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Julia Cremers

Autumn 2016, What it means to be an after-postmodernist.

14 min read


We, after-postmodernists (no better title so far), live in constant doubt: a reality without fundamentals in which the essence of every object is infinite, that of its opposite too, actually, and “the knowledge system" itself can be thought of, at best, as an interconnected web of endless spheres.

Steven our lecturer is a friendly man. Cheerful, quick, energetic. He walks around with a broken leg and laughs at his own jokes. I appreciate people who laugh at their own jokes.

We live in a world where the only existing subject matter is the potential. We live in a time, a time, the now. Now. Now. We live in a time where the ultimate representation represents the possible, multiple real. Oh. There’s absolutely a nebulous around the artworld, one that sucks you into its grid; one that decides who receives grants and who doesn’t. But there’s always a grid, which connects a table with a chair, a kitchen table with a stove and a chair with a rock to sit on. Oh dear, don’t worry. Interesting meaning can be created by purposely drawing a connection between things that seem unrelated at first. And that’s the art! It’s that simple! Steven concluded.



Autumn treats me generously. A great school, sweet friends, wood to build a house, a plane ticket to Athens funded by school, free furniture, interesting teachers, a room in a beautiful house. You have absolutely deserved it, my mother decided. And even though I find that difficult to believe, the search for meaning has made me close to supersticious. 


The night before I had left for Norway I was, all of a sudden, worried. Two filled suitcases and a bed to sleep in found on facebook were the only preparations I had done, so I hastily prepared myself for some mental distress of moving to another country in a city where I knew no one, whatever that would really entail. But I got on the plane as if it was a bus and took a bus from the airport to Bergen as if nothing unusual had happened. Eleven hours later the first day of school started, and even though everything around me had changed, when I walked through Bergen I noticed I had stayed completely the same. If anything, moving, made me more aware of me.
I was only half mistaken.


Water is the thing that connects all human beings, an artist had said during a presentation. We consist for 70% of water, we drink water to refresh our bodies. The water supply on earth will not get more and not get less. To think that the water in our bodies has possibly been the rain in a desert, and that my water could become yours...


I sleep on Sigrid's mattress, on four pallets I had found on the street. A lot of people had helped me carrying pallets from one street corner to the next: A French woman who was in Bergen for work. Two Asian girls who had been out fishing. A Polish guy who was walking with crutches (mental support), and a Scottish guy who worked in a submarine and was on holiday. It made me think. About that my watch was a present from my mother's ex lover. My rings are second hand. I got the silver bracelet from my mom, just like the golden one, its hanger from a friend. My skirt is second hand, my bedlinen is second hand, my vest is second hand. The map of Norway was a present from my grandfather. My bags are second hand, my jacket is second hand, my raincoat is second hand. My bra was my mom's. My new phone a present from my grandparents. The room I am living in had been rented out to others before me. Even my existence depended on my parents sleeping with each other in the backyard of a house in Eindhoven at my mother's twenty-ninth birthday.


The exchange of air is the thing that connects all human beings and all nature, an artist had pointed out in a film. Think about it: you inhale what a plant has produced and you exhale what a plant will breath in.


What shall I say? I don't think I necessarily deserved any of it. But I love the feeling of jumping into the sea, getting out of the water into the sun and breathing the fresh air.


A lecture performance:
An enthusiastic cyber feminist and hacker talks for an hour about the binary system; the woman and the man; a dick and a hole, meaning can be made; both are needed. Therefore more female representatives in a man-led cyberworld are needed, to keep the right balance between something and something else. "Big-Daddy" (the feminist artist mentioned this word a lot): a one-sided view ensures a flat representation; it can seem realistic and is unnoticebly dominant. So as a counteract,
 some explicit cyber feminists started to call each other cunts (see: A Cyberfeminist Manifesto for the 21st Century, 1991). I don't like binary thinking much. I often prefer the variable in-between.



In theory class our teacher Alena mentioned (and said: I know it is a weird example but it was the first thing that came to mind) how you can not throw a tomato in your hand: the state of not-throwing holds more possibilities than the state of throwing does. I did not agree: not-throwing is just a different choice. Choices are made one by one, the second is a follow up of the first, there is no in-between choice: not choosing is a choice. And what about the different possibilities of not throwing the tomato? Different ways of keeping it in your hand, different ways of touching it? Tossing it carefully, catching it differently? Different moments to throw? According to our lecturer Steven the possibilities would probably be infinite, as always. The question of my interest is: do I know when it will be perfect? 
Maybe that is the thing between a zero and one; the real hole: doubt?
But the answer is: Of course I do. Just not yet.


Quitting smoking, a memory:
Dorota gave me an orange at a dinner. Throw it. She said. (I had come to her after I had smoked cigarette and said I felt weak). I looked at the people around me and at the orange in my hand. Throw it.
I shook my head.
You can imagine yourself throwing it, right? Do you feel it?
You can also decide not to throw it, and keep it in your hand.


Binary decision making:
Anna and I have a good way of decision making. When there is something to do (exhibition opening, party, etc.) and we actually want to stay in, we toss a coin. There's one rule: the coin can only be tossed once. It absolutely works.  


Eating healthy:
According to various websites, eating canned tomatoes (doubtlessly cheaper than fresh tomatoes) is better than not eating tomatoes at all. It became a joke: "Eating taco's is better than not eating at all.", "Drinking beers is better than not drinking at all."


Actual dreams:
I have the craziest dreams since I am in Norway. About half-cats half-mermaids and winning the nobel prize in literature with a story of 200 pages, handwritten on loose papers in no chronological order, with children's drawings, about family affairs. All the stories are bustled, the jury said, there is no structure, it's a mess. We found that every family can relate to this text, it is very to the point, in that sense. We love it. You have won the nobel prize.
In another dream someone wanted me to walk his dog but I didn't want to follow his orders. At that moment I woke up. Suddenly. But when I closed my eyes again the dream continued. Waking up made me realise that I had been dreaming; I didn't actually have to act on what the dream person told me to, so while falling asleep again I explained this logic to him. But he replied: Well that's not funny! Only because it is a dream to you doesn't mean that my dog doesn't have to be walked. In my reality this still has to happen! I gave this some serious moral consideration. This is my dream, I decided, I do not have to listen. So I walked away from him.  


I had never imagined this! I came here, in terror, without any new idea's. You come here to learn, I told myself, and learning does not necessarily mean practical plans; you are doing fine. "Are you all bursting with new ideas to try out?" my tutor had happily asked his new students. I did not even blink. But now I feel like I am swimming in an open sea, all these directions to go to, while the only thing I have to do is follow my own interests. And there are a lot. All these interests, all these unknowns. 
I told myself: the unknown is known, you just don't know that you know it yet. And so I figured out that doing stuff without knowing exactly, can bring you, if you pay attention, exactly to where you want to be. I am, without a doubt, exactly here, here, here. So very fortunate. What a luxury to not know exactly and to still have the feeling that I'm exactly at the place where I have to be. It's really unbelievable! So when I was drunk I asked a guy I passed on the street: Can you tell me what you think you deserve? Man, woman; we all count as human, maybe we can demand to deserve things? It was a tricky question. He did not have an answer. 


A random present I received from a classmate.

Organising. Ordening. Making up and codifying. Inventing one coherent structure in which you can express anything. Everything. The Norwegian language is only 4000 words large. Letters, words, are just a material. Possibilities. The writing teacher tells us how happy he is to know that every individual will read his poems differently; the poetic landscape is a synthetic one and should make sense through its own internal structure, impregnated with meaning from the readers own associations, like tarot cards, and the author can relax and watch tv shows. The limitation of the amount of words is important; like dots, which could point into a direction. See, when a human is presented with something random, he will look for a connection and find one. And in my mind I add: but I should be careful about what lines I draw, meaning can get tangled and that's confusing. That is surreal.


A Danish writer explains his view on holes between different stories: a good story can be complete on its own, but the most interesting thing does not happen by just touching the surface, it's the relation between two which expresses meaning; it happens in the exchange between the lines.


I participated in a performance where an artist walked with me for thirty minutes while I had my eyes closed, in and around an empty swiming pool. There were no spectators. She took me by the arm at first, but later we communicated only through our fingers, touching each other in a slow improvised dance; the fingertip contact was just a confirmation that we hadn't lost each other nor the way, and afterwards we thanked each other and she confessed that she had had her eyes closed most of the time too. What did you feel during the walk? She asked me. Trust, I answered.


At home, I climbed on the roof and rearranged the pieces of wood to make sure the right side was turned up. I opened the package of the new drill. I had bought a new one because I broke the old one. The base of my house was made out of pallets and a window I had found on the street, connected with the left over beams from the art installation in the swimming pool where I had walked around with my eyes closed. I didn't exactly know what I was doing, I have never built a house. But as long as I was careful it would work. The beginning went well. Only just before I climbed up to the roof, something strange happened. Suddenly. A Skype call brought me in touch with the past. Reality shifted in front of my eyes in a two and four dimmensional glitch. I drilled a hole in the wood, carefully took a screw out of my pocket and held it between my thumb and forefinger in front of the hole I just drilled. The understanding of the present altered the past. It has always been like that, I just hadn't seen it, I noticed. I had my eyes closed by mistake. Hey, someone had answered, that's not funny: I can't help that your emotional state alterss your reality, you suck yourself, into that grrid, and said: first you made me into your Chessboardking and now it's someone else. Chess. The grid doesn't exist in reality you know there's only an intrument; a play, and I was really only kidding, you know? 
I should have left you years ago, I should have known you could not keep your promisses. Can't help that you've made me the ssenter of your universe and now you do it again to someone else. You are building a house? Does it have solar panels? You know a real house should have solar panels don't you? I had said: If there is one thing I regret, it would be that I once believed you were the only one I could ever really love; that the world was evolving around you even after we split, because now I know I was mistaken. A common rage. Yess, indeed: Misstaken. Why believe anything at all? I drilled the screw into the wood. Made a mistake. Undrilled the screw, broke the drill, took another piece of wood, climbed on the roof, rearranged the pieces and drilled another hole. I enjoyed Skyping with you a lot, let's talk again soon, we can discuss the relationship we had and some frustrations, disscover, maybe the sublime is what you do to me, the good and the bad. I still love you, the ssame, I admire you.


I do not want to get addicted to anything, Lea had said when we were laying next to the sea in the sun some time ago.
Not even to love?
We considered this for a long time. 


My teacher had asked me if I was a smoker. I answered that I was not, but still only physically withdrawn.


In the waiting room of the 'Service Centre for Foreign Workers' I am waiting for my turn. On my lap lies a folder with the registration form, my rental contract, a letter from school, and my European passport. For the first time in my life I actually enjoy this "bureaucratic nonsense". While listening to music I am writing the lyrics of a new song. There's a house waiting to be completed at home. Since a few days I own a second hand piano. Which, in line with Anna's tradition of giving names to precious objects (her skateboard is called Hardanger) is called: Julia A up to and including G#. I am working on a great project with the help of different technical teachers at school and the stimulation and trust from my tutor. It has started to rain again, after a long period of sun. I don't mind. My mother gave me a beautiful cape, I feel like a superhero when I wear it. Independent. I inhale deeply. It smells fresh. It feels good to be back to the base of my reality. 


And on this note I will enter the winter:
After finishing my home I will leave Norway for a little while to go on a great adventure in South-Eastern Europe.