I live too near the slaughterhouse.
what do you expect? silver blood
like Chatterton’s? the dankness of my hours
allows no practiced foresight.
I hear the branches snap and break
like ravens in a quarrel,
and see my mother in her coffin
quietly not moving
as I light a cigarette
or drink a glass of water
or do anything ignominious.
what do you want?
that I should feel
(the green of the weeds in
is all we have
it’s all we really have.)
I say let the monkeys dance,
let the monkeys dance
in the light of God.
I live too near the slaughterhouse
and am ill
— Charles Bukowski, “Too Near the Slaughterhouse”1
In July 2012, valeveil attended a curatorial residency at Tomma Rum in Kil, Sweden. Influenced by a visit to Värmland and the unique exhibition space—an abandoned slaughterhouse (address: Gamla slakteriområdet, Industrigatan) used as a shared studio—“The Beast Eulogies” highlights incoming Tomma Rum artists in residence. The exhibition includes creative responses and improvisations which adopt and expand upon the form of a eulogy to or for a dying or dead beast. Contributing artists are both Swedish and international; new work is inspired and influenced by their stay in Kil.
When a human being dies, it is common for the loved ones of the deceased, colleagues and acquaintances to meet and share personal stories, anecdotes and subjective perceptions of encounters with the lost individual—to illustrate a more encompassing idea of what the lost individual’s life and history entailed. Almost everyone, on some level, can admit to having a unique encounter with a Beast (as monster, freak, friend, nemesis or even inspiration)—whether the encounter with the Beast was real or imagined. Tomma Rum artists were invited to creatively respond (in the form of experimental eulogies) to the Beast’s death. All work investigates or alters the concept of the formal eulogy as it applies to a deceased Beast—one which artists personally imagine, explore or recall.
Artists were encouraged to create new work during their Kil residency which addressed, questioned or investigated their encounter with the Beast as it, perhaps, once existed or revealed itself in various shapes, forms and functions—including metaphor. This was a time-sensitive, site-specific experiment.
1. This poem was transcribed exactly how Bukowski typed it on his typewriter, including his typos.
» Death Book by Kim Ekberg
» The Man Behind Winkies by Jonas Gazell
» Autistic Playground by Amanda Karlsson
» FIVE STEPS, FIVE SHOTS by David Nordström
» Intuitive Anatomy / Deer Woman by Alexandra Unger
Image: Slaughterhouse. Photo by Jacquelyn Davis