25 February 2017 Opening: 25 February 2017, 17:00 – 23:00
Why would you go to the ocean when there is an infinite pool?
You're in the pool. The position of your body in the pool gives the illusion of immersion in the vastness of the ocean, it makes you feel small yet complete, as a minor part of a whole. Isn't it comforting? Beauty overflowing the ocean with indecency but the beasts swimming deep in the sea swirl it until they can also be. Goes plop! Splash! Breaking the silence. The dream of the horizon merging with the now won't happen. Why don't we go to the ocean already?
By Jorik Galama
It was after dinner on a deserted nudist camp site in southern-France that my little brother suddenly got an erection, a phenomenon that isn’t too uncommon among prepubescent boys. He had turned nine a few weeks before and said with a mixture of fear and surprise that something was inside his willie. While he aggressively started to squeeze it my mom tried to calm him by saying, with a sardonic smile on her face, that it happens when all your love is getting too concentrated in one body part. Me and my father turned our heads away with unease, looking at the yellow withered hills where grasshoppers had started their twilight concert. I foresaw that I would start crying soon and volunteered to do the dishes.
The week before I had been on a ten day windsurfing camp where I met two boys from another part of the country, who became the best friends I ever had. We tried to surpass each other in telling horror stories, crashed our boards on purpose, broke into the storehouse, made cigarettes out of everything that could burn and did most of the other things coming of age movies dictate. The realisation that I would maybe never see them again and soon go back to school with all the kids that seemed to make a sport out of ridiculing me, made me cry so often that my family had become numb. In addition, my mother's threat that ‘family holidays are among the worst duties to fulfill’ resonated in me during every picturesque castle we visited and every eclair we ate.
When I reached the sanitary facilities I decided to drop the little basin filled with dishes and walk uphill to the huge bamboo fringed pool. I watched the strokes of blue, red and purple sky drift on the still surface, stepped on the sharp gravel edge and turned my back to the water. Cold waves closed themselves above me and instead of doing the old act of miming to drink a cup of tea, I started to weep like I hadn’t for a long time. Air bubbles squeezed out of my nose and mouth and I wriggled my body as if I was burning in acid. I surfaced and gasped for air, checked carefully if no one was watching and submerged again to continue my one-man melodrama.
I had become a reversed version of the first fish that crawled on land, a fish that according to scientists could either have left the water to escape from predators or searched for solitude to hide its grief. Whenever I thought about the ten days of friendship that were drifting away and anxiety started to press on my chest, I ran uphill and dropped myself flat on the water, floated as close as possible over the tiled bottom, uttered inaudible howls, punched at some transparent demons, dried myself carefully and went back to my family with a marble face and bloodshot chlorine eyes.
I noticed that the few elderly French couples with whom we shared the campsite never seemed to make use of the pool. And while the sunbeds and sun umbrellas stayed unfolded, I started to treat the pool as my private territory, leaving comic books and bottles of soda lying around. When me and my brother had collected two bags of slate stone and my mother said ‘pick one because there’s not enough place in the car’, it felt like the most obvious solution to hide the stones in the pool. After careful calculations on the position of the sun, I decided that the left corner where the depth was three meters and the diving board casted a long shadow, was the best place to drop them. Swirling like leaves they formed an unrecognizable symbol on the turquoise tiles and as I chased them to build piles in the corner, the desire arose to adorn them.
Obsessively I started searching for little treasures to place on top of the stones, like snail shells, a miniature maria sculpture from an abandoned farm, petanque balls, a nearly empty bottle of Chanel that someone had left on a sink and a mosquito candle. Other objects, like a sealed cigar, a branch of lavender, the keycord I got at the windsurfing camp and a mummified frog that quickly started to absorb water and became all spongy, would float to the surface and had to be tied to a stone. The trashy shrine I created there, occupied me too much for dreariness and my father said the French sun had shown it’s healing impact once again. My little brother was the only one I took into confidence and proudly contributed with a golden champagne cork.
On the last day of our stay I walked to the pool with a small sundae parasol and tried to imagine how quick it would lose it’s color. I froze by the sound of splashing water and sneaked through the bamboo. An old man with cherry burned skin, that almost seemed to melt from his skeleton, pushed a giant fish net through the pool. I turned around while I pulverized the parasol in my hand.
Later that day the walls of the sanitary building, the activities board (that had stayed empty until then) and the door of the wooden reception bungalow, were covered with small posters. On it were two pictures, one vaguely showing my water garden from above and the other displaying all the objects I collected brutally piled up next to the pool. The caption said: ‘CECI EST UNE VIOLATION GRAVE DES RÈGLES D'HYGIÈNE!!!!!’ I calmly took one poster from the activities board, folded it and, since I wasn’t wearing any clothes, hid it inside my towel.