proposals (new)



I went back another time with a camera to photo and film two hills of rubble with poppies. The poppies are disappearing and the picture is changing, but it started as a walk to the river, planning the start of an insomnia proposal. The proposals are new, but it’s an old strategy. I’m back at the beginning again... and age and ill health are somehow part of a first mix and the mix was somehow an interdisciplinary mix. Saying something or showing something without too much reliance on any one form was partly an insurance policy. Carrying on is a first strategy retroactively, but an interdisciplinary-ness is problematic in digital times. There are now a few  proposals and ongoing video suggests a trajectory, but an interdisciplinary-ness is really something else. It begins with funding, addressees and unlikely scenarios.

4.7.19 (‘mini manifesto in an age of digital repetition’)



Christopher Sands, production still, 2015


   ‘introduction, rewriting a proposal’

Proposal 6 should be a singular proposal without an addressee and proposal 7 should be some kind of generalisation, involving collaboration. A text and video are hermetic in digital times and an interdisciplinary-ness begins with a trajectory and funding. I can only go so far on my own and making something public is the start of a process that can sometimes involve work that’s shown.

Writing proposal 6 led to work on a film called river-side and a trajectory begins with insomnia first mentioned in a book size text called talking house(s). I will now do my best with to unpack these first dense sentences.


   ‘proposal 6, turning insomnia inside out’

Some people have always gone for a walk in the middle of the night or early morning and sometimes this has to do with insomnia. What follows is the first of three proposals that come up with something first referred to in my text, talking house(s). Let’s say, it has to do with what Walter Benjamin calls the work of art (6)... or a collective project (7)... and something in between (8). Following Lacan, the real is sometimes a problem that’s mostly forgotten or left behind (see above mini manifesto). I began a first involvement with video shortly after Andrei Tarkovsky died. He talked about a cost involved working as an artist and his last film, aptly called the Sacrifice, is a lot more than a tribute to Ingmar Bergman. 

I have in mind two proposals that involve insomnia and possibly video. I refer to insomnia in my text, talking house(s) and a personal take on sleepless nights begins with Lacan’s e x t i m a c y

A plan for insomnia in my case sometimes involves writing or wandering around a house. There are times when this doesn't work and there are two moments mentioned in talking house(s). In the first, I go down to a beach nearby and an imagined story is in keeping with my partner's stories (also mentioned in the text). I was still living in Jersey and didn’t want to disturb her and we were both recovering from cancer treatment. I refer to another moment much later in the text. In a second vignette, I get up at night after a bad dream and can’t see what I looking at, having turned on my computer. I still seem to be dreaming and want to go for a walk. By now I’m living in the English countryside and it’s very dark outside and I remain in the house.

Lacan’s notion of an e x t i m a c y begins with the word intimacy and my work keeps coming back to something I say in the top paragraph (mini manifesto). I begin sometimes with a predilection. I want to carry on working (whatever this means) and devise strategies that take in an interdisciplinary-ness. I begin (psycho)analysis fearing I won’t have anything to say or can’t talk... and once upon a time, wondered what I’d do if I couldn’t see. I thought I’d write if I couldn’t see or thought I'd talk if I couldn’t write and it’s a never ending series. Not being able to sleep is a personal problem and there are many reasons why and how it’s a problem

Lacan’s e x t i m a c y turns an intimacy or a personal problem inside out. Psychoanalysis begins saying something, but saying something in the middle of the night is neither here or there. I'd like to make a short film, basing it on turning insomnia inside out. It’s a project that can be localised in the first instance. It can be just a stand alone proposal (and perhaps it already is)... and it’s something I can do on my own.

The tricky bit involves going for a walk in the middle of the night and I’m currently looking at a close-to-home topology. I live in a village and there are paths behind it that lead to a river and turning a personal project into an event could involve some funding and invitations put to a group of artists and local people. At this point, a personal project quickly becomes something else and I take this up in the next proposal. Three proposals can be one proposal when there are addressees.

   ‘proposal 7, a generalisation’

Last night I made notes following a session with my analyst and a dream. The notes were what they were, but remembering Ruth in the dream won’t go away. She needed help and nearly five years have passed. She was asking something and can still ask something in a dream. I mentioned a proposal in the session and a reconstruction couldn't be elaborated. I do something like this from time to time. I think there’s already a story or something like it, then do my best to undo it.

I can make a start with a half forgotten dream, but am inevitably anxious without a story or proposal. There are times when I make sure that I’ve something to say and times when it doesn’t matter.

Christopher Sands, digital still, 2019

In two proposals, I make the case for a project that includes turning insomnia inside out and going for a walk in the middle of the night. Things aren’t set up for nighttime excursions and fumbling in he dark might take some planning. Collective deliberations and collaboration can be half of the work. I found Ruth in my dream, having first found her bag in a skip. A group of people surround her and she wants me to take her home. Going home means moving into the new house and my insomnia was part of carrying on after illness and grief. 

Things were different nearly five years ago. Holding back came first and Ruth didn't have time to ask for help.

A topology seems possible (now). One proposal makes the case for nighttime excursions and one location suggests something else. I film and photograph a rubbish dump with poppies and remember Tarkovsky’s references to a zone in his film, Stalker. It’s not what I expected: it seems part of a first free standing proposal. It leans on a text or video, but not a trajectory that requires funding and collaboration.

I start somewhere (it seems) and video's an afterthought. A trajectory and disquiet come next. I'm getting older and a friend recently referred to taking stock and trajectories are seen as increasingly problematic, when taking stock is part of the territory. Psychoanalysis is one direction (in my case) and I spend a morning preparing for a session. I did my best to turn time with Ruth into a story and storytelling slowly became something else, but proposals make more sense with addressees and Lacan’s notion of a second (symbolic) death implicates an out of reach addressee. 

A demand meets with silence and then it’s too late. 

Stories are of course something else. They provide some entertainment and can be less demanding and a sequel here begins with stranded sentences and more demands: an event for insomniacs takes the form of a film shoot in a second proposal and any storytelling can be part of a script. 

I’m not making the case for a long winded project and any proposals prioritise turning insomnia inside out: a script is secondary to proposals.


Christopher Sands, production still, 2019

Getting up at night after dreaming, led to a short story at the end of talking house(s). I referred to insomnia, but not knowing what to do next and being unable to look at a computer screen was part of a conundrum. I wanted to go for a walk and the countryside seemed a last option. I could say more about this story and knowing what to do next in the middle of the night can be about many things and nothing very much. There's the recurring notion of a trajectory, but trajectories seem part of many possible stories.

The proposals suggest a turning insomnia inside out topology... and lifting something from a much older story fits present concerns. 

If it's a story at all, it's the return leg of an excursion. It doesn’t matter now and the story doesn’t matter, but wandering through the night was part of concerns that were pressing at the time. Things had turned out badly and having somewhere to go is far removed from wanting to go somewhere. I had to keep going and an old topology is still surprising.

It's an old topology and times have changed... and I’ve stopped crawling up country... and the old topology is partly a sub plot from long ago. It’s something from long ago and mentioning it has little to do with going somewhere in digital times. It's a story that could be told, with some bearing on sleepless nights.   

  ‘proposal 8, in between’

I set out to write a proposal and will soon have three. Proposals are suggestions in this instance and making insomnia part of a trajectory that involves funding and collaboration is a shot in the dark at the end of an unwritable text. Proposal 8 can be the other side of losing a little control. I take a deep breath and think I’m saying something this time. Nothing is shared and when it is shared, there’s little to share... and I’m not hurrying back to Paris this time... or doing my best to keep warm.

I am in no sense a story. To notice anything, I have to forget about having a body or being anybody and there are consequences. Following on from Andrei Tarkovsky (in some way), there’s a trajectory that begins with insomnia and sleepwalking. The work anticipates present and future dangers and endless proposals follow a text that begins with failure. Danger is anticipated, but not averted in a narrative taken from real events. 

An aura-tic moment can be generalised, occupying space between singular and collective work. In a small way, it takes something from film production, but with no insistence on a particular form.

The form the work takes involves going for a walk in the middle of the night and it’s also a metaphor. Form and a trajectory begin with sleepwalking and the work of art (whatever this is) in difficult times. I don’t want to make a film, but want to look at what might be possible and want to take in space between form and a trajectory.

I anticipate two moments: a singular event and generalisations leading to a second event. 

Insomnia is a first premise and it’s possibly an art project and possibly not. 

The text talking house(s) and a set of proposals form a script or template for future work. An extravagance is always possible, but trajectories can be reductive as well. 

Insomnia interests me... and a trajectory that retains something of art’s singular moments and it’s possibly space between intimacy and 

e x t i m a c y... or between hermeticism and trajectories (and funding).  

   'summing up (and carrying on)'

There are two versions of going for a walk in the dark. I make do with a familiar locality and self sufficiency in the first and the second can be the result of a collaboration and funding. I was bitten by horseflies wandering behind the village and being bitten can be a metaphor and script prompt. Beyond first promptings, there’s a larger project and a trajectory that might include video. Here, sleep is a faculty like being able to see or hear... and turning insomnia inside out is one way of thinking about a tendentious moment.


Christopher Sands, digital still, 2019

I want to complete current proposals comparing a famous twentieth century painting school with a trajectory that can only be one with funding and collaboration. I want to compare the surrealist’s concern for metaphors and the Freudian unconscious with an approach that makes room for what Lacan and JA Miller imply by the real unconscious. In doing so, I can't avoid making a preposterous claim. With Guernica, Picasso mixes things up. It was painted not long after terrible events, which eventually turn into another world war. Mixing things up, the artist re-appropriates cut outs and collage, adding something graphic and painterly. There is something of cubism and so called neo-classicism... and it's an expression that can’t and won’t be forgotten. 

In lighting up a dark place, Picasso points to a nightmare that was already reality. The painting fixes something in different ways. It’s both personal and impersonal and the artist is making a case.

It’s a while since I last looked at it and I might come up with something else looking it again. 

The scene is continuously retroactive and something like this happens with Goya. Both artists look back at horrible moments and it’s the bombing of Guernica and war in Spain at the start of the 19th century. There are stains that are both fixed and retroactive and Picasso was working alongside artists who were making some sense of Freud. Dreams and nightmares are part of an iconography that settles and unsettles a period between two world wars and much further.

Christopher Sands, production still, 2019

This famous painting suggests Lacan's reference to a mirror phase. Broken bodies and a subjectivity come together and fall apart with Guernica. The moment is frozen and timeless. It’s that part of language that we come across in dreams and nightmares... and for Freud, the unconscious and dreams are timeless moments. Lacan first favoured an aspect of language that privileges signifiers and the symbolic. His trajectory retraced Freud’s trajectory from a book of dreams to Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Guernica is timeless and real and the real is also a frozen moment or a place where things get stuck. 

A j o u i s s a n c e that emerges beyond the pleasure principle implies both pleasure and pain. I’m saying something about a famous painting and make the most of what I remember. The symbolic implies a representation and the outside world kicks in when I stumble across an undying metaphor. 

The metaphor is also real and artists mix having to do something and wanting to do something. Guernica is a large painting and there is less space for dreams and nightmares in the twenty first century. There’s no space for another Goya or Picasso: a desirable or priceless object is evidence based and Warhol’s fifteen seconds of fame is an evaluation tool. The work is evaluated, rarely seen and stored, with some reference to its financial value. Proposing a walk in the middle of the night is of course a clumsy idea and a logistics is problematic at first sight.

Mentioning Guernica and the proposals in the same breath is preposterous and a comparison makes the case for a proposal that's just as silly. I privilege a moment in my long text (talking house(s)) and it’s a sticking point. I didn’t know what to do next and don't know what to do next and turning insomnia inside out is a problem. The outside world mostly closes down at night and group excursions would take some planning.   

Christopher Sands, production still, 2012 

But taking a proposal further is stretching something... and I think there are moments in a first text (talking house(s)) that prompt a trajectory. 

I dreamt I was suffocating one night. I got up and turned on my computer... but couldn’t see what was there. I was still dreaming perhaps and a disconnect of sorts confirmed what was happening in the dream. Going back to bed or wandering through the house wasn't an option and I'd lost or didn't have my work. I went back to bed eventually and there is a lot more to unsettling moment. It underpins these proposals and not knowing what to do was part of a sequence that began with a dream and disconnect. 

The proposals begin with a premise that can be an art premise, but it’s not enough... or not enough in an age of digital reproduction (Boris G r o y s). 

They suppose something left to do and a gesture, if there is one, begins with a shot in the dark, invitations and reference to funding. Expenses could be paid and video is possible, even at night. 

The work is what it is. If dreams were important and the surrealists thought so, then insomnia can be another moment. 

I came across fly tips researching a first location and these mounds seem a good starting point. The proposals begin without a product, but first suggest something like waste management or the management of preposterous ideas. Recent proposals are partly a metaphor... and I'm asking for something without knowing what its is... and trajectories beyond video aren't possible without funding. 

I seem to need money!


© Christopher Sands 2017