The Garden of Saint Paul’s Hospital, 1889, Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam – I saw this painting recently in Amsterdam. My favourite in the Museum. Incredible use of colour, but as with all Van Gogh paintings, you really have to see it in the flesh.
Drifters, migrants and non-citizens. We are united today, gathered together to form a voice, dissonant and unharmonious. We are hear to speak. To voice our opinions, beliefs and concerns. To let our sound carry through the air in bursts of joy and exhibition. We are gathered under no name. We are gathered under no guise. We are gathered under no principle and our voice is loud. We are the people who shall not be defined. We are the people who will not be coerced or shaped by cheap political premise. We are the people who will not be restricted by chains or wires, commerce or technology.
All exists to support us, for our intentions are neutral.
Wanderers, nomads, and gypsy’s. We are a disapora of meaning, a collation of thought, an embodiment of the disparate. We have consumed books of philosophical thought, listened to religious incantation, engaged in performances of artistic integrity. We have no aesthetic or uniform and we will come together despite this.
We have walked independently through fields and down roads. We have lived alone and in small groups. It has taken us time to realise, but when we did we acted. We are acting now. Forcing ourselves into view, demanding recognition and representation. They think they are running the country. They are not running the country. They cannot even see the country if they take the time to look from their windows. They see their reflections in the glass and groom themselves into gelled poses. We are filling the streets, we are talking in the parks, we are peaceful and motivated, mobile and amorphous. Growing by the day.
Nothing shall organise us.
Our bodies are dishevelled and our looks unkempt. We walk undirected. Some of us have science, some of us have god. Some of us have music and community. A travelling band of all specialisms. The circus is always leaving town.
Truants and deserters. Nameless itinerants bearing the burdens of tradition. We have families and we have come from neighbourhoods. We have travelled an unplanned pilgrimage in all directions, moving away from home to discover lands, fields, territories unfamiliar to us. To diversify. To understand. To evolve.
We have forged unions with those dissimilar to us. We have proven our adaptability, our willingness to accept, our love of difference. Some of us are enthralled by it. The traditions and upbringings of others. Their pasts, light with experiences distant to our own.
How can homogony exist in our world when the world is ours? When the world is still? When the faces of people are so disparate and their eyes are watching as all events unfold? We seek similarities, knowledge, togetherness. We seek change, representation and voice. We seek work and we seek stories. Both of which permit us. Bind us. Enable us.
Outsiders, immune to designation, we are ignorant of borders. We traverse to transgress. Move our bodies to move perceptions. Thought is in the steps we take. Together. Regardless of their direction. Like a dance at times, like a confusion at others.
Look at the land. Look at the mountains. Look at the ocean.
Nothing shall organise us.
Vagabonds of the known world. Inhabitants of the unknown worlds. Come hence and be counted amongst us. For we are those of the gathering.
The ones with the imitation wood veneer, as though seventy rings of an oak tree were framing this weeks soap operas. The metallic looking buttons would click heavily as you changed slowly between one of four channels, making actual decisions about how to spend your time.
They were somehow deeper than they were wide and radiated a violent heat through the plastic slats on the back, exposing bronze coils and frayed wires. Things you could actually fix if you needed to.
It was on Friday nights in the nineties that I discovered foreign films subtitling the enigmas of Poland and France to those who could stay awake in their bedrooms, drowning themselves in in the shallows of electric light. I would plug my headphones into the tiny socket to tune into the languages that I could not decipher even now.
These days you wouldn’t even think of getting out of your seat to turn over. The remote can get you from two to five hundred in less than a second. Even less exercise for the couch potato who prefers channels dedicated to food processors.
So when you fall asleep in your chair exhausted by the channels that refuse to default to a test-card, make sure you dream of the freeze framed square of light shrinking out of view with a hiss, behind a screen that was actually made of glass.
A dream set at night time. Men and women of different professions and classes, drifting from their illuminated doorways as though magnetised, compelled to be outside and associated, all accumulating in the road. The rusted hopes of suburbia parked alongside the pavement, windows reflecting the orange of the street lights. They moved in small steps with eyes wide, turning to check who was present before continuing in a zombie-like shuffle down the street. They were there in a shapeless mass like a cancer, or a mist. Nobody spoke, just exchanged glances and formed a tacit understanding among the group. Something was happening. There were pyjama’s, slippers and dressing gowns. A few cigarettes glowed in the hub, issuing plumes of smoke into the cold air. They stopped, the group, at the end of the road where it split into a T-junction. No lights came down from the skies. This was not otherworldly or cinematic. These people were compelled for tangible reasons. It had happened irrespective of the time. Change was palpable in the feelings of the street. In the minds of its citizens. Eyes blinked and necks craned. Still mute and bemused in the morning. All of these people gathered together and imagining they had a voice, standing there in silence, convinced.