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Alan Stefanato, Q.

Pantomima XXX

On P and Lu and Q

Ruth is a collector of writings, a site dedicated to grey literature, unpublished and experimental texts, conceived by Manuela Pacella, born from the pleasure of writing and reading. We are very glad to host a text each month, selected from one of the sections of the four-headed Ruth: Yellow Dog, Hungry Ghosts, Free Spirits, Brain New.

This month we chose from Brain New Pantomima XXX, a text written by the artist Alan Stefanato for his solo show at Associazione Barriera in Turin (11 February – 13 March 2022), curated by Sergey Kantsedal with the assistance of Yuliya Say. This special version of the text was conceived specifically for NERO  and translated by Giulia Lenti.

 

The moon was high in the dark night, the bright rays surrounding her looked alive, drawing sharp black lines. P contemplated the moon every night so long that his face had become as white as her rays, and his black and white clothes as her two faces. That night he noticed something strange about her and decided to speak to her, she replied…

P: Being on the surface allows you to breathe the air of sky
LU: The lights you see in the abyss are monsters who want to eat you

P: Thank god I see well
LU: Don’t look, see

P: Living in the countryside desensitizes
LU: Blisters grow under your feet because they love nature

P: Colors are spectral
LU: The sun is white like me

P: A door without handles is a wall
LU: Windows are expressions of houses
P: Peach is a fruit for small ports
LU: Plants are patients they don’t need hospitals

P: Castles are built in buckets.
LU: If you’re not wet you’re dry

P: You don’t have time between the queues
LU: Sunrise is a lady who goes to the post office

P: Taps are diverted rivers
LU: Snow is an error

P: The wheel was invented by flat-earthers
LU: Strange is rotating

Alan Stefanato,  Pierrot, 2022. Photo by Gabriele Abruzzese.

P: Memory is a physical exercise
LU: Culture brings bad shit

LU: A man cannot give birth a woman can choose
P: Natural is all that is not sparkling

LU: Horses are carnivores turned vegetarian
P: Dinosaurs are made of bones

LU: Shark is a masterpiece dogfish is frightening
P: Pit bulls are mental projections

LU: Fate is not the fairy male
P: A geek with glasses is a fantasy image

LU: All Ukrainians are blond
P: Aunt is a sister

P: Life keeps your feet away from your ears
LU: A good posture makes you walk standing taller

LU: Who counts years will have death to reckon with
P: The wolf can’t count

P: Wool pinches sheep bite
LU: Sweet dreams

In a garden, a swing squeaks, swings light, not at all upset by the weight of P that was sitting on it.

Alan Stefanato, Pantomima xxx, Associazione Barriera, 2022, photo by Gabriele Abruzzese.

Chapter 2 – PeQ 

P thought back on that strange night he spent talking with Lu.
Days and nights flowed through the sky and Lu seemed more and more distant, mingled among the lights of nearby stars.
During the day, he often went for a walk in the village, without talking to anyone.
One Monday morning, as he walked down that famous road that led to the city’s bakery, something fell on him as from the sky, she was light, but not light enough to keep him from falling to the ground.
Confused, he stood up and looked around to see what had just happened to him.
She was small and bright in the morning light, surrounded by pebbles, she fried as high voltage cables fry. P kicked her.
It looked like she was made of porcelain, different shards assembled to form a new one.
“I’ll take her home and see what to do with her.
I don’t know what she is, what if I touch her and get burnt?”
Her features led to that conclusion.
P began to look around and search for something that could be useful to collect that thing. In his mind he was calling her that thing, Q.
At the corner of the street, entangled in the moldering wall, waved an old piece of cloth that looked like a skirt’s shred; it was black with stars embroidered on it. P took it.
With the cloth wrapped in his hands, P picked her up.
The feeling was that her weight changed like a liquid, keeping solid at the same, as if inside of her there was something hidden moving, giving the illusion of life.
The road home was not long, but it passed through the village crossing several people that P knew he had to shun –they would undoubtedly ask him questions.
He ran fast, holding Q to his chest, hiding her from glances and interrogations.
Instead he chose to put her in his pocket and keep walking as he was doing, slow pace, long stride, straight arms along his sides, so as to attract no attention and arouse no suspicion.
Q stirred in his pocket, his trousers sometimes dropped and P had to hold them up to his waist with nervous and funny movements; other times they rose to his chest, leaving his ankles uncovered.
“It’s too late now, I am already walking, I cannot start running at this point, I would look like a fool!
Let’s just hope that people don’t mind my pants”
They successfully passed two grandmothers sitting in plastic chairs, a gentleman drawn by his dog, a shady guy with a scarf reaching to his eyes. Nobody paid attention to P and Q.
There was not much left to go before P’s house, which was on a chestnut tree in a meadow.
A cold hand leaned on P’s shoulder.
He suddenly turned round as a cat caught in the act of doing serious and secret things.
Fastened to that hand flowed a long and hairy arm, a round, bald head, with curly, black side whiskers.
Small eyes guarded thoughts, indecipherable to P.
P shook his head as if to ask “what the fuck do you want?”
His question was clear. The guy replied:
“Where did you find that embroidered black fabric?”
Shaking that hand off his shoulder, P. looked down at his own body.
A hem of the cloth wrapped around Q waved proudly like a seaweed caressed by some stream or hot water flood. P immediately pushed it back into his pocket. Fortunately, Q had stopped stirring.
P didn’t answer and looked down.
“Where did you find that embroidered black fabric?”
Shiny black boots, elegant tight pants, scales belt, tank top, around the neck a chain with a star-shaped pendant that looked like a badge–all of this was helpful in better tracing the identity of that person. He was definitely a cop.
Having come to this conclusion, P took a step back, raised his head to look at the whole figure.
The cop was standing still and kept staring at him.
“I found it on the ground”, replied P.
“Where exactly? Don’t worry, I won’t steal it from you, I’m a detective and I just need to know where you picked up that piece of cloth.”
“I found it down the street”.
Since this is not a detective story, the investigator stopped asking questions and left, listening to the directives of P, going back where he had probably come from.
P looked at him for a moment and when his image became very small, P started walking again and Q came back to life.
He was getting used to the movements and unusual shapes that his pants took thanks to the strange magic of Q. It seemed like magic.
The meeting with the investigator had strangely not upset him, the fixed thought was to go home and try to understand what Q was.
The village was now behind, passed, in front of him, a little before the horizon, home!
Gneeek! was the noise that the door made when P opened it, only with P the door sounded like that.
The interior of P’s house.

Alan Stefanato, Lu, 2022. Photo by Gabriele Abruzzese.

A sofa, a table, shelves with a few books on it, a coat hanger with a bizarre hat, wooden floor, high ceilings, a window, little natural light, cables with bulbs at their ends that could illuminate the room when it was dark, if lit, a camping stove with a glass and a plate next to it, no traces of cutlery, P would eat with his hands, no sink full of dishes to wash, P when he would finish eating would throw dirty dishes and glasses out the window, the east side of the house looked like a field for clay pigeon shooting, he was lazy, clean plates and glasses were not missing, the problem was dirty ones.The sofa rested with its back against a wall, the wall hid another room, it was the kitchen, the kitchen could be reached crawling through a hole that had the purpose that doors have, you could go through it one at a time, the kitchen, he called it that way because that’s where dreams boil at night. It was a bedroom, with just a mattress lying on the floor and no clean sheets to cover the effect of the weather. No window, no light bulb, darkness.
P finally pulled Q wrapped in her cloth out of his pocket and leaned it over the table. Q was motionless, P stood and watched.
He took heart and set her free.
Different shards assembled to form a new one.
She didn’t fry anymore.
Q stared at P as certain objects inhabiting the shelves of those musty smelling-houses.

Alan Stefanato, Pantomima xxx, Associazione Barriera, 2022, photo by Gabriele Abruzzese.

The room and all the objects that normally lived there seemed different, the silence that usually filled the house now occupied the mind of P who turned it into a buzz of distant incomprehensible voices resembling the shouts of marketers busy with pronouncing magic formulas to enchant the highest possible number of buyers.
The wooden table turned on itself like a dog chasing its own tail, the sofa melted like wax when it met fire, the shelf with books on it, the bizarre hat and cables became one, circling like paper in school classes, folded and folded by bored kids, glass and plate were having hysterics, the camping stove tried to calm them by circling around spreading gas, it was saturating the room with impending irremediable complications, the window slammed on itself as if screaming for help!
P filled his lungs with air trying to keep it as long as possible, his face red, his eyes squeezed around his nose, his swollen cheeks, 1, 2, 3, 4 helped him to scan the time to try to survive that madness he was suffering 5, 6, 7 the air came out of his mouth, going flat he fell on his knees. He opened his eyes, relieved, he recognized his room.
Nothing I described seemed to have ever happened.
Q was still, P on his knees saw her from a new perspective, the horizon created by the table made her look as big as a mountain, he looked at her with admiration, he had not understood what she was, he didn’t care anymore.
Knees and palms pulled P through the passage that led to the kitchen.
On the lying mattress he stared at the darkness that reminded him of the silence that shortly before had turned into that strange experience.
Q was happy in her new home, the wood of the table collapsed around her, it looked like an old couch, that piece of starry fabric on which she was resting reminded her of her old home, which was now far away in the sky.

 

Alan Stefanato (Trieste, 1992) is an artist based in Turin. He works mainly with oil painting, questioning its processes and figurative implications. Through color, movement, illusion and trickery he triggers mechanisms of discovery and improvisation.