Linda Marie Walker

Abrashing The Ungiven, And Givenness Abrashed (14 lines)

Abrashings, in and of the animal, lowly, more than itself for itself, a display, a tiny theatrical sigh, an impulse jumping up and down. The everchanging pattern of body with body – the earth, oneself, the other – exhausting multiplying-unions of attraction, of winding roads and luminescent skies and pungent smells; and these are outside the frame of the drawing. “… what’s marvellous about the [teppich] rugs is that this imperfection [abrash] makes the kind of conventional patterning … quite lyrical, and it’s quite gorgeous …”(1); the sparkling colours and lights are inside nerve-lines and bone-marrow where dark play eludes angles and corners, as a warming surge at night does when ‘my’ body goes home to love the realm before it was born.

The mechanical aspect (a facet of the bigger scene, an apparatus or implement adjusted by the woman), loose and tight, concentrated when tuned, with polyrhythmic squeaks and scrapes, creates territory with its wheels, a provisional stability, like looking at what seems a stilled screen-image of a lake, then slowly a bird flies from left to right, a live still-life, and the heart appears out of the blue (on the tip of the tongue).

The feel of the drawing, its location, its threadbare tone, is a bodily labour for nothing more or less than the sensation of working across land.

The scale of the work (in its adding and subtracting, its easily edited construction, is tentative at the start and at the end, but is done in sure weather with the grass and the stones and the clouds, and the wet slippery cold), its propensity, is already being taken-back into the living being as vibration and given-out again as vibration of another type/frequency– and this living being does not know what it may yet have to endure; perhaps these drawings will offer solace or an inappropriate memory of happy and absurd action – a remembrance of the weird temporality of what a body undertakes, lawless and alone.

Not composing, trying things out, with the body-and-the-world’s here-and-now, and these interlaced, imbued, one in the other and changing (as the drawings do, immediate, uneven, and abstractly), invisible co-ordinates shifting in the eyes and ears, back and forth, until sudden encountering (“… sensation requires no mediation or translation … it is not representation, sign, symbol, but force, energy, rhythm, resonance … sensation lives, not in the body of perceivers, subjects, but in the body of the artwork …”(2)) dissolves compositions, spreading out endlessly, events fall up and down, running over the edges of the view.

Trying-out drawing, rather than composing drawing (based on, for instance, an imagined scenario) – the expanse of the drawing mood, in (it) and out (of it), a physical action (of breath) in the world, recorded vibrationally (woman becoming magician), assembling (not the thing or the appearance of the thing) another altogether other-thing born of the things and their appearances (soil and stones and weeds and sticks and leaves), transforming, summoned from the atmosphere of particularities.

Without a name, the drawing is made, a performance, staged (seen by the crows, the cockatoos, and the kangaroos, felt by the earthworms and the ants (some of whom will die) and the beetles and the microbes), a gathering-together of forces (the woman wears drawing-clothes, they are clothes for drawing; she has borrowed ‘the trolley’ from another woman who might be sleeping or reading or fixing the generator); she has built by hand the machine for the pencil to move over the paper, she pushes the trolley from the homestead up the hill to the ridge from where she can see the windmill and the shearing sheds and the now green paddocks and the sky moving over the desert further north (she might also see a prickly pear bush – she might remember to tell the other woman this, as they are pests up there); this day it doesn’t rain, the sun shines and slightly warms the frosty air; that is, the drawing is all, and each, of these situations and conditions, as well as them combined (as a community or tribe or flock) at every moment and that moment embodied and emergent between her resonance (as beating pulsing panting), and the pencil/paper resonance (scratching, dotting, swaying) – as sure and attenuated and proliferating/perforating as that, that had never before met, and yet these/their surfaces merge and align and pass and adhere and celebrate (in dance) the zone wherein the woman oversteps herself to become or approximate in a drawing-sense the land-drawing-border (not woman, not crow, not drawing, and yet a little of the differences of them, borrowed joyfully, without witness/audience, and discontinuous).

Assembling, and not quite assembled, pressures millimetres from being marks, from being seen, from being memorable (for instance, it is sound that is seen – as the machine-trolley-person creates a racket that alters the ‘field’ forever, waking the owl, scaring the rabbit, jamming her thumb); collecting states of almost-nothing (strange connectors for chance score and kindred spirits – do they even exist, these states, and they possibly do, and in their possibly-do, a song, a cry, sweeps across the cells, a system of prickly shocks caused by leaving too soon, or arriving too quickly, of what was (from) elsewhere an entire event, poignant to some degree – seconds, hours, or years before this time.(3) Assemblage by weaving – smooth and sticky couplings and whirlings, slowly, minimally, the conjunctions brief compressions and cohesions (no functions; expressions).

Each line accounts only for itself and yet it belongs, as if a weight, to the picture of a common force, a hanging garden – it comes without wanting anything from me, it comes regardless of what/who I am, but it comes only because someone set out to make ‘music’, to join-in whatever music is present, not for her or us, not awaiting her discovery – present for its life and as the continually moving swirling differing culture in/with which it is possible to catch (hold of) form, the collapse (imagining collapse as a slight slump, a miniscule hunch because the stilling, the stopping, jars – like crashing into a glass door) into ‘something or other’, a pattern, a single note or chord (a relief from the buzzing and humming), a separation (to open-up a tiny crack) that dilutes and dissolves and dissipates the dense body self’s obsession with self into a quiver or a sneeze or a thought or a scent – an intuitive realm of neverending fluid differences; always, time after time.

Images-without-images that tell me something of myself; of myself trying to say something – and there’s not too much to see, with/on which to say; although, there is enough – and trying to say ‘how’ to say something that is mind working out sense, and is body’s desire as microscopic and dishevelled and an image too, yielding then to another speaking, another voicing, a grave enacting of what is the subject(‘s subject) – the arrangement of words against the learned/rewarded arrangement (the stilled-born), the way words (speaking, arriving/landing in the air/world) have will, and effect, and are the actual ‘done’, and are the ‘undone’ (in hope) of being (who one thinks one-is, and who one thinks one-was) not a ‘being-done’, but a living-doing that loves seduction (of and from the unknown) not submission to impediments/regulations – how (otherwise) to speak/write/film otherwise, in that ‘how’ is a deployment (how to speak beyond (the bounds of) our own style/rules of language, and between the beautifully constructed frames (when one looks and looks at the land in a long attenuated gaze) that break and fracture our continuities, shatter (into glistening surfaces) our hard-identities (time-crusted) – throwing us to the wolves and to the discourses of dispersion (nomad, migrant, pilgrim, exile, deportee, expatriate, evacuee).

The image is an-image, even when image-less, even more so when a squeezed out stain or trace (a smear (glissando), a smudge – a splattering perhaps (as an insect hits the car window)), marked out in time, bare in the scheme of every-day, of ordinary traversing of ground by animals and people, of emitting jerkings and spasms of delight and surprise and shock as fog clears, as heat sears, as wind rises, of flipping colours, of far-off engines, of a mid-afternoon lull (instant dead-calm, arresting, dread creeps up); you are looking only at the smallest inflection of space and time between the two horizons of land/sky, uncanny tracks on the tip of the tongue, the body witnessing the horizon, as the horizon-air is a corrugation, like the dirt road that runs, brown/orange, along the creek-bed, from one hotel to the next, the scaly skin too of the lizards and snakes, the hard fur of the wallaby, the scars and limps of the rabbits and foxes, all roughing up the horizon-air – spatiality is real-being, is pores and veins and lashes and lobes, space pressed into bundles of histories and intuitions, of lost sight, lost affiliation, lost affinity, of ceremonies that call body to land, land to body; the dancing-walking peels off and transfers its tiny light-heart ‘brushings’, substance upon substance (a love-affair seeing me in the wide-inscribed-world); I cannot/mustnot find you with these tenuous directions (with speaking that reveals events, performing not signifying (and ever receding).

It’s maddening, parameters floating, drawings like threads like mist, a few stringy clouds descending, a light here a light there a light here; you know she is on-the-move; the depth of the ‘image’ emerges in the body that mind thinks; the lines of the image are a field, a fielding-work, without plan, flowing in all directions – no boat, no anchor; you can imagine her pushing the trolley from dawn to dusk, plowing in tiny fold after tiny fold; we see images of unstuck folds (folds loosened in the mountains) – human marking and human seeing – the images are sculptures, one could say (and could say with mouth closed), as saying can say many things, and incompletely – codes over codes, but not so as to produce a ‘finished’ work – space comes to the paper; points are spatial, not co-ordinates for revealing the actual earth beneath the actual body, but nodes and burrows at which a force takes off, finding how to go on, like a description of the line in Richard Tuttle’s drawings (and also nothing like Tuttle’s drawings, their occupation as encounters): “Tuttle’s line crops up in many ways: it can be a simple pencil mark, a stroke of color, an outline of a shape, an edge or a space between colors, or any combination of the above … it can be an element, a process, and a catalyst for change … the movement of Tuttle’s line across a page of spiral notebook paper unfolds as a record of an action through time and space that embodies the ambiguity of something captured in a state of flux … his art is conceived, realized, and experienced with relation to change; thus, making a line is a glorification of a single moment out of the perpetual flow of time and, at the same time, an attempt to transcend time altogether … Tuttle’s concept of real time is the time in which he makes a drawing …”(4); no background, no foreground, only the bumps and ridges and grooves of ground, as they resonate through other materials set in motion by Margit – they were not there a moment ago, before she hooked the trolley to the pencils and herself to the trolley – the linemark finds itself a foundobject; five fugues, five cinematic bursts (moonlight shines upon the young pine plantation, needles glint, air fills with flying ants), and as one sees this instance (the matt of time and space) hauntings that usually jam one’s senses disappear (one forgets oneself) and one’s own dancing biology simmers.

Once again Margit travels north, from the flat land to the desert mountains; it’s forever, this intervallic pre-musing nomadic water-dreaming dreaming, dreaming without dreaming, counter-subjective, counter-identity, dreaming other-time, counter-interpretative (oblique, acute, elaborate) – another location (speaking/making forms subject – lovely and compelling), like a door inside a door, dim thick pink light oozing out, a whole geology of door-pink-light,  “… not something located at a single point but a creation of possible points through the event of lines, striations, and articulations …”(5); the long-route (pretending to be the short-cut), where language is in its own medium (like a stew or brew), and not a guise for re-presenting presence: “… writing otherwise to think otherwise …”(6); ‘I can be these drawings’ is a thought; a thought has come that calls itself ‘drawings’; but only in the thought that passes to die, as it gives givenness room for thought to think, perhaps – the question of one’s arrival to the self of one’s-own that loves to adorn and be adorned (in full feather, go dancing, be an evening star); to be with the seen and felt and heard: “Art is the process of making sensations live, of giving an autonomous life to expressive qualities and material forms and through them affecting and being affected by life in its other modalities.”(7)

These linemarks (of Margit’s) don’t need to exist (for the sake of dependency and efficiency – for instance, mapping; I do not depend on them, or them on me), they are abundant, more than the world, over the top, mottled, immanent; ‘abrash’ is the natural and variable change in colour that occurs in an Oriental rug over time when different dyes are used; the drawings come in ‘dyes’, gradations, the line deepens its hue in memory – as if it is old now, already, appearing on the screen, one thing after another, one thing into another, a valley, a score, a fence (nothing to see, except time, the time it takes), and us glancing. Provisional; something provided to serve for the ‘time-being’; the drawings, like the densely creased frame – of the self-body-other that is seen by all that presses into it; of the compressed cine-frame that beams/glows its amazing scenes at us – provides for the duration, comes and happens, with no ideal to uphold, defend, it registers, a field of micro-animals in trailing rhythm, or a solo microbe with its insides in rapid hot motion, breathing – the glance, the drawing as glance, as ripple, sending itself tenderly, and if caught and returned “… revivifies the subject who sent it forth into the world …”(8); “… the boulder at which I glance does not move, much less glance back; but from it, at some level, I expect a response: a response whose virtuality I take for granted in this case … but this virtuality can be felt as such … when Merleau-Ponty asks why we should not think that the trees see us as much as we see them, he is appealing to a virtual response on their part: “I feel myself looked at by the things” … what matters most is not the metaphysical status of this response – that is, whether trees really do look at me – but our expectation that our glance will be returned, if not actually, then virtually … such virtuality as is here at play is no stranger than the virtuality characterizing the pure memories that are being continually generated from every present moment.”(9)


1. Chris Villars (ed.), Morton Feldman Says, Selected Interviews and Lectures, 1964-1987, Hyphen Press, London, p. 178 (“… the [rugs] I like only have about seven or eight possible basic colours. There’s a variation of colours, it’s called ‘abrash’, that is – the dyes are done in small batches and what happens is that the colour, the gradation of the colour changes, sometimes imperceptibly and sometimes quite noticeably. It adds to the rug especially in the refraction of the light on it. And that’s what I caught, looking down … haphazardly at this rug of just patterns, and how the patterns are just going around, and what’s interesting about these particular rugs … is that the pattern repeats itself, but it’s never really exact.” (ibid.)

2. Elizabeth Grosz, Chaos, Territory, Art, Deleuze and the Framing of the Earth, Columbia University Press, NY, 2008, p. 73

3. “Each of the arts is concerned with a transmutation of bodily organs as much as it is with the creation of new objects, new forms: each art resonates through the whole of the sensing body, capturing elements in a co-composition that carries within the vibrations and resonances, the underlying rhythms, of the other arts and the residual effects of each of the senses.” (Grosz, p. 82)

4. Susan Harris, ‘Finding a Way to Go On, Tuttle in The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection, in Richard Tuttle, The Poetry of Form, Institute of Contemporary Art, Amsterdam & Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno, Valencia, 1992, p. 44

5. Claire Colebrook, ‘A Gramma of Becoming: Strategy, Subjectivism, and Style’, in Elizabeth Grosz (ed.), Becomings, Explorations in Time, Memory, and Futures, Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London, p. 132

6. ibid., p. 134

7. Grosz, Chaos, Territory, Art, p. 103

8. Edward S. Casey, in Becomings, Explorations in Time, Memory, and Futures, p. 94

9. ibid., p. 89