on?

In such a reality Gisela is crying and in the crying I am hearing, here and there, I’m coming again to what has become one of my most important realizations. This crying, never with tears, always subdued, a sort of desperate attempt to cry out, comes only as an uncontrollable outpouring of sound. This crying, it strikes me again, with its sort of whine, searching for a voice, without tears, is one I think I myself had felt, had cried, but only in dreams. For some reason, I used to know this cry, this dream, could be fixed, that it could be resolved, brought to resolution. Now I know things differently.

Gisela’s cry is the hook, dream play, and I am “making a federal case out of it, a big song and dance, what in the tragic drama of the German Baroque era was called a Haupt- und Staatsaktion. We are all doing this. They are a part of our ongoing paranoia, reality, the last judgment. We are all liars, secret keepers who dare not tell secrets because they are also our own – our means of existence. This is not just in the nursing home, but everywhere. The nursing home is only one setting with a more finite series of representations.

see also Kaliningrad Series