27 April 2009

Shared space

I liked this - not beautifully written, but as I sit on my own in my studio flat, it said something to me. Semiotically this place is so under control, so perfect: the rectilinear lines, the street and found art on the walls, the fading tulips exactly matching the yolk yellow hue of the champagne bottle next to them. I have wood floors and orchids and my clothes are precisely rolled in their drawers - I know no other way to live now, and yet is this right? (He is in New York; no, it's not.)

I put so much energy into signs, into performance, such that these things become the meaning of the space and the codes by which I read it. But that language of reading: it presumes an audience and thus a fourth wall, an inside/outside relation. What happens when you share space, what is created, what is this topology of intimacy? Instead of the single dweller writing this controlled autobiography through possessions and pristine order, Garnett's ideas implicitly suggest a reversal of this relation - new spatial circumstances re-writing the self. In turn, this raises an idea that fascinates me: equivalency between the home and the body as both spaces in & through which we live. Through pristine accessorising, Garnett was forming herself - then the accessories change, and so does that self. Thus we find ourselves assemblages not individuals, and something about human-object relations becomes a little more focused.

"That's the thing about moving in with a lover: you can't prepare yourself for it, or lay down rules or decide how it's going to be. You just muddle through. But I was, at best, just muddling through living on my own, only with a better kitchen and more acccessories. And no-one to witness the boring bits. And though I've never been prissy I was, on my own, in my own nice flat, in danger of becoming tight-arsed. [...]

"Most of the time, you just have to be your normal, boring, human, honest self. If I've loved getting to know my boyfriend more intimately than I ever imagined I'd know anyone, then I've enjoyed watching my real self unfurl itself infront of somebody else. I've never had to do it before. But everyone who lives with someone does! Sometimes I'm amazed by this feat. It's so trusting and honest of us. Amazingly, my partner doesn't appear to mind when I am boring or ratty or over-tired or sad or blue. He just puts his arms around me and comforts me. He likes it less when I am unreasonable or determined to punish him for some perceived wrong, but then one of us makes a jump and we manage to get out of whatever heavy weather we've sailed into.

[...] "A more interesting lesson has been learning to live with myself. I don't mean that in a cheesy, self-help, 'You have to learn to love yourself before anyone else loves you' kind of way. I mean that when you live on your own you can wave away the bits you don't like about yourself to an extent, but when you live with your lover you can't. It's all thrown out in front of him and you can't take it back. It's like the tree in the forest: if no-one sees or hears it fall, does it actually topple? I did lots of toppling in that flat by myself and, of course, word seeped out. I went to therapy regularly, I had a good many close friends and they, as well as my family (most of my family), got to see me at my most boring and irritable. But you don't have to win your family over in terms fo love. And I didn't live with my friends. No. In this flat there is, day to day, me, my boyfriend and not that much else. But you don't need props, I've discovered, to live together, because what you're doing isn't a performance."

Daisy Garnett, 'Moving On', in Vogue September 2008

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