IF YOU DO NOTHING, DO IT LIKE A STONE
2021 text + video
developed during residency at Robida Collective in Topolo, IT
1/ INTRODUZIONE MULTO LUNGA
As a person used to operate within more or less flat land – the mountain landscape is confusing, maybe even slightly oppressive, by a constant confrontation with the diagonal surfaces and the lack of stability, to which I am so used. A similar feeling appeared to me for the first time in the Jewish Museum in Copenhagen, designed by Daniel Libeskind with the use of oblique walls and floors, which made my brother so dizzy, we had to leave shortly.
Spacious terraces located along the way could possibly bring a feeling of sweet safety in this sloping landscape. In reality, however, overgrown with brambles and nettles they become an inaccessible, untouchable space of merely potential (relief / happiness / calm / rest), only intensifying my longing for flatness.
Here, every single move, especially on the way up, requires effort, reminding me of an aquaaerobics class I joined once in a holiday resort in Greece. After a few minutes of following the instructor (who, ironically, was outside the pool, jumping lightly, not encountering the resistance of water we struggled with so much) I gave up, leaving the crowd of mid-aged men and women, motivated to get fit.
The way down brings indeed a pleasure and relief, still however engaging knees and tibial muscles – especially once you ignored the voice of reason suggesting to change the shoes. So, you walk through the wilderness wearing plastic, slightly too big orange slippers, cursing your laziness with each step down, and finally fully understanding the meaning of the word slippers.
Within this packed, rich environment, each step brings a new perspective, change of image, but it seems impossible to catch it all since the uneven ground requires a lot of focus. I can almost hear my mom shouting Watch your step!, (in polish it literally goes: look under your feet) every time my gaze rests on a handsome, majestic fern, a ten-centimeter long black slug, or a kiwi fruit growing in the sun. But I am consciously missing all this to maintain the health of my ankles, which amplifies my frustration.
I follow my classic, summer rule, which applies to places with any kind of water reservoir: a day without a swim is a lost day. That is my only daily routine; going down the hill to the small pool with a little waterfall – it serves me as a spa, massaging back and shoulders – and then back, up the hill.
During these walks, discouraged by the diagonals and with the great support of my lazy, static nature, I discover that being inspired by nature seems to be just a cliché being repeated by designers and artists in fancy magazines. I cannot focus on it anyway, everything happens too suddenly, while I have to take care of my safety everywhere I go.
And there, just like that, standing still, attacked by the freezing water of the waterfall, I look under my feet and I finally find my allies – stones.
2/ DO IT LIKE A STONE
During the one day only, I got a proposal to participate in a hardcore session of chilling on a hammock, a message saying that if I am too lazy to come upstairs for lunch, I can join the one downstairs, and received a phone call starting with words: what a sleepy, sleepy day, even flies are lethargic today.
Later in the evening, someone asks me what I do today. Nothing really, I reply, establishing my line of being. Following days I mastered doing nothing with the great help of stones:
/ NOT DO LIKE A STONE “Impotentiality” does not mean only absence of potentiality, not being able to do, but also, and above all “being able to not do”, being able to not exercise one’s own potentiality. One can read in Giorgio Agamben’s text On What We Can Not Do.
Oh stones, masters of stillness and coolness teach me how to not do!
/ WAIT LIKE A STONE
Remorseful, anonymous tourist sends four small pebbles in a plastic bag to the Greek National Tourism Organization in New York. There is a note attached: I am sorry. I took these from a trail on the Acropolis in Greece many years ago. Please, return them. The Director of the organization, reassures on Twitter, that the pebbles will be brought to the General Consulate of Greece, and adds that the gesture brought tears to his eyes. See you back home!
/ BE COOL LIKE A STONE
1/ of or at a fairly low temperature
you don’t want a fever
2/ showing no friendliness towards a person or enthusiasm for an idea or project
no need to be kind at all times
3/ fashionably attractive or impressive
/ KEEP QUIET LIKE A STONE
Might be that the receiver could not care less, and I am afraid he/she might be right, so just stop talking. Silence is golden anyway, or maybe is stone.
/ BE PRETTY LIKE A STONE
Choose your fighter, the one that fits you the best: the dotted pebble stuck in your shoe sole, shiny-white piece of gravel on the driveway, Carrara marble tile from the bathroom of your favorite fashion blogger. Or something bigger like a boulder your brother climbs in Sweden, a rock hanging on the top of the waterfall, serving cold water to ragazzi. Maybe you prefer something more man-shaped like Venus of Milo, or perhaps, of Willendorf depending on the beauty standard you follow. Now, be pretty.
/ BE FLEXIBLE LIKE A STONE
Walking down the village I spot the coolest wood storage I have ever seen. A stack of sticks placed on the hill is covered with a transparent plastic corrugated sheet, creating a beautiful, wavy shape. The top part is kept in place by heavy stones, and the whole structure is held by strings with three stones attached. It resembles a piece of Italian Radical Design, or, in some way, if you would attach the lettuce – a sculpture of Giovanni Anselmo. Few steps further, a stone blocks the wheels of a car parked at the hill. At home, I wash my hands and put away the soap on a flat stone. It is the practice of a flexible mind, a sense of humor, and aesthetics.
/ ROLL LIKE A STONE
Not everything, (some even believe – nothing) depends on you. It is good to roll without making decisions, from time to time. That way, you might end up in The Chichibu Museum of Rare Stones in Japan, among seven hundred other stones which resemble faces. Who knows, maybe you are the one looking like a JFK.
Life writes various scenarios.
/ PLAY LIKE A STONE
Bored to death (which is a good sign of practice of doing nothing, I guess) I am playing paper scissors rock with the great, still opponent: the stone.
Player one: rock / scissors / scissors / paper / rock / rock / paper / scissors / paper / rock
Player two: rock / rock / rock / rock / rock / rock / rock / rock / rock / rock
Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, anyway, you are.