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Verbascum

Plans are forming. I am thinking of getting this as a patch myself.


Also works in black&white I think.

Thanks for looking and reading



um:hausen


A flyer for the play um:hausen, written by Martin Plattner,
that premiered in Innsbruck June this year. 

Everyone is looking for a murderer, even though noone has died yet. A "deathlist" has appeared 
in a small village. Twenty people are supposed to die. Postcards and phone calls promising death have shaken the small community. This "phantom" becomes a projection space for old fears and conflicts.
Find out how a crochet needle features in it.

What makes this story even more unsettling is the fact that it is based on a true story. 

Martin Plattner & Martin Zistler have collaborated longer than I've known them (Ten years now, oh dear!) and I've never known them to produce something not worth seeing.
Martin Plattner, aside from the fact that he is the most wonderful person to have hours and hours of conversation and coffee with, he is also a very talented writer. He does not like the word author so I am going to call him a wordsmith. He does not merely use language to tell stories, but bends and sometimes breaks it, only to put it back together in a way that gives language a meaning beyond a simple means of transport. While that sounds very brutal, his prose is as light and fluffy as a Gugelhupf.
Well, who said you couldn't beat someone to death with a piece of cake. 
Please have a look (and a listen!) at his work here: 










THAT'S WHAT MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND

Almost forgot! I did a T-Shirt for the Green party in Vienna a little while back.
Owning three bicycles (Heinz, Traudi & Fungus - yes, they all have names) that brief was a pleasure to do. Thank you Martin for thinking of me.
SPREAD the LOVE for the BIKE!

Should you want to you can purchase a T-Shirt please go HERE.
Check out www.grünzeux.at in general,  a shop where T-Shirts and other lovely knick-knacks are being sold. Available with and without political affiliations.

And yes you should get THAT song stuck in your head again...
up and down.
smile and frown.









Opa - the second time around

Sometimes you just have to do it again. A friend of mine gave me this wonderfully aged or fucked up (depending on your sensibilities) piece of wood. Handing this in for a drawing competition on Monday, so wish me luck.

The studio of studios, almost got a sunburn




MY GRANDMOTHER THE ANTIFEMINIST

My grandmother is a prolific knitter of socks and crocheter of slippers. She has a reference footprint of each family member. And now my boyfriend has been added to the collection and given a pair of slippers. (He wears them like the medal of honor they are).

I moved away from home ten years ago and visit home regularly but not often. It´s hardly suprising that striking up a conversation beyond the weather with a woman in her mid-eighties can be a bit difficult. As I sat down next to my Oma inbetween her wools and needles I thought I had found the perfect conversation piece. But Oma took the conversational sledgehammer to me. It took me totally by suprise since I thought I was only making small-talk.

"Ah, you know my boyfriend wears his slippers so much they have a hole in them again. But he´s not fixing them, even though I showed him how to last time. Too lazy..."

My grandmothers face hardened as she slowly let a half-knitted sock sink onto her lap.

"Iris", she said "YOU have to do that"

I blinked. "What?"

"YOU have to fix his slipper." Her stony glare told me that she was completely serious. I often complain about the fact that my mother did not give me her grey-blue eyes that are a trait of her side of the family. When used correctly they can produce an incredibly effective stare. My grandmother certainly had the time to perfect it.

My mother poked her head in to say the coffee she had made for us was ready.
A welcome opportunity to flee. When I relayed the encounter to her she laughed.

"That´s what her generation is like" she said, stirring her coffee.

Surely not. I have heard stories of marxist grandmothers handing their grandchildren stones to throw at the police. Of Business owners and divorcees of that generation. It can´t be just a generational thing. Sure, I come from a strictly catholic working class family. But surely it can´t be just social environment either. I was the only one of my family to move away from home and acquire higher education. Even against the will of my parents. So is it really just a matter of personal choice? I guess most people shy away from the consequentional responsibility of that thought.
Not since my childhood, when clear lines were drawn between me and my brother, had I been faced with such a blunt statement concerning my role as a female.

My grandmother cornered me again later in the greenhouse. As I put down the buckets she had asked me to carry for her she turned to me.

"You have to fix his slippers. It´s not like you can do everything."

I smiled at her even though I could feel a familiar anger rise up inside me, because when I was a child I had believed her.

"Yes, I told her, "I can do everything."

She turned away, dismissively shaking her head. I did not want to get into an argument with her. That is not true. I really WANTED to get into an argument with her and bang the drum of my empowered self. But bombarding her with feministic slogans would neither change her mind nor further our understanding of each other. Put another way: I knew I could not explain to her that she could do everything as well. Because she accepted and partly had to accept the restrictions put on her she could not see that they did not apply to me.

I loved her no less when I kissed her on the cheek to say goodbye.
Sometimes that is all you can do. Respectfully decline other peoples views and make yourself a living example of yours.

THE BIG ONE

And here it is. At a proud size of 1,5 x 5 meters this is the biggest print I have ever done. Feel
free to scroll through it.
Thank you to everyone who helped!



The canvas is linen, so I had to iron it on the wall to avoid creasage. Pictures were taken
by the most talented Tom Mayr.



Here´s some detail shots for you:





Now, just who has a wall big enough for this?

BARBERSHOP BLUES

Honi soit qui mal y pense


My hair is bleached and it has been for years.  And I mean "really" bleached. It took me several years to get into my hairdressers heads that I wanted WHITE hair. Emulating a natural blonde was never my thing. I wanted the artificial. Keeping the stereotype of attractiveness without that of stupidity. At least in my mind. But then again I have always been very eclectic what enters the self-construction of my identity and what doesn´t.

The first time it happened was kind of an accident. I kept it.
Partly because of recognizablity (I know that on several occasions people have been sent in my direction with the words:"Look for Iris with the white hair"). Partly because, believe it or not, the blonde factor exists. Don´t you deny it! Attention, male or female, went way up as soon as I joined the peroxide-brigade. 
I swear there is a point to all this beyond the intense love affair I have with my haircuts. (I know that all of you just sit there and think: When is she going to start about dicks? Hang in there, no pun intended.)
I have enjoyed being a blonde immensely.
From affectionatly being called "the little blonde" to making up ludicrous stories (for whoever was stupid enough to believe them or in need of entertainment) about the traumas that made my hair go white.  But I start to feel a little too grown up for it. Gasp! The bad word. Forever young. Forever infantalized. Forever blissful ignorance.
Well, you may have had a bloody good time growing up. I didn´t. So my "youth" is not this glorified era of perfect skin and perfect skinny jeans. It´s one of the darker drawers in my memory that I only open on special occasions.
Having white hair is time and cost consuming. Not that "that" matters, it just depends on your attitude. When you are out of money at the end of the month what do you buy? Groceries or cigarettes? Right.
When I started this journey I vowed not to cut (or bleach) my hair for three years.*
Except for my mini undercut. The hair on the right side of my head, in an arc from my temple to behind my ear is clipped.
That said, when you are a traveller regularly making the choice between food and cigarettes how much are you willing to pay for a haircut? Right. A girl at the skydive shop, sporting a serious mohawk, told me to go to the barbershop instead of a lady hairsalon. Way cheaper. Armed with sensible piece of advice and the luck of the Irish in the form of Laura, I went to town (or in the case of Taupo, two streets down) to the next barbershop.

I walk up to the girl behind the counter asking to get my under-cut redone. An insecure shift of the eyes to her colleague hard at work at a middle aged customer bodes no good. Said colleague, bearing a striking resemblance to a pumpkin on legs, barely turns her head before she dismisses my qualities as a prospective patron.

"Oh no honey, we only do boys here.", she informes me.
"But it´s only an undercut, not even a whole one, i´ll take five minutes.", I plead.
"Sorry sweetie, we had to make a rule.", not even turning her head this time.

Well, thank you so bloody much. You won´t cut my hair because I have a vagina, you cunt?!  Is that some kind of post-feminist joke that I am not in on? Seriously. I storm into the store next door to deliver my outrage to Laura who is browsing through some hippie gear.

"They won´t cut my hair because I don´t have a penis!", I declare, to the obvious amusement of Laura and the shop owner. (Really people. As entertaining as my tantrums may be, they are to be taken serious!) The shop owner, obviously just escaped from some kind of renaissance-fair, decides to put in her two cents:

"That´s a bit racist isn´t it?", she says batting her Betty Davis eyes.

Er, sure. Pumpkin didn´t want to cut my hair because she thought I was german.*
That must be it.

In the end I did get my haircut. (In a barbershop!) After some discussion with the boss lady, permission was given and I was in and out in two minutes.

"That´ll just be a fiver, dear."

 That´s how much it costs to be a man in New Zealand.




* Yes, save for maitenance, pedantic person that I won´t mention by name.
Some people have this way of destryoing a perfectly well-rounded narrative you have built around yourself with common sense. As I am usually the one that delights in doing that I have no understanding for it whatSOever.

*Quite understandable, because NZ is full of them.

ANTICHAMBRE - preamble





This is not a story about a boy. Don´t let yourself be fooled. It´s the story that wants to be told.
Nobody wants any part in it. Everyone would be happy to just get on with their lives. Well, not exactly happy. But happily unconfronted in their unhappiness.

Beware of narrative causality.

Districts. When cities widen their circles they leave behind ruins of past greatness, pomp and hubris.
This is how it works. The people that built this social shells move on. Further into the center for work and further into the outskirts for their holidays. So the so called social margins happen to be right in the middle. This is where urbanity happens. Where the city grows instead of being built. Where there is not so much of a choice but a necessity. Where there is being alive instead of living. Immobility. Where the surface of life has worn so thin that you can see the darkness of existence underneath it. People might mistake it for tarnish. But nothing that lives is completely clean. I couldn´t be.

We visit these ruins.


TRAVELING ALONE - the möbius mind




It was always clear to me that I wanted to travel alone, but a friend of mine, who has just come home from her big trip, made clear to me why:

"There is no one to define you"

Each person you meet is as much a stranger to you as you are to them. There is no expectation of personality or behaviour. Not even from yourself.

"Knowing" someone also means putting them in their place in terms of their personality. In terms of normality. There is a safety to it. A comfort.
Be honest, how often have you acted a certain way because it was expected of you? And not hated it. Beloved reliability. I am not talking about doing your homework here, altough there is a childlike security about the roles that people give us.
Travelling alone is the opposite sensation of visiting your parents as an adult, where the old triggers still work so well.
Is it not a relief to free ourselves of the prison of personality that other people, and we ourselves have built around us?

Nope.

I am not saying that we are victims in terms of social behaviour. But how many times have you heard the sentence "That is not like you" when you left the carefully constructed confines of the self somebody else has assigned to you.
And we let them.
Is it not a relief to be able to say this is how I am?
Yes. Probably.
It is wonderful to have somebody know you, but very few people have the patience or attention span to see you change. We want our food to taste like it always tastes and our friends to behave the way they always do. To fill the roles that have been assigned to them, so you can fullfil yours. To follow the rules.
Since I was a child I have been concerned about the rules. Not as much following as finding out what they actually are. There are rules to every game, to every narrative. Consequently there should be rules to life. Right?
Maybe not.
But it would certainly make things easier.
People find their rules in religion, morality, science, art, philosophy, Greenpeace, Vogue. But mainly other people. Or in more common cases "this is the way it has always been".
One of the great dissapointments of my life was finding out that EVERYONE* just makes it up as they go along. Nobody really "knows" anything.
Beyond gravity everything is belief.

But there have to be rules when it comes to personalities, or rather people!
Certainly.
How else would advertising work?
How else could you dislike or like, even love someone?

I guess the only thing I really know about myself is that I have the ability* to question EVERYTHING. Forever caught inbetween the perpetuum mobile problematic of KNOWLEDGE* and BELIEF.
Change is also a constant.
What a horrible platitude.

I´ll make it up as I go along.



*even the people that claim otherwise and that you maybe used to admire and still some cases still do.
*YES, it also annoys me myself, don´t you worry

P.S: I did mention that my overactive mind rears it´s ugly head when I have too much time to think, right?

to chance encounters

xxx

Before I can pay tribute to my love affair with Otres I have to give credit to one of the major highlights* of travelling: the chance encounter.

I left my home away from home on the 29th of February. At seven in the morning there was only a moderate amount of people to say good bye to and that was just as well.
Even though I am from a midland I am built near the water. Nothing ruins your make up like an early morning cry.

Humping and bumping down the dusty orange road I took a last lasting look at the place I had spent my last twoandhalf monthsin. Knowledge of parting makes old things new. Leaving Cambodia suddenly gave it back the exotic air it had lost with familiarity. Riding alone in a tuk-tuk became an act of colonial quality again. I felt the urge to grace the dirty-white cows with a benevolent wave.
That´s a lie.
What I really did was treat myself to my early morning cry. I still waved a bit.
I guess that´s what you call bittersweet.


SIHANOUKVILLE - BANGKOK

Stepping on the bus to Koh Kong I immediatly dropped on the next window seat available, inwardly celebrating my luck.
Not for long.
A chinese man in his thirties with thinning hair and a painful looking smile sat down next to me. He must have come back to this seat, because he looked already settled. Conversation started immediatly. Full frontal. High speed. I soon found out why. He was keen to tell me about his space-cookie experience.
Maybe I gave him the wrong reaction. When faced with unwanted attention I usually adopt a "play dead" strategy. A dead-pan stare from an impassive face shuts most people up.
(There´s a reason this is one of the main traits of sociopaths.)
It didn´t work, only spurred him on in trying to unload his newfound coolness on me.
OK. He was one of "those".
The smaller the reaction the bigger the story. The more painful the smile. The meaner you are the more likable they try to be.
The thought that his story or himself simply weren´t interesting to me had no place in his mindset. But seriously, who can relate to ANYONES enthusiasm about ANYTHING at eight in the morning. Right.
The only way to get rid of him: outright rudeness.
I took a breath and turned to find a well manicured hand in my face.

"Ticket"

I handed over my busticket to todays busgirl in charge.

 "Not your seat"

Whoops. What a shame. Bye Bye cookie.
Leading me to the back of the bus she pointed to a seat next to a wiry guy with a thinning Johnny Cash hairstyle. (Not a full head of hair on that bus it seemed.)
As I sat down I noticed his hands were knobbly from arthritis.
On his left hand he wore a golden ring with the design on the top turned in, touching his palm.
I arranged my breakfast in front of me and opened my book.

At noon on Sunday, the 6th of July, the fiesta exploded. There is no other way to describe it.

I settled deeper into my seat.

- "Did you hear about the accident?", he asked.

So much for the fiesta. Play along. You will have to spend the next five hours with this guy. I turned my head and moved the appropriate muscles for a smile.

- "Yes.", I said, "Somebody died." hoping to gain a minute of silence.

The day before, the bus to Koh Kong (we were sitting in todays equivalent) had flipped on the road and rolled down the hill. I wasn´t sure about the death. News travel neither fast nor reliably on  the beach. We rode in silence for a while.

A succession of murmurs and gasps made me look up from my book.
Yesterdays bus was lying on the side of the road, like a dog collapsed in the sun, tires in the air. Todays bus fell silent, people straining to get a better look.

The silence was broken by an ancient german complaining about his diarrhea.
Conversation restarted.
I could not understand exactly understand what he was saying after that. But his disshelved attempt at a 1940´s hairstyle and the general impetus of his heavily accented english marked him as a man of "traditional" german values. I felt reminded of my great-uncle the Fliegerstaffelführer.


The bus to Koh Kong stops just eight kilometeres away from the border to make a little money of the tourists. I caught a took tuk-tuk with three other people towards the border to avoid the rush. 
The line at the thai border was full of exasperated people. The main reason being the old german. He was grotesque with his open shirt revealing his sunken chest. His chainsmokers rasp insulting everyone in hearing distance. Especially Thai and Khmer people, who were obviously conspiring against him. Trying to make him miss his three o´clock bus in Trat, forcing him to take an expensive Taxi to Bangkok.
He wanted pity and privilege.

- "I am 77! I shouldn´t be standing in line! I should go through here fast!"

Demanding. Insufferable. People let him cut in line to be rid of him.

I met my seat neighbour on the Thai side again, waiting for the Van to Trat busstation to fill up. Luckily the german wasn´t on it.

- "Mike", he said.
- "Iris", I said.

I learned he was a Canadian ex-pat living in Bangkok. His repertoire of travel anecdotes was quite extensive. He clearly enjoyed telling them and I was glad to listen. On the bus platform in Trat he offered me a place to crash for the night. My initial reaction was a evasive inhale. The pavlovian response of a girl travelling alone.

- "Think about it.", he said, stepping on the bus.


xxx

Sitting on a balcony on the fifteenth floor of a Bangkok apartment complex with a beer in my hand I felt I made the right decision. I slept like a baby on his couch, being woken by Mikes blues radiostation.
He took me for breakfast where his expat friends kept drifting in and out.
All of them dickensian gentlemen in various stages of elderliness. Tony, with his hands folded over his cane, telling stories of his time in Africa, working for the diamond mines. Steve the university lecturer, taking of his designer glassen, rubbing his eyes, complaining about his grandchildren visiting from China.
Each of one of them as charming as only oldschool men can be.

All in all it was the most relaxing time I ever had in Bangkok.
Trust your gut. What can I say. I might have ended up in a freezer somewhere but I didn´t. Mike made me feel quite adopted. He even gave me a key to his apartment for the day.
The trust he placed in me rubbed off.
One of the best things that can happen to you when you travel. A chance ecounter that leaves you with a friend. A feeling of exhilaration as you move on and little more hope for and trust in people in general.

So says I, the famous misanthrope

* or hazards, but I´ll get to the pigeon neighbours later.