A long way from home...
I'm on a plane, 36,000 feet in the air. It's a place I now feel comfortable. A place where I can think - a no man's land. Nothing can get me here - only the fear of flying and I don't have that. I only suffer from one fear. When it's time to go its time to go. I'm not a fatalist but there are just some things in life you can't fight. Death obviously being one of them.
I'm flying from Montevideo to São Paulo. I wasn't supposed to be but I dramatically changed my plans and so had to change my route. I just had a show open in MALBA, a very beautiful contemporary art Museum in Buenos Aires. It's my first museum show in South America. In fact it's my first museum show anywhere on the American continent.
Between the borders of Brazil and Argentina there are the most amazingly beautiful waterfalls - the Iguazu Falls. For years I have been keeping an eye on these falls. They are giant and thunderous, passionate and romantic. Often when I stay in hotels they pop up on the TV. There is a beautiful looking hotel there right on the edge. That's where I had planned to go. But I just kept having this sad vision of myself standing on the edge with tears running down my face. The waterfalls are not a place to go to alone. Also the waterfalls were not going anywhere. They could wait until I was in a better frame of mind, not so exhausted and maudlin.
My friend Tiggy has a house in Uruguay, in a small village called Garzon. Quality time with an old friend who I don't see enough of seemed far more preferable. Plus I am a really bad tourist. My idea of tourism is to go to the highest point and look down, preferably around from a tower, otherwise a helicopter. I hate the crowds. Also at the falls I imagined millions of love pups all mooning around, holding hands, snogging and proposing on one knee.
Garzon was very different. Tiggy rides - she rides every day. With her persuasive manner and enthusiasm I was on top of a horse before I could say manana! Uruguay is so beautiful, so unspoilt, land as far as the eye can see, grasslands, flatlands, every thing so green, green, green.
At first I was a bit apprehensive. I'd only been on a horse a handful of times in my life. Here it was all so different, so laid back. Sit back in the saddle, heels of boots catching the stirrups, hold reigns with left hand and no hat - well not unless you want to go true Spaghetti western style.
We rode every day for a week, through rivers, across old disused railway lines, along miles of open track road, through woodlands with towering eucalyptus, across vast open planes, past derelict haciendas. Wild spring flowers, swallows flying low and about a million birds I had never seen before.
Baby lambs and foals scattered throughout the fields. Beautiful happy looking cows and bulls roaming, their big eyes fluttering as we rode past. I have not felt so bloody happy in a long time as I did on that horse. My favourite part was arriving back in the village and having to stop off at the provisions store. Tethering the horses up outside to pop in and get some eggs. I didn't read. I didn't work. I hardly wrote to anyone. All I did was sleep, eat and ride. My mind became clear and relaxed, very content. I slept every night - good going for an insomniac.
Now I'm on the plane again 36,000 feet up. Dreading what's below me as we start to land. I have another show opening in São Paulo. The title of the show is You don't believe in love But I believe in you. I'm so happy I didn't go to those waterfalls, so happy I didn't make myself go for the Byronic style romance. The all-lonely, all-encompassing romantic vision of the tiny figure standing alone. I don't want to be alone. Not all the time. I want to share beautiful moments. I want a shared witness to life and all the wonderful things it can give. Now we are landing. I pull up my seat, put my tray table away. And wish to God I was going to a peaceful place.
How it Feels
MALBA, Buenos Aires
15 November 2012 - 25 February 2013
You Don't Believe in Love But I Believe in You
White Cube, Sao Paulo
1 December 2012 - 23 February 2013
You Saved Me
Galleria Lorcan O'Neill, Rome
15 December 2012 - February 2013
EMIN INTERNATIONAL SHOP
45 Crispin Street Spitalfields London E1
Open by appointment only