From the Space Down chalk drawing in the Jurányi Gallery
"The world is expanding, but everything that holds us together holds us together," writes Péter Váradi in a poem. "Brooklyn is not expanding," says little Woody's mother to the psychiatrist, as if to quell his anxiety.
Black walls, chalk artwork on it. No wonder these two quotes immediately came to mind. And three stories of my own. The sculptor and graphic artist Péter Nemes has imagined his latest work, which can be destroyed or smeared with a single motion, in this small room. Which might, in doing so, cease to be small. It's an immersive feeling to stand in the middle, as if you really can't see where the boundaries are. Peter's interest in repetition has something to do with this work. The shapes are said to be inspired by cactuses.
During our childhood, the world is as huge as we experience directly. The world is the big bed of mum and dad to crawl into at night, the world is the big willow tree in front of the house to hide in the foliage, the world is the summer house where we little ones can just fit into the smallest room. And then, slowly, everything becomes uncertain. The storybooks are open, look what's in the desert? What is a cactus? I've never seen anything like this, maybe it doesn't exist! I'll believe it when I see it, the child says, and at first he really does believe it. Eventually he realises that he can do the unthinkable.
Peter saw a cactus on a small island in Croatia. It wasn't a giant plant from a storybook, it must have been a very small cactus, but a small cactus is like a big cactus, it has everything that makes a cactus to be a cactus. Varied surfaces, drawings. When you see a picture of a cactus, you have no idea how big it really is. We don't need to know. Just as the big cactus has the little one, the little one has the big one. Inside is the throbbing flesh, outside are the thorns. Imagine yourself in a cactus grove. Right in the middle, where it all seems endless. They look like dangerous planets, unnoticeable as they move. "Don't touch the edge of the space!—We might just prick you enough to make you fling yourself backwards, back into your own world, but one of us might pierce you, stab you, impale you, nail you to it's eternity. Stay in the middle. The middle is always safe. If you look from there, you'll see a swirling void, a blur, ever expanding. In the middle of space, you can be a child again, afraid of the infinite, but not afraid to be impressed by it."
I always smoke outside in the stairwell, in a hidden little corner of one of the floors, fortunately no one sees me. Of course, the house lives around me, it has its daily routines, which I am the only one to experience. The others just participate, come and go, I'm the constant observer, but they are the ones who evolve. One of them always forgets something at home, runs back up and runs down again, the other walks her cat, says "Come on, Witch" if the cat stands in the sun too long. A married couple always comes together, I can't imagine what they'd do on their own. My favourite is the little boy from the first one. The stairs are too much for him, the five metre high ceilings, he walks slowly, clings to the railing, stops and stops. The steps are too big, he's too small, but he has to keep going. The little boy mutters a spell to himself, always the same one. He repeats the spell, the words help him climb. I can never make out what he's saying, it all comes to me in a blur. But the spell works, it takes away the space, which gets smaller and smaller at the end, and the little boy finds his way home. One day he noticed me. He immediately fell silent, blushing. I pretended he wasn't there. I hope I didn't break the spell and the spell will work again. I held my breath, caught on a thorn of the withering cactus in front of the Time Keeper. I've been breathing with it ever since. And since then I know that the staircase is expanding into infinity.