Saturday, July 21, 2012

Denkmal für einen verlorenen Handschuh

You wanted to kick this old glove aside
With your boot, but be careful:
You could do this in just about any place, but
Not near a museum of contemporary art today:
It is very difficult to decide not knowing
Whether it is lying here accidentally, or on purpose
By the artist's will. The most diverse kind of junk,
Metal scraps that can be found in any of our homes,
Fill museum collections today-
It is only the museum walls that impart value to them.
But what if beyond the walls there is junk, like this glove,
Lying near the entrance? The problem is entirely solvable.
You merely have to calculate subtly: just how close is it to the door.

The sun reflecting on the flowing water,
The noise of the water, a glove forgotten by someone -
All of this carries us away to a time when romanticism was in fashion,
And long poetic strolls, like here, for example-
Along the rapid Rhine, under the trees;
On one side the old city walls,
On the opposite side there is a dock, from where the boatman, fighting the current,
Transported you to the other side that is overgrown with trees.
To a time when students loved and could write verse
And published it, hiding behind pseudonyms ...
It's strange, but where could the poetry and strolls have vanished to -
And where are we rushing to in our tin boxes,
Not even noticing either the blue river, or the high clear sky ...

Like two drops of water, it is identical to the one she had left in the hotel,
The same kind of strap, the same color, reddish-orange.
We went just for two days which we decided to spend together.
To be totally alone together, so that no one would see us alone together ...
What time of the year was that? The last days of summer? No, probably it was fall:
The little boar we decided to take a ride on was leaving on its last run, there was no
                                                               one else aboard ...
Or was it spring? I can't remember when it was;
I remember only the tears of happiness in her eyes that we were together,
But more out of grief that we would part again.
Tears from the sad book which she had brought and left behind, unfinished.
And bitter tears over the forgotten glove, because she didn't remember
How this could have happened, and because she would never get it back ...

Red glove, red glove ... Hurrah, I have found the proof
Which I have been seeking for two months already!
And what has tormented me after the search all this time!
Exactly the same kind, only gray, was lying around the entry,
I didn't pay any attention to it - and was searching for proof in another place.
I had arrested the rascal, but she had to be released for lace of evidence!
The glove on the floor was NOT HER SIZE!
And it was just as small as this one, it was the glove for ANOTHER hand
That means that someone, the other woman that Mark told me about,
Was also with her. I need to return quickly,
Or else someone might accidentally throw it away.
Or, God forbid, might carry it off...

A red spot on gray- a strong, vivid stroke, what harmony!
Oh how the entire gray, depressing landscape resounds from this spot on the asphalt!
All the colors immediately come to life, begin to speak, the entire color palette all
                                                             around can be seen:
The yellow leaves, the pale blue of the river, the dull green of the trees.
Only one small red spot- but it shimmers so
Against the background of the gray earth, the gray buildings, the light gray sky!
Monet, Picasso, Renoir - they could really place
Such a stroke perfectly in the landscape!
The pearlescent harmony of colors play on their canvases:
It's a shame that the time of depicting reality, of drawing from real life has
                                                           passed irrevocably.
No one needs it now - there are only "concepts" all around,
Abstractions, "installations" and other lack of talent, stupidity.

No, I can't understand where the park administration is, what they are doing.
After all, someone should be looking after cleanness!
The question is why there is all kinds of junk scattered all over the place,
Dry branches, rocks on the path, lost gloves?
It's obvious that it is the responsibility of those who are driving around in
Special little cars to look after cleanliness; but nonetheless,
They don't see what is lying right before their eyes.
They don't understand that it is a shame for the city, especially if guests
                                                         should come to visit.
They say, presidents of other countries - I heard about that,
But it's somehow hard to believe -
What would they say about us, the residents, if they
See garbage like this at their feet -
I think that they couldn't say anything good.
Of course, I could pick it up myself and throw it away,
But why should I do the work for them when they are getting paid for it?

The glove of a right hand is lying there all alone, but where it its compagnon?
Everything has its counterpart, its second half.
Just like this glove, I have remained alone and it is unbearable
To experience and feel my loneliness!
I didn't even know that this would be so horrible while were together and everything
Was fine - we travelled a lot, we never separated,
He called me his sister, his child.
No one foresaw what happened, and I don't even know when he became dissatisfied with me.
He was always happy, even on that day when he left, not leaving me even one line of explanation.
Here, in our city, it is so sad, so impossible to remain alone,
Especially in our region when there aren't many people; you are forced to stay at home
Closing the door behind you. But loneliness is even more difficult to bear sitting at home.
You go out, run down the street - and you find this glove
In which, like in a mirror, you see your own fate.

... I bent down, took a closer look ... I thought the glove was leather, it turns out it's plastic ...
And again the same old pain, the same thoughts which torment me all the time:
Everything is now an imitation, there is nothing real, nothing is genuine, everything is fake.
My daughter made the walls "like wood" - but it is painted paper;
The parquet in the kitchen is done "like stone" - but it is linoleum;
Flowers I saw in one home were artificial;
They say they are laying artificial grass on the ground,
So it won't dry out and will be bright, like real grass ...
They say all of this is cheaper - what's the difference, everything thing looks real and is
                                                             even more practical,
So what? Interest in the genuine, the real was lost long ago
And will unlikely ever return ...
But don't those who talk like this realize that everything will become second quality
                                                                because of this,
And that our nature is being replaced by mere appearance, by deceit,
Our value, our attitudes and even to ourselves we are become
Merely ghosts, murky shadows among other shadows in the world surrounding us?

A lost red glove near the jogging path.
When I was young, I also ran along these paths.
We would run next to each other, we always ran together ...
I tried never to fall behind him, and he would hold himself back so he
                                                          wouldn't run too fast.
True, we ran here not in shorts and T-shirts,
Like they do now, totally uninhibited ...
And their heads uncovered as well, their hair flowing in the wind.
And I still remember when you couldn't even go outside
With an uncovered head. And we also ran in straw hats with short round visors.
I had a favourite hat with a wide blue ribbon.
Once, the wind blew it off as I was running, and it rolled around on the grass
                                                                  like a wheel ...
He took off after it ... caught it ... and came back with the hat
And a large yellow rose in the other hand.

Denkmal für einen verlorenen Handschuh (Monument for a Lost Glove)
by Ilya Kabakov

[Learn more here.]

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