PART NINETY SEVEN
Alex was not happy with me!
You see I did something without his knowledge and he thinks it was stupid and, although he has admitted that he isn't surprised I did it, he nevertheless is pissed off.
What it was was this lady rang me one day at work and said was I the Barbanne who had appeared on the Playdead site and I said yes I was and then she asked me could we meet. I asked what was it about and she said she was an artist and maybe I would be interested in helping her. I was interested, figuring maybe she wanted me to pose or something and as it happened that was what she wanted but not as I had imagined. Anyway I said OK and she arranged for us to meet for coffee and a chat.
For some reason I didn't tell anyone about this and off I went to the meeting. I guess I figured that when I knew what it was all about I would tell them then.
So, I met the woman, she was ten or more years older than me, and she and I ordered coffee and I looked at her like so what and she said, "Barbanne, is that your name?"
"Yes, well it'll do."
"Barbanne, I am what is known as a performance artist, that is my art consists of a performance, not your usual painting or sculpture, and I have been invited to show this next Tuesday at a day long exhibition here in the city of various art forms. Many other artists will be represented and the usual stuff will be on show and I want to make a statement with what I present. Now Barbanne I am the artist and I will design the tableau I intend to show, in fact I have designed it, but I need someone to be my centre piece and that's where I hope you can help."
"I'm a ratshit drawer."
"No dear you won't be expected to do anything like that."
"Well what then?"
"Well my presentation will be a lady's bathroom, beautiful of course but to show how material things don't ensure happiness in our ever more material world my bathroom will feature it's owner dead in her own bath. You see she can't stand all of the trappings of wealth and no love so she has ended it all in this sybaritic setting."
"Don't tell me, that's me."
"Well someone showed me your site and while I think its all a bit wierd I do appreciate that you can play dead very convincingly and so if you want it the jobs yours. You'll get five hundred for the day.
"So what do I do?"
"The show, well my offering, will be on for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon and then again in the evening."
"And for that time you lie naked in your bath looking as though you have committed suicide."
"I'll do it."
"Excellent. If you can come with me now or at another time suitable to you I can show you what is wanted."
"Great, let's go then."
"Oh, by the way," I said, "you know me but I don't know you."
"Oh sorry, Madelaine Gilbert."
She took me to her studio in a nearby loft and the preliminary mock up of her bahroom, all marble and glass and mirrors and stuff, very sexy, was set up on the floor. I stripped off and she had me lie in the bath. (it was so big I fitted no problem in fact I could have stretched out full length without touching the ends) She posed me so that I was sort of on my side and slumped up in one end.
After she had fiddled a bit she said, "That's excellent Barbanne. Now on the day I'll have a makeup artist to slit your wrists and make you look a bit more dead so if can you come about an hour before we start, which will be about ten am, that would be very good."
"No worries. But where do I come to?"
"Oh how stupid of me, Gallery Ten, it's in Medford Street."
"OK see you then."
I went back to Playdead and decided that maybe I'd keep my foray into the art world to myself.
Come next Tuesday and I had made sure that my day was free and when I got up in the morning I told Alex I would be out all day.
"Somewhere exciting Barb?"
"Not really, just want a day to myself."
"Sure, good idea actually. Tell me all about it tonight."
"Well I might be a little late."
God he's a sweetie. Which only meant I felt even more of a rat.
I turned up at Gallery Ten and the bathroom was there looking great. Madelaine met me and introduced me to Gaven the make up guy. I reckoned he was definitely gay, but hey who am I to talk.
"We've decided not to have any water in the bath Barbanne otherwise you'd be well and truly wrinkly by tonight. No, our lady has killed herself in the bath so as not to mess up her lovely home."
Gaven made up my face with gold eye shadow and stuff and combed up my hair and he was so good that by the time he was finished even I felt quite beautiful and then I got naked and got in the bath and Gaven made me look pale and bloodless and gave me a really serious looking slit wrist dripping blood. He used all this stick on skin to give it horribly real ridges and it turned my tummy to look at it. But then I didn't have to. Madelaine posed me and I let my eyelids drift down and then got a serious and peaceful look on my face and settled down to two hours of being "dead."
I spent the first fifteen minutes getting into that almost trance I can do and after that I was OK. I wasn't posing in a bath, I was dead. In my head I was dead and I was not going to do anything to spoil that.
Soft music played and people walked around the exhibition and when they got to Madelaine's bathroom I heard women gasp and men say, "Really," and I also heard people say stuff like, "That Madelaine!" so I reckon she'd shocked them before and after a while quite a crowd had gathered around me and my bathroom.
I had a spell and some lunch and piddled and all that and got going for the afternoon session.
More people came to that and soon I had something like twenty or so people at anytime crowding around the bath looking at me. I got to recognise the voices and even the silences and I knew that there were a couple, maybe more, guys who were spending a lot of time looking at me.
Of course I loved it!
Being dead and being surrounded by live people its magic for me.
I took another break and some tea and during this time I sat around with Madelaine and Gaven and she told me about her art and her theories and I found it really fascinating. What she did wasn't always bizarre like this but a lot of it was play acting and not unlike some of the scenarios we thought up at Playdead.
Gaven tarted me up again and I got set for my evening session.
By now my trance was working a treat and I heard people say, "Is she dead?" and "She looks dead," and "If she isn't dead she's very good at faking it."
Then I heard someone say, "I don't know whether this is art or sexy or revolting but that girl looks really dead."
"Not as dead as she's going to feel when she gets home."
I didn't move a muscle just kept up my pose but my tummy went south.
"What sort of girl could do that? Lie there nude and all bloody and pretend to be dead. Well I take it she is pretending?"
"She's an amazing little performer I'm sure," said my beloved.
The two guys who had been there earlier were still there, I reckoned they were getting off on me and I liked that too.
But my tummy was still quivering and I was working on excuses already. I cracked my eyelid a fraction and saw a ring of faces looking down in interest, in revulsion and in arousal but they all shared a sort of horrid fascination with my nude and pretend dead body.
I could not see Alex.
When I got home he was waiting. I tried to sneak past.
"Come in here Barbanne."
I walked in burning with embarrassment.
"I got five hundred bucks for the day."
"You're an amzing girl Barbanne."
"Is that good?"
"Not completely. You know there was guys getting off on you today?"
"I sorta guessed it."
"You're one of a kind."
"Are you angry with me?"
"Totally pissed off."
I just stood there.
"Come here," he said.
I went to him and he took me into his arms.
"You're an amazing girl Barb and I don't know whether I'm blessed or cursed but I know that I love you, lady how I love you, wierdness and all."
And I love you Alex, oh how I love you.