The Things Me and Cody Talked About While She Was Bleeding Out
When I was asked to write a four minute response to a piece of art that, from the photo link I’d been sent, seemed to be called “Everything” I didn’t have the first clue where to start, so I went to see my friend, the writer and artist Cody James.
She was in the bathroom when I called round but she shouted me to go in, so I did and sat on the loo seat. I asked her how I was meant to talk about everything in four minutes and if she minded helping me out. She was making the fourth cut when I came in and the water was already pink.
She said she’d give it what time she had.
I told her I thought the sculpture was divided into four parts, and that was about all I could remember from the picture.
She looked at me and said “I should tell you I took a shitload of warfarin.”
We laughed and I said, “It’s bullshit, isn’t it?”
“That’s exactly what it is,” she said. “You know, everything should take forever, or it should be over just like that, and no one even knew it was there.”
I wasn’t totally sure what she meant but I knew it probably had to do with a discussion we’d had on line about confessional art. No, wait, it was confessional writing, and Marc was saying all these things about how you had to use your imagination, and literature was about creation not mimicry, only he used some Greek words for it, and Cody told him that was bullshit, too much of real life’s about pretending, when we write we need to be shot of all that and peel the skin off the inside of our head and write the noise and the colour we see, just how it is. We’d all talked about generals and specifics and infinites and nothings, and I think she meant something like that, but there wasn’t really time to check.
I asked her what I should do, if I should walk straight off, or keep going on and on like Jimmy Stewart filibustering in Mr Deeds, or just say I thought the idea of everything in four minutes was a bit shit.
“Do what they want you to do,” she told me. “Tell them a story.”
I explained that was the problem, I had no idea how to write a story about everything, or about four minutes, or about how stuff was a bit shit.
“It should be a story about how you can only fit everything in forever or in nothing at all.”
I told her that wasn’t very specific, and she said it was. She said it was the most specific thing of all, that was the point, but she was already starting to drift.
“You know what,” she said, really loudly it seemed, so loud I forgot all about the blood, and it felt like we were back in the coffee shop on Ken High St. “If you need to ask me what story to tell, maybe you’re not a writer at all.”
I told her she really didn’t take any bullshit and she told me that was damn right.
I asked her if she minded talking like this and she said there was nothing she’d rather talk about, and then she started asking me what colour the sculpture was. I couldn’t really remember. I’d only seen the photo, but she wasn’t having that and kept asking me to tell her what colour were the walls, and what colour were the things inside them. You could only see one of the sections in the photo Emily sent round, but I closed my eyes and remembered as hard as I could and started reciting shapes and colours and relations.
And she said “That’s exactly it”
I will be performing this piece at Modern Art Oxford on October 29th. Come and say hi