Bill Bollinger

Acht Horizonte und eine Rotationsachse

Mittwoch, 16.06.2021 ab 18 Uhr

Mittwochs, 15:30 – 17:30 Uhr
und nach Vereinbarung

Notes from crossing the Atlantic, 1968

First day out. Sunny, sea perfectly calm. I sat up on top of the pilothouse reading. Occasionally the horn would blow directly behind me for no apparent reason – nothing visible on the horizon (n)or has been all day. Saw porpoises or something – large dark forms lying on the surface or playing, blowing spray out their noses. Also found myself accompanied by a little dark bird – about robin size and shape – stood on the railing and sometimes fluffed himself out and gave a scratchy little song. Must live on the ship, much too far from land for so little a bird. Half a dozen gulls also (illegible). Fly tirelessly along with the ship, hour upon hour. Ship plods along very slowly it seems, but so persistently, which is impressive
One of the passengers, the younger, told me a story peculiar for the number of horrors it contains. He knew a guy who was a building contractor from Washington. When Johnson came to Washington as V.P., he bought a house in a very exclusive section which had been developed by some big corporation – a group of „beautiful" „colonial" and „French Provincial" houses, with everthing appropriate to suburban exclusiveness. To preserve the esthetic purity of the neighborhood, the corporation retained control of all modifications that could be made to the outside of the houses and the grounds. Any proposed changes had to be passed by a board of judges. Horror #1. When Johnson moved in, he decided he wanted to build a good old Texas style pool– cabana– barbecue pit in the front of his French provincial home. Horror #2. The board of anemic taste could hardly be expected to approve this plan, so Johnson sent Bobby Baker over to talk to them. Result: plan approved. Horror #3. The contractor I mentioned got the job of building this monstrosity, which he did to everyone's satisfaction. Shortly afterwards the scandal about Baker – which you may recall – began to erupt. Fearing the contractor might be called to testify somewhere and that his testimony might be damaging, the Johnson organization sought to discredit the man before any such thing came to pass. Every federal organization which has any power to harass a man – internal revenue, FBI, etc. etc. hosed him and turned his life into a fairly continual hell. He was discredited so effectively he committed suicide. End of horror story.
Second day just like the first very warm and placid, dull, actually I took a few pictures of the sea. I wonder if anyone ever took pictures of the sea before. Not of big waves, ships on the horizon, spectacular clouds or sunsets, but just of the plain old quiet, dull, overpowering sea.
It was hazy this morning, the sky was a uniform gray blue to the east, the sea directly below the sun was lighter and brighter than the sky, off to either side it became darker. The horizon line an absolutely hard, sharp line. The sea + the sky on a hazy morning.
Joyce says: „The poet is the intense center of the life of his age to which he stands in a relation than which none can be more vital."
Here I stand at the „intense center" of a circle of the sea and the sky. The sense of being at the center of a circle and a hemisphere is very powerful. I think how much stronger it would be if you were all alone on the sea, in a little boat, or even in the water. The sense of everything conveying on you or of you being the source of everything. The people on the ship are so completely incidental. Even the ship, a clumsy iron box crawling across the water, is quite incidental. The actualities are the sea + the sky.

Bill Bollinger: Notes from crossing the atlantic, 1968, in: Christiane Meyer-Stoll (Hrsg.): Bill Bollinger. The Retrospective, Ausst.Kat. Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz, ZKM I Museum of Contemporary Art, Karlsruhe, S. 57.