States of the Arts
King's Cross Pond
designed by Marjetica Potrč
Nestled within a sprawling building site, dwarfed by sky-high tower blocks, a small, manmade pond coexisted with the urban jungle of central London. The green oasis was filled with plants, creating a bracing freshwater experience for those bathers brave enough to take a dip. The white and red of the pool’s trim and the changing booths playfully recalled both construction signs and beach huts. Visitors were offered a joyful, fleeting escape from the chaos of the constantly shifting metropolis. They could dangle their toes in the water and contemplate permanence within the fast-paced city setting, or they could go for a swim and brush up against the lily pads.
Words by Katherine Fieldgate
directed by Marko Naberšnik
A coach slows to a halt in a small town in Mura Valley. A young man, Ðuro, disembarks and scans the unfamiliar surroundings. Wasting no time, he locates the wistful mechanic for whom he now works, and begins to settle into his new home. Life moves at a steady pace in this rustic setting: ageing cars, card games, canine companions, and fond conversations recalling the past fill the hours. The promise of languor is soon dashed, though, by the arrival of Bronja. Her presence not only piques the protagonist’s interest, but also sets a chain of farcical events in motion, seemingly at odds with the quiet location.
Words by Hugh Maloney
by Tomaž Šalamun
The protagonist of Tomaž Šalamun’s ‘History’ is none other than the poet himself. He is referred to as ‘a monster’, ‘a sphere rushing through the air’. Other labels given to him are even more outlandish. Perhaps he holds the key to unlimited energy, or maybe he is a ‘punishment from the gods’. Yet the Tomaž Šalamun of the poem is referred to in third-person, while the narrator claims merely to watch on from the sidelines: ‘People and I, we both look at him amazed / we wish him well’. The hyperbolic comments are a parody of hero worship and hagiography. In this invented world, history can be made by taking a simple trip to the shops.
Words by John Wadsworth
by Daniela Candillari
Two trombones strike up a conversation: one tenor, the other bass. Their tones are smooth, while their interaction is dense and free-flowing. The instrument with the higher register initiates the exchange, calling out in sombre, legato phrases. The bass trombone answers swiftly, its descending reply settling in its deeper reaches. The pattern repeats, but each statement grows in duration and the different voices overlap increasingly often. The duo refreshes its dynamic seamlessly, in one section sounding in perfect tandem, then later as melodist and accompanist. They may be a rarely matched pair, but, given the fluency of their dialogue, Balkanika suggests that these brothers of brass share a unique rapport.
Words by Hugh Maloney
More to discover
Rooster’s Breakfast: Watch the trailer here, albeit without English subtitles.
History: Read the poem on The Guardian website. Robert Hass has written an introduction to the work of Tomaž Šalamun, which can be read on the Poetry International Web site. André Naffis-Salehy has written an obituary for the poet for The Paris Review.
Balkanika: Listen to a performance of the composition here.