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Installation view, Elmgreen & Dragset: The Nervous System, November 10 – December 18, 2021, Pace Gallery, New York © Elmgreen & Dragset

Essays

The Window

By Hari Kunzru

It feels heavy in your hand as you look down on the tennis court, at the sagging net and the silt of autumn leaves, the moss growing in the cracks of the asphalt. No one will play again this year, no one will go into the garage and search among the jumble of ski poles and hockey sticks and pool floats for racquets and balls. A light rain is falling, and there is mist hanging low over the grounds, so all you can see from the window is a green oval of lawn, the driveway disappearing toward the gate, the sound of traffic muffled by the high hedge. From here you have a good view of the driveway, where soon you expect to see father’s car, a big car, a big car for a big man, a man of tools and laws and important documents unzipped from leather cases, a man who takes up space on a road, in a house, at a table, who heaps his plate and raises his voice and inhales and exhales great torrents of air. The gun is his, of course, kept on a high shelf in the closet, in a place you have known about for a long time, but you have only taken it down this afternoon, after so many days and months of daydreaming, because you are no longer able to live in a house where you cannot pick up a fork without being given permission and you cannot slouch on a seat and you cannot switch on the TV and lie on the floor and you cannot take one of the sofa cushions and place it on the floor to make yourself more comfortable, where you cannot go into the kitchen and take cheese and butter out of the fridge and bread out of the bread bin and make a sandwich, you cannot dip a knife in peanut butter and leave that knife in the sink. In this house there are many contexts in which you cannot make a noise, many times and places, many kinds of noise, usually the noise made by toys or games or the TV or distracted singing for there is no singing in this house there is no repetitive bouncing of a ball there is no sound of clinking plates when clearing the table because plates are fragile and expensive and you have no idea how long a father has to work to buy a plate how much labor you are forcing that father to do when you clash two plates together so carelessly how much labor lies hidden in a cracked glass in a bag forgotten at school how much in a hole or a tear in clothing that is much better than the clothing other children have to wear poor children who do not have your advantages and though you have advantages you do not feel them which in itself is shameful, not to feel your advantages, not to understand how lucky you are, but you no longer want to feel that way, so you look down at the tennis court where on the cracked asphalt there is a racquet, an expensive racquet made of wood and gut with suede wrapping on the handle, a racquet thoroughly wet now, warping in the rain, that you have placed there for him to see when he swings the car round and parks it next to the tennis court. He cannot fail to see it and when he does, he will shout your name as he comes up the stairs taking them in twos and threes such big strides

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Essays — The Window, by Hari Kunzru, Dec 16, 2021