It’s so sad, she thought. Soon he will die, and I will always be here.
As she was kneeling over it, she heard him shuffle loudly into the room. He thought he was being subtle and unobtrusive, but she could hear him long before he entered. He was a small man, although not without strength. He was wide where he should be thin, and thin where he should be wide. Scampering far ahead of his thoughts, she spoke first.
“It is an ocean. An ocean unlike any now in this world,” she said quietly so that he would shamble closer. He came to a stop, frozen by her right shoulder.
“It’s beautiful,” she heard him say as he scanned the multitude of thin, eerily blue swirling lines with his eyes. He would follow the flow of each line, entranced, trying to find its end. Failing to find one he would flick his eyes to another point and start all over again. He seemed to get stuck somewhere and his mouth hung ever so slightly open. He took a long breath in, focusing on the whole painting he parted his lips and spoke. “Does it have a name?”
“The ocean has a name, yes, but this name was never known to the ocean.” She looked sad to him.
“Of course. Well I mean… the painting. Does it have a name?” When he could see that she was not going to answer he stammered on. “What can you tell me about it?”
“It is a collection, a collection of lines on canvas.” She paused to lower her eyelids, an act taking much longer than one would expect. It was more than that. Although he was standing behind her, he had the distinct impression that her eyes had rolled and become fixated back into her head, into her mind. He could feel her gaze going onward through him and he wasn’t sure how to feel about it.
He could hear her begin to speak, but his ears seemed to sleep. “It is also a collection of memories. Between these lines lies our history, drowned in deep crevices of salt and rock. Antiquity engraved along the curves. A relic of fire and ice. I have seen it all. I have seen the mineral for the rock, the dirt for the soil, the water for the sea, the blade for the grass, the tree for the forest, and the man for the tribe.”
He could feel an unsettling knot of doubt bulge inside his chest, but he could not move or speak. He was frozen, but the room felt warm. She continued. “It is also a memory of the future, my prospective recollection. These arcs form our loop, our coil, our noose, our dreams and our salvation. I do not yet know where they go.”
For a time there was silence. His muscles relaxed and she woke all at once, taking in the exhaustion as she always did, waves pattering on her shore. “I’m tired. Take me back now,” she said. Her voice sounded much thinner to him, yet it filled the room.
He bent down to gently lifted her off the floor. As he did every joint creaked and every muscle groaned. He could have been standing for hours. She rose in complete silence, and he shuttled her out of the room by the shoulders.
Her arms were shaking.
Of course these were merely the tremors of an old, sick woman. Or perhaps, he had to wonder, were there vast tectonic plates moving in her mind. As if while recalling the vivid memory of some ancient earthquake, its dampened clashes of stone reverberated through time.
Meanwhile, the floor bled Silurian blue.
You can go see the Collection de l’art brut (outsider or raw art) in Lausanne, Switzerland.
It is home to as much as 60,000 works of art, created by 400 different artists.
The woman in the above text is Chiyuki Sakagami. She is billions of years old. Her painstakingly created art is displayed in the Collection de l’art brut. All dialogue is made up.