We were the bored storytellers that day, my lover and I – we were two exhausted big cats sprawling on each other in the silence of deep breaths. So we went shopping together – we went out and paced around Piccadilly and Bond Street, by the lush window displays and through the clothing racks, attuned to the movements and the sounds and the gaze of each other, curious of the choices to be made and the looks to be created – trying on identities we might never end up having, sizes of self we’ll never achieve- fits that don’t match our projections of who we want to be.
PATRIS – Now let’s play a game.
STEPPENWOLF – Why?
PATRIS – We do escape from boredom when we shop but you can’t expect it to work indefinitely. Boredom takes up roots in habit quite easily.
STEPPENWOLF – Alright, so you want to have a game of uprooting.
PATRIS – Not really, I don’t have any intention to weed out boredom. I’d rather use it.
STEPPENWOLF – In what?
PATRIS – In shifting perspectives – in renewing us… Let’s take pictures.
STEPPENWOLF – Come on, what pictures? Selfies that are going to keep us busy in trying to fake the lack of boredom?
PATRIS – No. I only go for those which function as an outlet to the type of creativity that springs from boredom – willfully intended to chart life, to pinpoint moods, states, ways in which we communicate with our environment – pictures able to provide a stage on which to play with nothing more than the way we already are. Making one’s life wealthy and pleasurable relates to such small matters too – as a symptom at least – it reveals the tools of awareness one has. Awareness, not deception, mind you.
STEPPENWOLF – Let’s play a game, then.
The game involved more than capturing ourselves changing skins in the fitting room. We realized we needed something beyond different scoops on our life at that moment – beyond different viewpoints. I had fresh in mind ideas on the techniques of self, techniques of understanding it, techniques of adding to it – and soon I realized I wanted us to learn with the photos, not merely become aware of ourselves through them. He was right – I did have a drive to uproot boredom, to almost pretend it’s not there. People who are not bored cannot tell stories. People who tell stories are Scheherazades delaying the biggest death of life, delaying boredom.
So we didn’t just take pictures of who we already are – we fooled around trying to dress as the story of characters we chose for each other – and maybe store some of their self-building technologies for future us, for future use.
We met in bed that night, again two big cats sprawling – but this time not in silence.
PATRIS – I think I have a great impersonation of the character you gave me, Sargent’s Madame X.
STEPPENWOLF – I’m proud of my Dr. Pozzi too.
We threw our phones open on the bed, between postcards of the paintings we’ve aimed to emulate – we displayed our photos to the other’s judgement.
PATRIS – I went for the shock factor Madame X gained a reputation by. Dramatic contrasts with very simple means and a dress which ‘perfectly undresses’, as Theo Gautier once put it. I didn’t intend to copy anything but the reaction it’s supposed to incite in the viewer – a daring dress to be scolded for, a contorted pose bordering the unnatural, a sense of vanity I didn’t bother to conceal. And yes, I’m aware this is not a self-portrait and I quite obviously took a selfie but I’m very sure she would’ve done the same if she could’ve. She had it exhibited at the Salon, for the whole of Paris to see back when Paris was the whole world, or the whole world that mattered, in any case. She would’ve definitely posted it on Instagram nowadays.
STEPPENWOLF – It looks so. I was more literal. You see, I stuck with the way he posed, the angle just slightly shifted. We’re both wearing the casual clothes we have on at home – the outfit we’d meet our close friends in, the one that makes us feel comfortable.
PATRIS – You know, I don’t think we could’ve impersonated them if we weren’t just a bit similar. Bored as we were, we couldn’t really act as someone we’d never be, we couldn’t tell stories that couldn’t be ours.
STEPPENWOLF- Of course – what would be the point in that?
Afterwards we weren’t bored for another whole day.
Walter Benjamin, ‘The Handkerchief’
Michael Foucault, ‘Technologies of the Self’
Patricia Beykrat – the Roving Aesthete