NIROX is defined by its sense of place; its atmosphere; its deep embedded past and active present. It is not virtual reality. But we value the reach and ingenuity of that world. And so the NIROX Magazine begins with the 2020 re-launch of the NIROX website. In this we will give artists a platform, capture activities and experiences and tell our own and others’ stories.
L'Africa è una bambina (2013)
Druid Walk (2013)
Pacing with Richard (2017)
Cradle of Humankind - South Africa (2016)
Lost in a Sculpture Park, Listening (2017)
There’s never silence here – the tap of sound is always running, till the tub overflows, the bathroom’s flooded, the whole house is submerged, music everywhere, rivering with purpose. The air
is thick with short whistles, stuttering scratches, tap-tap-snap, the hiss of insects, the rush of a stream tumbling upon itself as it trips over stones, stabbing wood crackling and scatting. And the ubiquitous buzz, menacing, the sharp slap of hand on neck to rid myself of the itchy irritation. Lost, I watch
songs of trees run up their trunks to leaf-tips twenty meters into the turquoise sky. Leaves crash into neighbours prompted by the wind; perhaps it’s their anguished cries that we hear, green tongues wailing. Or perhaps tongues giggling with glee at the tickling of the wind under their arms. Every tree sings, sways to joyful beats that pulse through its roots, branches, its leaves shaking like tambourines, trunks strummed like strings.
A breeze grabs a leaf by the hand, twirls her in exotic dance, unfurling her, twisting away in a move that ends with a kick, both laughing, other leaves gasping. Perhaps these leaves are ears through which the trees listen to symphonies in other worlds – the music we hear, overflowing drippings of their delight.
The red-breasted cuckoo supposedly sings Piet my vrou, but I hear, quid pro quo. It sings quid pro quo as a reminder, repeating that we have a role in this extravaganza. Some say it is close to midnight, but the trees are standing in the centre of their shadows. There is still time … but the cuckoo’s urgency warns of a tipping point.
Three black dragonflies circle a golden female tirelessly bouncing above the water between grasses that reach up from galaxies on the pond floor. Two dive in but the third intercepts, some sort of quid pro quo with the female, perhaps? Soon one black and gold meet, forming a heart into tomorrow – flies like lions like men.
Piet my vrou, again. I hear you my friend, I accept this feast; I vow not to destroy the table, I vow to maintain the stage, this theatre. A hadeda shrieks, a screech that could make a man’s balls shrink.
I see a dinosaur hiding behind a scantily-clad bush – it stands on one leg wearing a black bodysuit with hundreds of yellow slugs racing all over its face and large frame. Atop this mellow mound amalgamated black tubes pose as a wedding dress wrapped around the slender physique of a mythological maiden, branches for a torso.
The willows droop as willows do, as lost souls do, leaves licking the skin of the pond, but I suspect their sadness is a ruse, sulking like brattish teens who have one short of everything but want it all. A blue swallow darts with a hushed swoosh over waterlilies floating on their backs, mouths wide open drinking the sun. I too am floating in this pond of voices that awake in me seeds that lay dormant for centuries. One moment I am a leaf, the next moment, the sun.
A mountain tree rises through the grassy rug to stand a century tall. It has stood exactly here while millions fell for the sin of two wars. This colossus stood here doing what it has always done, speaking the truth of a tree. My palm to its trunk awakes wild roaring screams,
tremors. Sshh I whisper like a breeze through its leaves, till it stills.
I sigh as I rest on a blanket cast by the tree’s cosmic branches, creating a criss-cross pattern on the grass as it tangles with the sun. Lost in time I listen to the gathered choir of birds in tuxedos or patterned dresses, singing lilies, clapping hoppers, gurgling waters. Hiss the insects go, pinched pockets of sound pierce the air, locusts rubbing bits of wood.
I ask the tree to hold my prayer and perhaps to echo it to another who comes here, listening. Even though we’re at war with ourselves there is hope, I hear among the decades of others’ prayers that echo into my palm. They too came here for whispers of wisdom, and stored their treasures in the layers and folds of the tree’s memory.
Still the menacing buzz buzzes, me swatting, scratching, irritated like there’s a child kicking the back of my seat in the theatre. Like doubt, bugs crouch on my hands, my legs, my feet; I swat in vain, but still I swat, like listening and finding only faint vibrations to chew on. Why does it matter that we name what we hear? We are obsessed with names, titles, labels, the postal codes of birds, email addresses of bugs, phone numbers for trees … but never get to know them.
A hadeda flaps by, strangely silent. The quid pro quo bird too has stopped its urging, perhaps satisfied with my pledge. I’m holding hands with everything alive, this the reward for listening. An aurora runs over my dry skin, oils that seep deep into my flesh, my bones, to unlock vaults where nuggets of ecstasy lay hidden. I lie down
along a flow. I hear a symphony; I watch my spirit dance with a slender stem, we roll across the grassy rugs and skip from memory to imagination in naked delight. I know, I’ll never make it home.