The Mush or The Birds’ Language

The male voice coming from the speaker of the iPhone 6 states that he can work 14 hours per day. The work makes him happy and frustrated at the same time—the production of something, anything, any kind of proof of a day well-spent calms him, while the actual state of his body, exhausted and hungry, the pain in the neck, the stiffness, heavy eyelids, head buzzing, head feeling electric and empty, frustrates him and it’s also what he longs for when the day starts, that’s what it means to him to be alive, to be alive is to be able to work and to work is to be immersed in life, therefore to be exhausted…- it goes on like this. She, the listener, allows a cliché image to appear in her mind: bags under his eyes, body slouching in a chair, the hand holding a cold beer, the reward of a hard day has been won again, his pleasurable suffering is not silent, it’s loud with work, although she knows that he doesn’t look like that at all. He’s on a bike, at full speed, heading to an art opening and she can hear how the tires and the small stones create the traction sound similar to rain. She works a lot and eagerly as well, and all kinds of things, but it’s the prospect of everyone eventually leaving her alone, the promise of being absolved of responsibility for anything, the idea that no one will have any reason to think, talk, write or approach her, what motivates her. Just like he dreads and desires the exhaustion, she fears and longs to be forgotten, she says, not dead, but to be tucked in, hidden, like a figurine that fell from a shelf and remained stuck for a quarter century, unbroken, unscratched, only a bit dusty. At least his desire - the complete drainage of his energy and will to live- is attainable and even very desired in this life, you can be forgotten by people, you can push them away with your insanity, but the government and landlords will always find you, he says, and with this agreement, the call ends and she sinks back into the mumbles, children’s cries, barks, and wing flutters of her street. A tight knot in her spine screams from time to time.

Her working day looks like this: after breakfast which she eats standing, she goes back to bed (which is surrounded by notebooks, piles of paperwork, vitamins, painkillers, massage oils, there are two hair clips, a mustard-colored lamp, two blue ink pens, a pair of ear plugs, and three house plants on the desk next to the bed) and proceeds with opening the silver laptop (Macbook Air 2015 model) placed next to her bed the night before. She usually lays on her back with the laptop at her stomach, the thin edge presses into her skin, just under her breasts (where Rihanna has her Isis tattoo), and over time marks her skin with a long red line; following a simple score of reading and typing emails, reading and copy-pasting documents, her fingers move irregularly over the keyboard. Images overflood the screen in front of her; someone's oatmeal breakfast recipe, a view of a garden with peonies, switch to another tab, a dead man in the mud under a banner with several unread news updates, clicking on it will push down the image of a dead person from the feed and exchange it with blocks of words, in another tab there’s a pair of sandals on sale, refreshing the social media feed brings up a woman she knows holding a sleeping baby on her chest as she poses for herself and the unknown internet audience in front of a mirror, and a black and white image of a woman in her 50s wearing leather boots, sitting on a couch on approximately 20 centimeters from a Siamese cat. This sub-score is repeated throughout the day, as she will open the news and the social media a countless number of times, and the visual material will overflow again, the stream of content is endless, and everyone is busy feeding the feed with the most digestible parts of themselves, in direct opposition to the news, which is easier to swallow when sweetened with the most stupefying aspects of ourselves. In the afternoon the score might be varied by an online meeting, an online document is brightly shimmering, fingers mindlessly pressing the plastic buttons with glowing letters, the letters on the screen are being deleted, words crossed out, added, marked bold, the plastic is making a soft clicking sound, the machine purrs.

Once per day she will change from her pajama to a yellow, cotton shirt, put some cream on her previously washed face, and make her hair nicer, the doorbell will ring and she will open, smile broadly, take the delivery of groceries and close the door, sort out the groceries, take the shirt off and put the pajama back on. At some point in the day, she will rub the dirt from the sink, from the toilet, clean the floors, prepare food, place cups and plates in the dishwasher, turn it on and enjoy the mechanical humming of the water inside it. At some point in the evening, she will open one of the books from a pile next to her bed, The Copenhagen Trilogy by Tove Ditlevsen, In Memory of Memory by Maria Stepanova, or La Bâtarde by Violette Leduc, and read until the notification sound, the buzz on the door, the tune of the washing machine, the drill in the wall, drag her back to the surface of the day. At some point in the night, she will decide she has had enough, close her laptop and turn her phone screen down, which will feel almost like being left to sit on a cliff or a beach until the night has completely fallen and the horizon line became invisible and the sea and the sky turned into a black mass of nothing in which the pebbles and fish tremble; or watching clouds in the grass of the backyard, attuned to the father’s slow approach with the lawnmower which breaks into the noise of birds and insects and to the hum of the wind between blades of the tall grass, a static image in her head, in which the only thing that changes is the outline of the white mass as it’s being torn by branches of the tallest tree in her view.

Some entries from the list titled ‘To describe’ from notebook titled 2021/2022, which is usually placed next to her bed:


She is six years old and finds herself in the company of hens in her grandfather’s yard. There are no other children in the village; even if there were some, they wouldn’t like her. She’s not likable. Around children, she would be afraid that they will have more fun without her, so she would pester them. Hens are much easier to deal with. She has an ugly haircut and this is the summer in which she dresses like a boy. She can’t imagine that she will have tits one day, but in time she will learn to appreciate them, once they’ve grown - which will be in about 8 to 9 years. She will appreciate them for about twenty years, then they will become too soft and she will not appreciate them anymore. Then she will look at herself in the mirror and think: this is the day when my tits started to hang to the point that it’s certain that they will not go up ever again. She will then remember what someone said to her: the most interesting part of a person is lost much before her tits start hanging, which will soothe her. The most interesting part of herself is long long long long long — long — gone, so why care about the tits. But this is not that day. This is the day when the most interesting part of her is still there, her tits are nonexistent and she is surrounded by hens: one two three four five six seven eight. Nine hens and they all have tiny parasites among their feathers. From afar the feathers look perfectly arranged and soft, but by touching them, she realizes that they have a boney quality, and sometimes some of them are missing, and reveal pale and bumpy skin exposed to sun, scratches, and beaks of other hens. They wiggle with their pink combs and wattles, which strangely resemble labia, but not from a child's perspective. Hens are brownish, with an orange hue, their eyes are tiny beads, bright brown and in the middle pitch black— the girl is certain something is going on in those heads, but no matter how hard they twist their necks and examine the girl, or the predator up in the sky, they don’t manage to communicate anything except what could be interpreted as their wonder at the world, which is expressed by their prologued murmuring. Or is the wonder in the child and she projects it onto the hens murmuring, which serves a completely different function, one of communicating feelings of contentment and safety to other birds? The child mimics the sound, but still, the hens don’t seem to be accepting her as one of their kind. For this reason, she gets her way by force. What she likes about them the most: when they get scared, hens lower their bodies to the ground and raise and slightly curve their wings, as if they are protecting something under them, making it very easy for the girl to pick them up in the air. They take the same position of subordination before the rooster jumps on them. The hen simply gives herself up to the force majeure - the cock or the girl — the hen doesn’t know what’s coming for her, a fuck, or an ax, or a throw in the air.

The girl raises the feathered animal that can’t fly and is kept alive for her eggs which taste so good when broken into a small bowl and whisked with sugar until they become light yellow and airy, in the air and turns it around, trying to meet the bird’s eye. The hen curls her bony legs up into her belly and the girl can see the long, pale nails, and then meet the hen’s perfectly round orange-black eye. Do - you - understand - me - nod - if - you - do? How long before the animal gets disembodied by the grandfather’s ax? If - you - learn - how - to - fly - you - can - escape. How long before grandma pours the boiling water over her decapitated body and pulls all the feathers out? How long before the girl sees a hen’s pale-yellow legs, curled fingers, but no nails, dancing around the pot of boiling water? Same questions, all the time, and no answer. We - can - practice - fly - now! The girl throws the hen to the ground and the creature clumsily runs away, and since there were no warm, shit-stained eggs to collect, the silence of August afternoon was heavy, and the grandmother was cooking a soup with veal meat, which as always emitted heavy and saddening smell, the girl climbed at the top of a pile of chopped wood, which had an old car roof as a cover and protection from rain and snow and in this case produced some shadow in what was the girl’s imaginary fortress. She snugged herself up, on the top of the wood blocks. Some of the hens lay around in the shade of the plum trees, with their wings stretched out over their legs, which gave them a comical appearance as if they were posing for a painting, or the rooster, or other hens, or someone else whom they fancy. If they’ve seen, felt, or announced what will happen, it will remain unknown, and if they made an alarming sound, it was dismissed as the usual, mindless noise. Hot middays are not meant for us, nor chicken, because neither of us knows how to be still without passing out.

The girl woke up drowsy, unsure how long she has been sleeping. She climbed down from her fortress and went to find her grandmother and declare the most exquisite thing that happened to her today - without intending to, she slept in the sun. Grandma stated that the girl could have been bitten by a snake, whose venom would consequently kill the child in her sleep, she’s been told many times, but she never listens, because her head is always somewhere else, and she never understands what is being said to her, like that there are snakes around the wood blocks. Since then, the child’s memory of this day is framed by the unknown, unseen, but kind enough, almost biblical snake: she sees herself sleeping in the sun, as the reptile slowly comes up, the hens twisting their necks at the sight of the predator, as it slithers from under the last row of woodblocks, which are moist and soft, this she knows because when she’d reached with her arm into the holes and empty spaces between the wood and felt the wetness and dampness which creeped her out a little bit, so for sure the wood must be even darker and colder and wetter on the side where it presses into the earth emiting somehow sweet, somehow repulsive smell, where, in the end, her own body pressed into the earth through the logs as she slept - the image is menacing: a sleeping child, the reptile, slick and not yet warmed up, slithering up over the logs, licking her ear, the burning warmth of the sun accumulating in their bodies, the blood pumping into child’s cheeks, the dangers of not getting yourself busy with something-


Nothing was ever bought for the weekend house for as long as she remembers. Now the old stuff was thrown out and taken to the garbage and soon nothing inside will be older than she is. She took for granted the nightstand and its content, like the box with buttons from undetectable jackets, shirts, and pullovers. Since the owners, the grandparents, died, the objects became useless, but there was a hidden- projected - sense of order that she didn’t dare to touch. The things built a network and by tuning in to it, it worked as a highway to other time; by performing the opening and closing of the drawer, she was going ten or twenty or thirty years back, and for a moment became another woman, a woman who would lean down and open the drawer to put a button, or some other small, potentially useful thing and save it for future. Ideally, the nightstand would collapse from usage and crumble to dust, and only then would she put a new one there, finally released from repeating the past. But it wouldn’t move. It stood there, reminding her that whatever is touched, someone dead touched it before and that we roam around in their world, breaking their plates, using up their shaving foams, emptying their drawers, turning inside out their pockets, sitting in shades of trees they planted, leaning over the fences they put up, and, of course, sleeping in their death-beds. In comparison to the graveyard, an old house is made of thousand memory stones, everyday objects under a spell that can be broken only by sending them off to the ‘away’ land- the trash bin.

On the second floor there’s still a piece of an old wardrobe that was placed on the top of another closet, both from different apartments of the family, united in a strange and wrong but functional way; an armchair that fell out of fashion and got the label of being bought ‘by mistake’; a garden chair used as a desk chair at the kitchen table covered by a blue checkered cloth with many cigarette holes and used as her working desk; a small TV on a garden desk, the ownership of her great-grandmother; an actual double bus seat, which her grandfather covered with the sponge and suede together with a piece of textile (he was a textile worker), which was uncomfortable and the strangest piece of furniture in the house. A pair of father’s shoes became a home for spiders. But there’s also a shoebox full of black and white pictures in which her grandmother is skinny and the grandfather has a funny mustache and the father is a baby - so there’s an image of a baby whose shoes are full of spiders, and it’s as if there’s a web connecting all of this, like in a movie where the crazy detective is trying to crack the case and uses a red marker to connect all the corpses on the map. Exhibit number one: a portrait of two young people who just got married, the woman is wearing a white veil, on the right side of the picture, staring at her left side, her face is blank, with no specific emotion, she seems rather concentrated, the man is clean shaved, at the left side of the frame, looking at something beyond the frame.

Exhibit number two: in the nightstand, some love letters of their son, in a plastic orange bag, approximately 10 pieces, were not meant for anyone present in this room or out of this room to read. Exhibit number three: a tall pine tree in the yard, planted 30 years ago, so the neighbors can’t look into the yard. Exhibit number four: orange kitchen vitrine that was shaking one night when the bombs were falling on the hill nearby and the grandmother entered the room and took her outside, and the detonation in the distance was orange like the vitrine. Detonations are like orange furniture shaking in the night. Exhibit number six: the mold in one of the walls, the only reminder that once the house was flooded, because of leaking water, which soaked the house from within and almost destroyed it. Every exhibit could be classified and put on the map, but what would this map be? Here in the kitchen, where she ate breakfast with all of them so many times, and also when she got the news that her grandfather had died, and then went outside, and the morning was calm and beautiful and stood exactly over the spot where she fell over and badly cut her leg in yet another point in time, much before anything happened to anyone she knew and it remained so for many years.

The only possible thing would be to burn the house down. This is why people have children—they can’t bury their own homes. If the house is a sort of grave, then she would be one of those men dressed in green overalls and rubber boots, collecting garbage, pruning the plants, occasionally glancing over the names, sitting next to them, lighting a cigarette, resting by, leaning onto a shovel stuck in the soil, right next to the hole, sweaty from work, as mourners with the casket approach slowly. Silence falls over the old furniture like dust, and then the dust falls over it too.

As a part of her research, Catalina Insignares invited Tamara Antonijevic to write with, or next to, a sensorial envisioning practice she's been doing in the past three years. This process turned into The Mush, which will be published in the framework of Notebook series, a small publication by DAS Theater School, and its Artistic Research Program called Das Third.

björnsonova was founded in 2015. It is an artistic and interdisciplinary platform for experimentation, research, and sharing, in the operation of which several artists from Prague, Košice, Berlin, Brussels, and Belgrade scenes participate. björnsonova is a platform but also a fictional character, a mystery, a monster, a teenager, and a witch with an ever-changing form. Her body is a metaphor for the very functioning and dynamics of the platform, where all parts of the whole are inseparable and simultaneously create their own collective environment. The artists connect their practices to examine the body's relationship with its environment and, through various anti-strategies, encourage ideas on how this relationship can change.

since 2020 bjornsonova reads aloud and together in their project Good Night Readers.

We have all been stuck in this infected and toxic timeless present in the face of climate catastrophes, pandemic mutations caused by the virus, the collapse of the system that caused the crisis in the first place, and the loss of the social environment. To think about these problems, we decided to dwell in hopeless darkness rather than hope to project something into the future. After a series of reading meetings organized online during the pandemic as a necessity to clash in fiction and speculative theory, we want to continue in the format in which we invite guests and through which we expand the common library and writing of symptomatic texts.

Good Night Readers is a reading based on reflections and connection of practice and research in a shared ritual of reading aloud that creates a space for joint discussions in a site-responsive context. In Good Night Readers: Decreation, we focus on - undoing self and fluid connecting thinking about new mysticism, prophecy, eroticism, ecstasy, and exhaustion.

Keywords: 12th House, Anorexia, Ecstasy, Exhaustion, Demons, Decreation, Mysticism, Prophecy, Undoing self, Simone Weil

The Reader will be displayed on the final show in Athens.

Decreation: A.M. 180

Text: Tamara Antonijević
Drawings: Jakub Hošek