In 1973 Tim Burns created a problem in the art paddock that became the post-titled "Minefield". In October last year, 2016 (for the future), A+A, formerly Art and Australia, published Minefield, a small book of critical essays written in response to the work. Artlink has published a review I wrote of the book.
By chance and accident the video was made, another for slow time, non-linear and uNchronological. How would you make a meaningful sign to warn sentient life 10,000 years into the future that what lies beneath the ground is deadly?
A royal commission, a citizens jury, and now an uNclear race, all this on my stovetop. It's Thursday (5.1.17), I've been at this since 6am. I also made a loaf of bread and fixed a bookshelf which meant taking out all the books, laying the shelf on its side and making use of the IKEA toolset.
Woke at 6, decided on coffee for breakfast. Arranged the power cords on the bench to correspond spatially with their respective appliances — coffee machine, bean grinder, kettle, juicer — and noticed the decaying animal smell had diminished. Drank the coffee, wrote in the red book and quoted Maya Deren. Coffee cup to sink I see tiny larvae (maggots) are crawling all over the stove top. Prescient thoughts about the exhaust fan harbouring dead things are true! I have to admit this stuff churns my guts even as I know its a 'first world problem', guilt guilt white guilt this is the spot for cooking food that I eat to live. Yesterday morning a thick air of decaying flesh enveloped my waking face ruining my day at a visceral unacknowledged level; today the helpless writhing things in search of a food source (even each other) void all desire to eat. Gloved up I use old chux to gather them up and, well, chux them. By the time I'd returned from the trip down the drive to the bin so have the maggots.
Cone-shaped and segmented the larvae move fast by way of a pulse from the thicker blunt rear end to a pointy front – it can't be called a head though perhaps a maggot has some kind of … what? Certainly not a brain, rather an impulse. Against the white enamel stovetop the grub is a dirty yellow filled with blobs of dark matter - digesting mouse or whatever has been eaten-up there on the other side of the exhaust fan cover. Will I remove the cover now and stop the falling maggots? (This is a decision and a conundrum even my grandmother would have mocked, and her mother … what's an exhaust fan? a few maggots?) It's not so much looking at the work of death — I'm as fascinated by the skeletal remains of creatures as much as anyone — what is creepy is opening the plastic grilled hole to the roof cavity of a house built 160ish years ago. Creepy is not a rational thought, though it is a reasonable one based on the churn in my gut. There are generations of relations going on up in there.
Returning later to the again cleaned paper-covered stove there are more, lots more. I watch for awhile as a few find their way through the solitary staple tear to the enamel underneath. Surface spray seems to kill them. So, it's either make a plan to remove the cover and discard the contents as quickly and efficiently as possible. Or watch and wait, or not watch and wait, while the ones that haven't fallen do their flesh-eating work then I can take away the bones.