they resurface, the Positive and the Negative Dragon, the Firebird, the Tree of
Life, the Horsewoman and the Dream under a Cactus Tree. Next to them, a sculpture
of Josephine Baker, prints of Nana fountains in green and in pink, of Jean in
my heart and Mi-femme Mi-ange.
a winged woman. Not an angel, but a women flying free. Soaring in colors. I
take a picture of her, I just have to. Even though I know it isn't aloud. Then
I realize my mistake. The word is not aloud, but allowed. Yet it is how I take
the picture, not aloud. Maybe she would have. Maybe Niki would have had the heart
to stand and take the picture, not caring for who looks, unafraid.
me, though. I don't have the power to. And even though I try to not be seen, a
guard hears me. And walks up to me, when I come to the next room. "Considered
the circumstances, you could be asked by me now to pay a fine," he says.
I don't know what to answer. But he knows, enjoying the shock wave running through
me. "Your jacket. You were supposed to leave it at the wardrobe," he
tells me. "I was cold when I came inside, that is why I kept it. But now
I will put it here, over my bag, and make sure it doesn't move," I answer,
well aware that neither he nor I am talking about jackets. And so, I am allowed
to keep her picture as a memory, without the guard saying the word allowed aloud.
This memory of temperance.
how fitting the word. Temperance, this word with a triple meaning, describing
the trait of avoiding excesses, but also standing for the act of tempering, for
the creation of a desired consistency, texture, hardness, or other physical condition
by or as if by blending - and also used for tempering with rules.
close my eyes for a moment, feeling the need to sit and reflect before I move
on, or rather: move back. Yet there are no chairs, no banks, not in the room I
am in, not in the room I came from. I follow a sign that leads to an emergency
exit, on the backside of The Desert Lady.
they are. Three chairs. Facing the outside. I take the one in the middle, the
one the sun shines on to, and lean back, the kaleidoscope of colors and forms
still spiralling in my mind, missing a link. How did she reach the colors, I wonder.
How did she make the step from the world of dark combined paintings and plaster
churches to the sphere of curved and colored sculptures and prints, I wonder and
get up again, to take the way to the entrance, which simply leads back through
the exhibit. With every step I pass a piece of Niki's work again, the winged woman,
the dragon, the black Nana.
it, the room with the white church. In it, another school class, standing in front
of an abstract sculpture I hadn't noticed before. And it is there, that I finally
get the answer, told by a teacher, told by Niki.
gallery. A rifle. An object. I am twenty eight years old. I dress myself completely
in white, like a vestal virgin, and massacre my own paintings. In the newspapers,
in the magazines, there are photographs showing me in firing position, or in the
game of "before and after", first in front of the object to be shot
and then in front of the object shot and covered in coloured blood. The ritual
sacrifice of the pictures is directed by me, the keeper of the ritual. A change
of roles is recorded and documented, a woman standing in front of a picture to
be shot, taking aim and firing. On the pictures of other shootings - at this time
many news photographs were taken of executions around the world - women are amongst
the victims, but never amongst the perpetrators.
of the innovation move around the world within two months and surround me with
a kind of halo that appears somewhat strange, as if it was being worn by a modern
Amazon or a hunting Diana of Montparnasse. The Italians turn me into a vampire,
the Swiss identify me as a convinced feminist who has replaced the exhausted men
in the field of art. The Americans, puritans, moralists and pacifists, react with
anger at a television programme in which I am heard to say.. "obviously war
is better, but I can't do any more.
is how she did it, I learn. Putting packs of paint on the sculpture, then covering
the whole with clay. And then shooting the sculpture, setting free the color,
spilling it in an act that united destruction and creativity. Creating holes,
and then, in the next step, in the next room, moving on to the Nanos, creation
In the first
room, in the last room, a line on a painting I hadn't noticed when I arrived.
Pas fini. Not finished yet. As if a part of her had known already that there was
so much more to come, beyond the grey spaces.
take my camera in my hands, and search for the picture of the winged woman.
her that will remain in my thoughts, I know it already, just like I know that
there will be more to come beyond these rooms.