Exercise for Children 1: Music and Movement
Find a Picasso painting in a museum,
large or small. If it’s small, make yourself small.
Note the sharp and soft parts of the figures,
and tell me, of what materials
are they made, and how would they move,
and what would it sound like?
Notice the musicians in infinite
exposures, their guitars and violins
and accordions, their forms like sheer fabric
sliced into triangles and pulled apart.
See here the throat of the “Mother
with Dead Child,” like a bendy straw’s
stretched out neck, the popping of every rung
when you stretch it out.
See the carved up body of “The Swimmer”
(1934), her face caved in,
a gasping funnel (hear the gasping, the splashing),
one nostril and one eye aimed upward and wide
as though they can suck air, too.
See how her breasts swim detached from her body
like pilot fish. They are of the dark triangles
of underwater. See how the surface,
sharp shards of consciousness, holds her in stocks
at the neck and elbow and ankle,
toes and fingers that spread in pain or fear or ecstasy.
Then move to “The Charnel House” and tell me
if the bodies stacked on top of bodies
make one body, and if you feel, too,
as though these figures are underwater,
or if you smell them at all. See the food
on the table above them, just slightly
out of reach. If you make a small frame
inside the painting with your fingers,
what do you see? The tiny foot of a baby
next to the gaping mouth of a woman
next to a navel that faces up with an “o.”
And what are these undulating forms
exiting the scene in the top, right hand corner?
Other paintings to consider: “The Rower”:
its body a creaking of machines
trapped in such a small space, its movements
all feeding a closed system, arms, back, and legs
a circular movement of levers,
the head a skull that sticks up from the top
on a swinging neck, the background all foamy white.
“The Kiss” (various versions): the various lovers
of Picasso / the various ways to play
the charnel house game / the infinite ways
we melt into each other.