January 31, 2023

L’assommoir, Zola. Revisited

Lola didn’t feel like celebrating her birthday. “23 is such a boring age” would be what she would have said. Wanting to move to Peru to work in a primary school, she felt useless in her life even thought everybody kept telling her that if she becomes a journalist she will eventually help people in another way – well she didn’t believe in that. Her lover, Born Joseph decided to be called Joe since his twelfth’s birthday telling everyone that Joseph was a too religious name, some said because God took his mother away… – true story being that his mother ran away from him and his father to become a nun, never to be seen again. He was a heavy drinker, it is obvious that sending an 18 year old boy with mother issues raised in a religious family on campus, AS a fresher – well… let’s say it didn’t help.

He thought that Lola should still celebrate her birthday, so he said to her that they should just gather few of their friends, quite modest, of course, little outing of some kind during the day. She would agree, he would arrange a lunch in a Park, inviting Scarlet; Lola’s best friend – she was …hum… unusual… in a good way! – keeping in mind that being an Art Student at Goldsmiths university she HAD to be unusual to study there.

Sam, Joseph… hum Joe’s childhood friend, would join them as well. Sam is… how can you describe Sam… well he works in a Pub on Old Street; still live with his mother – “there’s not point of leaving this place really, I live and eat for free and don’t even need to go the supermarket” would be his major reason. (but he still got few others to say to girls that none of them believed; like “it’s because I can’t leave my mother alone, I have to take care of her”). Sam being secretly in love with Lola,  he would be the first to be at Green Park at 2pm sharp. Followed by Joe and Lola, and then Eddie – Eddie is the person you would invite to any kind of gathering, he is funny –  “Because when you have a party, you better invite Eddy” is what Eddy wants everybody to say. This being half-true, he can also be defined as Eddie the lady-killer;  I guess every group needs one, he pretends that the only reason he get girls would be because he’s a gentlemen – FALSE he study music management and tell girls that either he plays piano, or is a famous Dj in a foreign country OR he says that he produces famous djs in a foreign country and tell the girl she has an amazing voice… and YES it works.

Lola felt better already, she was smiling discretely and quietly. Only one was missing to the rendez-vous, Scarlet – Scarlet has, is and will always be late – everyone knows that. She calls it “fashionably late” but they just call that late. The lunch was set up already, Joe had borrowed money to his flat mates to pay the entire meal. Eddie started to loose his temper, he was sitting in front of a blanket full of food, but couldn’t eat it because of Scarlet. But the only reason why he was always making fun or getting angry at Scarlet was because she is the only girl who really interests him, know one knows what happened but they both said it was too complicated.

After few angry mumbling, Scarlet finally arrived with her usual bindi between her eyes and her red velvet boots. The time she gets from the front gate to the little lunch organized, rain would have walked faster to them, and started to greet them with few drops followed by London’s famous end-of-world-black-ish coloured sky… Lola was smiling tenderly at Joe’s disappointed face while Eddie started to argue with Scarlet, stating that if she would have been on time they could have enjoyed lunch in the sun – Even though London’s schizophrenic weather had nothing to do with her – she felt guilty and tried to find a way to handle the situation… “Let’s go to Tate Modern!” she said.

Followed by the predictable mumbling of “- hummmm…” ; “- …well…”;  “I’m not sure that…” while she was justifying “it’s a brilliant museum with an amazing collection” ; the awkward “hum” stopped when she gave the best argument to make students go somewhere: “AND it is free”. Radical change that made Lola, Joe and Eddie replace their undecided words with respectively “-yesss” ; “-definitely, let’s go” and Eddie sarcastic “-such a great idea, I was thinking of going anyway I might as well just go with you”.

Walking to Green Park underground station, they all started to argue HOW to get there; starting by sam saying “yeah, easy, we could just get the dark blue line to Leceister square, take the black line to embankment and walk from here.” – Lived in london his entire life, Sam still can’t remember the name of the lines – Eddie proposed “euh no, the easiest way to get to Tate is to take the Picadilly line to Picadilly and then the bakerloo line to embankment AND THEN walk from there”. “But I don’t want to walk –said lola- the time we get to the Tate my hair would be ruined”. Joe was walking in front them, he turn around and end their argue by saying “oh God please stop talking, We are going to get the jubilee to Westminster and then take either the circle and district line to Blackfriars and we won’t have to walk much”.

11 minutes, 32 seconds, 5 stations and one change later, they would arrive at the underground station. While walking rapidly on Blackfriar Bridge; they started to share their personal experiences with museums – “ last time I went to a museum  was certainly when I was 7 with uncle Mark” expressed Joe displaying a little smile on his face.

When they finally arrived in front of the Tate sam expressed his point of view in a delicate and classy way –as always-  “modern art is just pretentious bullshit”, Eddie glanced at Scarlet and added that museum where posh, she just ignored them and said “oh about that, don’t forget to get your shoes off before going in” – they all started to laugh and started their visit.

Level 2 – Poetry and Dream: walking by Dali, Picabia, Miro and Francis Bacon they stopped in front of Picasso’s Nude Woman with Necklace – While Scarlet and Joe where discussing Cubism, Eddie said “hey Sam I didn’t know your mother was a model” they started to laugh, left the exhibition room and took the stairs to Level 3.

They followed scarlet to the space called Transformed Vision; she loved abstract expressionism and wanted to show them one of her favorite painting by Mark Rothko, Black on Maroon. She had her first encounter with his paintings in 2006 in the Museum of Contemporary Art in LA, she was lost and troubled at that time and when she stood in front of Rothko’s painting she felt like the air had changed, a strange feeling as if she had been delivered from a heavy weight- she could breath properly again. She only told lola about that experience, after going through superficial viewings of Pollock, Krasner and Dubuffet they stopped in front of Black on Maroon, Lola tenderly stroked Scarlet’s back and stood there silently. You could hear the three boys whispering thoughts like “my little sister could have done that – and no one would actually want to display that in the museum” said Joe, for once their opinion were quite interesting, they started to question themselves about how do you decide that this is great Art, and on what basis do you consider an artist to be a genius of its own kind, how could non-figurative paintings were defined as pieces of Art after centuries of portrait and landscapes being represented.

Moving on to the next level, number 4 – to be precise- they had two more spaces to visit. They turned left to Structure and Clarity first: Mondrian, Braque, Matisse, Delaunay and Brancusi had joined them to their birthday party. Eddie stopped in front of one of Kandinsky’s painting titled Swinging – “I have no idea why but I actually like that”, Scarlet answered with a large smile, “I knew you would like it; Kandinsky was a synesthetic painter, which means that each time he would hear a note, a color or a form would appear in his mind and he represented this on canvas”; Eddie was passionate about music, he got his phone out of his pocket and wrote the title of the painting.

It was starting to be late, the Tate was closing soon. They walked toward the last room, Energy and Process. Richard Serra, Morris and Donald Judd did not really interested them, however they ran into Bruce Nauman and his video installation titled Violent incident. Sequence of events were displayed on different screens, showing a man pulling the chair out under the woman and make her fall on the floor, they started insulting themselves – the viewers laughed. Lola related that to Charlie Chaplin movies. They hadn’t finished to visit all the rooms – but a tall man with a Tate Modern shirt announced that the museum had to close and they all had to go out. As any 20 year old, they decided that they would stayed longer, arguing with the man. After 5minutes of “we shouldn’t get kicked out of the museum” and “we are not leaving this place until we see all the collection displayed” the attendants shouted “all out! All OUT!” at the top of their voices.








1 Comment on L’assommoir, Zola. Revisited

  1. Short contemporary version of the Visit to the Louvre’s extract from L’assommoir by Zola. This extract examine the institute of museums and what it bring to the viewer – culture or just another way of spending time?

    I have revisited the extract by writing the same situation in another context; a contemporary view of nowadays’ relation to art and the museum using young fictional characters.

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