Anakana Schofield – Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

Sometimes I think it is foggy and I am interrupted in this thinking

There was again a hint of fog yesterday. A friend texted me to report it was rolling up the hill! A most generous gesture. However the fog did not reach our recent fog capacity. By this evening, I exited the Vancouver Art Gallery to the least celebratory of rains. A smearing type of rain, with one redeeming feature. It did not flood your shoes.

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Today was the final installment of the PuSh Festival project Sometimes I think, I can see you (Mariano Pensotti) that I’ve been working on for the past three weeks. It has been a curious study in response, boundaries, public space, movement, exhaustion, repetition — and most poignantly for me, interruption. What is it for text (created realtime) to interrupt public space and respond to movement, to speculate on that movement or fictionalize it and then or perhaps now contemplate the response to that fiction.  It was diverse and darting the response. From the warm hugs, loud laughter, genuine confidant who would share the other side of “their story” to the restrained, to the affronted, the indifferent, confused and much more inbetween.

I’ll share a moment from today Sunday. A young woman who I had fictionalized on the screen as a skateboarder jumped to her feet, took to the foyer of the VAG and broke out twice in some fairly wild break dancing.

And yesterday, a woman and her daughter passed me on the street on my way to VPL and we exchanged a bit of banter about boots. Later I noticed them walking and watching the installation as I wrote, so I added them into my fiction. Finally I bumped into them again on the third floor at the Human Library PuSh project and we had a great old natter about our various encounters that day: the real and the fictional.

I had multiple experiences with this kind of exchange with members of the public who would chat once I had finished my writing shift and I am grateful to those people who approached and spoke with me so warmly about their experience on the other side of it. Thank you to the public for their collaborative, warm spirit and even to the resistors (or affronted) since resistance or objecitng in itself is a response. It’s a response to public art. It’s a response to the interruption that is public art. And it causes us to examine what we are prepared to be interrupted by? Must interruption have a purpose? What is the relationship between interruption and entitlement? Do the entitled feel they are above interruption? What is the relationship between interruption and social class and how does interruption manifest itself in other parts of the city ? And to return to the project brief what of the silent interrupter, the hidden documenter, what of the surveillance camera or drone? What if the charting is quiet, passive and secret rather than bold and declaratory?

Thank you to the PuSh Festival for including me in this project and to my fellow writers who participated and the volunteers who helped out and the staff at the various locations.

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Fog recall, peace be among the pigeons

I thought I caught a much welcome smell of fog earlier, however it did not build at the volume I had hoped and create actual fog. We are clamped beneath the worst grey sky, practically being erased with gloom. Bring back the rolling, bowling fog. Come home foggy. We suit fog. We don’t suit grey.

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Week II at Sometimes I think, I can see you (PuSh Festival) was more challenging than our blast off week. The pigeon wars have commenced at VPL, which added to the challenge. Also, physically the act of sitting and writing non stop for two hours under the public gaze — the performative demands therein are exhausting. However it is never uninteresting (except perhaps during the last 20 mins when I am desperate for a cup of tea and my brain has written itself inside out) and I continue to be glad of this opportunity and somewhat Oulipian encounter.
What will the third week reveal?

I certainly have even more respect for anybody who works with or within the public relentlessly and would appeal for patience and respect toward such folk rather than swollen entitlement and footstamping. Likewise I’d urge the same appreciation of public art and public writers! Interrogate the interruption, bounce along the ropes that the boundary of having somebody writing in public space creates for you and please find some place else to chase your pigeons rather than into our fatigued eyes.
Generally though the public engagement has been very good spirited and warmly receptive and people seem genuinely intrigued by the boundaries we are blurring and narratives weIMG_0001 are creating.

On Sunday a most wonderful thing happened during our piece at the VAG, a woman/artist watching/reading my stories on the screen handed me this sketch she had drawn of me writing. It was a lovely response, a looping in and out of the text. I was most touched. Thank you Erin.