ARNOLD KEMP / KRISTAN KENNEDY
THE BIG DARK
Fourteen30 Contemporary, Portland, OR
NOVEMBER 18 - DECEMBER 29, 2018

The Big Dark is a cloud that is the shape of an oyster. Or a too-small bed, or a silence that stretches, or a stain that stretches, or a pain that stretches, or a stretch that clouds. A layer of ash on this thing that will pass. A cape of disappointment that passes between two owners … they share it until one of them says "You need this more than me," as if it never fit them and as if it wasn't fashioned out of their skin, their substance. It is a very, very long cloud that holds its shape despite distance and other influences, the birds and bats that pass through it, the gnats and spats that pass through it. It is grey and light and while it has been known to blot out the sky, it does so in such a smooth, even, and constant manner that you appreciate it for reminding you that there is an above -and- a below. You could think of it like you think of a condition — something ominous or something pestering but also something you get used to, that you can’t do without. You can think of it that way — in the way that you can think whatever you want. Still and despite of this very imaginative thinking — it is only, and actually a vapor … one solid stream of gas, water droplets, and ice crystals floating in the air — from China to the Pacific Northwest. It is a vapor taken in through the fingertips and through the eyes. Eyes that stand before the waves, immovable and stiff despite the motion of the ocean. "I am going to wait," he said. "For what!" she screamed. She screamed, she screamed, she screamed … as she collected her things from the beach, her shoes filled with sand and the piece of coral that was digging into her ass. "For the waves to make the clouds … with their water raising up in the mist, and for the salt to sink to the floor, settling on the shells of snails, and coating wet rocks with a thick paste," he said. "We might be waiting forever for that! We might be over it by then! We might not make it!" she said, embarrassed, and already tired from the waiting. "You can't hurry a cloud," he said. "I’m out of time," she said.

It is a very, very long cloud that holds its psychic shape. It's a telepathic cloud that holds them. It's a century of clouds. It dreamed they were large peaches in an enormous morning alone on the railroad track. The approaching train seemed to whistle that love needs to be put into action, and a whistle from another train, ponderous and meticulous, tried to confirm this as if there could be choice and sense to natural madness. Oh, but it is dirty! Oh, but it has a cement porch and gray roof with a little black dog running in the yard. This is another dream that was as big as the space in the circle of her arms. His arms were filled with ashes from other famous clouds, the only birds that never sleep are clouds. “You can't push a cloud,” she said, so he gave her a stick. Push that! Push! Push! But in the rush tiny birds were listening to the argument. Between the cloud above and the clouds below yesterday's loves was a piece of water that looked twisted like a river, like a pretzel. Between the cloud above and the clouds below and lower they had been kissed so many times that their faces were frozen closed.

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