Ever had that feeling of being at the edge of the world?
Obviously not literally, but a sensation, feeling that if you stepped off the place you were standing, you’d be heading into an unknown?
There are places on the planet some would dub, ‘the end of the world’. My aunt just sent me a photo from Ushuaia in Argentina. Located at the southern tip of South America, it’s known in tourist hype as ‘the town at the end of the world’. I’m a little jealous having wanted to go for a long time, but never finding my way there (I have a thing for llamas – she promised to bring me back a t-shirt with one on it – huh!). Then, she and her husband are off to Antarctica. And to my imagination, that is a place that feels like journeying into an unknown.
Before going, I told her to read Marie Darrieussecq’s novel, ‘White’.
Darrieussecq’s writing is evocative, immediate and exciting. I came across her work while doing my PhD in art history/installation art (which I walked away from), and a wonderful fictional story she wrote to accompany an exhibition of Louise Bourgeois, ‘Dans la maison de Louise’. It was a text that influenced my own ‘Art Stories’ project. I’ve avidly read her work since then.
‘White’ is the story of two engineers, Edmée and Pete, both escaping their lives, to work on Project White in Antarctica, at a station 15 kilometers from the South Pole. Both seek a kind of tabula rasa – a beginning, an end; an emptiness that might wipe clean traumatic experiences they want to distance or inure themselves from. An escape that threatens to become a journey into a blanketing nothingness. Soon, the very landscape - isolated, magnificent, primal, dangerous – takes a hold of their lives, becoming a mirror for their inner struggles; a force that brings them together in a kind of fateful vortex. And then there are the ghosts. Trapped spirits who are the observers of this tale, they swirl around Edmée and Pete, a tightening web of unseen influencers.
It’s a love story at the end of the world.
I hope she reads it, but I have a feeling she’ll be too caught up in her own adventure.