This is a reflection for the exhibition Second Home.
As I roam the street of Brunswick I feel more like a hound than a human. Driven by need, want and pretense I hunt for a second home. My animal nature leads me to quiet streets, away from the noisy arteries, where I am all eyes, all ears, all nose, all heart, all skin. Relentlessly desirous, I scan the shapes, colors, sizes, configurations, and front gardens of house after house. Exercising quick judgment, yet postponing the actual jotting down of numbers and street names, what remains after each long drift is a hunger for the kill. I long to encounter a shell so beautiful, so uniquely formed, that it suits just me. But I know that this naïve conceit to find a house that is “meant to be” only feeds my appetite for fantasy and that soon enough I will have to surrender to the fact that in every case I will have to come to terms with a living space conceived and built for an other.
I can’t get out of my head the Manifesto Antropófago written by the Brazilian poet Oswald de Andrade in 1928. In his account of how Brazilians asserted themselves over European post-colonial cultural domination, Andrade conjures up the primitive tribal ritual of cannibalism. He suggests that in the act consuming and masticating dominant cultural forms, Brazilians were actually subverting the norm, and that in the final process of digestion and excretion of what was consumed outstandingly original forms of expression were engendered. Though my own craving is not so much for cultural assimilation, but for peace of mind, I can almost taste the flesh of each tenant that happens to walk out of a house I have set my sights on.
A house is like a second skin; another layer of epidermis to shelter the body from the outside world. A house is to a body, what a body is to a spirit. Enmeshed in each other, body and spirit, house and body, spirit and house are a symbiotic whole striving together to live -and die- well.
In Chile we have the saying “es una cosa de piel” (it’s a matter of the skin) when we want to refer to the irrational feeling that we are certain of something without having scientific proof. Since I am a vegetarian and actually foresee my process of habituation resembling more that of a chameleon who changes skin color to adapt to the surrounding environment than that of carnal ingestion, I will continue my search for a symbolic second skin, both with a dose of animal behavior and, gradually, though unwillingly, with a larger dose of search-engine realism.