The Pain of the Summer Venice Tourist

by Paloma Checa-Gismero |

(…) At the time of this writing I am regaining awareness of a long vanished body. Except for a week, about two months ago, I had not felt my body much for two years. My brain, a bureaucrat, had been inputting, classifying, adding and formalizing; it got achy and now was time for the garbage compressor to switch on and let my skin resurface again, like in the long past days of good-feeling. The bureaucrat had been filling files on the practices of display, preservation, and arrangement, on the issues of access and exclusion, on the naming of objects and practices, and on the analysis of their impact on untouchable surrounding meshes. It had been memorizing and loading to the stack millions of foreign retellings that, with their copy got somehow inscribed in my brain’s lipid structures –and lost too. And so my brain had forgotten that kind of pain that grows from the soles of your feet into your calves and knees, that then climbs the vastus medialis and the rectus femoris, clings to one’s hamstrings and at last evenly settles in both but cheeks and the lower back. These cramps that I’m feeling now is what feels like to be exposed to art for the length of a day, walking between countries, stopping to read, sitting to watch, standing and stopping and walking and stopping and sitting to read. Plus it’s the itching of the mosquito bites from the lagoon. And the boredom. So somehow in my study I forgot about the tourist’s tedium, because it is maybe the blind spot that keeps my sources necessary. It may be possible that we all forget it when we’re writing, as we’ve long ago stopped, and we’re at home on a chair, with good lights and a mug of coffee on our left on the desk.

Most climate change predictions for the next century agree that precipitations will intensify but shorten, floodings will be more frequent, and less water will drain into the soil. Temperature differences between summer and winter will rise, and the average regional will go up 3 degrees centigrades. The rise of sea level is at this point unstoppable. And at the end of the show there’s the seasonal potlatch inside the old warehouse, with millions of images stamped in surfaces –which I’m too exhausted to see. It’s the big stormy authored display of the summer, wrapped in cultural postcolonial winds. Singers perform the grand finale, announced more than one hundred years ago in a political economy treaty. And they read from the book, which they grind and erode as their Bible. This will be the last big display of power, the last storm until the next intake, two years from today. It is the evening now. Twinges on my back. Very little of what I see and read makes it to the loaded stack of memories.



Paloma Checa-Gismero writes about art. She is a PhD Candidate in Art History, Theory and Criticism at the University of California, San Diego, where she dives into art biennials, the secrets of place, and the rhythms of yogurt cultures. She has been involved in a number of research and education projects on art institutionalities in Spain, Mexico, and the US. Her writing has been featured in Los Angeles Review of Books, FIELD, A*Desk, CAA Reviews, and La Tempestad. She is author of Momentos de autodefinición, in the catalog for Los Sujetos, Spanish pavilion at the 56 Venice biennale