I have found no word for the effect of the light on the water
other than mare=ballerina, the one Gino Severini invented.
Nothing makes sense until it makes sense in the body, till the
the body is present at the making-sense.
There’s a set of people selling small things on the Piazza San
Marco. What should we call these small things, since what
they actually are doesn’t matter? They throw these things in
the air. I approach one, asking what they are. Lanza, he says.
A toy for kids. For demonstration, he throws one, catching
it back. 8 euros, he says. There’s this set of people. I’ve seen
them seeing with their feet, their backs, their entire bodies.
I’ve seen them knowing when to run from the police before
the police are in sight. Have you seen them too?
Eight years I’ve been trying to name this recognition
expressed in my flesh.
Mare=Ballerina is supposedly about a dancer, one who, in her
movement, evokes the crashing of the waves on the seashore.
For me, it evoked the light over the Canal and its houses,
the Venice I saw, wondering what The Moor saw, that Moor
who arrived here at such a point in the 16th century that he
could have been at home in Carpaccio’s Miracle of the Relic
of the Cross at the Rialto Bridge. That he could have been that
gondolier, the sharp looking dude. That Venice, that canal,
that light seen from the oriental windows.
The Venice expressed in my flesh, as if the spirit of the sea of
back home was also here.
Where you from? The people selling the small things greet me
like this when my eyes meet theirs. It’s the only way to greet,
as if to say, why, who, you, here – you who see me.
Ali, 21, from Senegal guesses at where I’m from in Africa.
He sells bracelets.
Buy a bracelet to support me, pour me soutenir. We bond
through the French language. We move around in the wide
world, forced into fluidity. It’s not my style but, of course. He
gives me an additional one for free. Porte-bonheur. Pour les
In Veronese’s Feast at the Home of Levi, conceived in fact as a
depiction of The Last Supper before the artist’s brush with the
Inquisition, a young, dark-skinned man dressed in red tunic
and turban shares the frame with Jesus and the apostles.
All of a sudden, with Veronese’s hedonistic canvas, one enters
a time without really entering it. The painting becomes a joke
on the viewer. A door to a chamber is shown without any
key whatsoever to access it. One’s only consolation is to say,
I have seen that we were here, so normally here, in another time.
Without any witness (writing, inscriptions, books, legends) tying
that time to the present, all the stories have to be invented—
In the window of Nardi, the jeweller’s, there are Blackamoor
brooches. There are rings made of diamonds and rubies with
miniature heads of turbaned Moors in sculpted ebony.
The intervening history of the representation of my body in text.
For Veronese, this painting was all about invention, and for it, he
took huge license with theological doctrine.
There are Moor heads everywhere. We’re not talking about this.
One wonders what kind of a character he is, this red-turbaned
African man present at the banquet of a Renaissance prince. He’s
talking to a fat white man dressed in fancier robes. The fat dude
looks into the distance distractedly. One can’t help but notice the
wily look on African dude’s face, but only after a while do you
notice his hand reaching into the other man’s bag. Disappointing
to say the least. The other African figures in the canvas occupy
subservient roles, like pages, but they’re also comfortably there.
They’re looking people in the eye, even having conversation.
Ambiguous. But with ambiguity, I find myself stepping into
a different history of representation. Ambiguity is a fucking
revolution. It’s almost overwhelming.
All I have is invention. All I could ever do is invent. I was
tired of invention.
There’s all the stuff that the European viewer can’t see, all the
stuff they haven’t allowed themselves to see.
The Moor remains invisible, despite the obsession with his