The Knowledge of enjoyment. Nadia Fusini about Pilar Cossio

There are many reasons why we travel: to know things , to flee, to search for the unexpected, to follow obstinately a footprint, a perfume, an allusion. We also travel in order to write. Feeling out of place, we shall find in nostalgia the feeling that brings us to the expression.

Poets and artists have done just this: abandoning their moroseness their home they have taken the path towards language. Often the journey becomes transhumance, movement between two or three places , following the seasons, just like the herds or flocks. This way a new sedentary lifestyle has been born, a displacement which temporarily owns different dwellings, never fixed.

città inmolata
città inmolata

There are people who travel without even moving from where they are, suspended by the address on an envelope; destined, in this way, to the meeting, by letter. ”This is my letter to the world”, wrote Emily Dickenson, from the comfort, protection of her father’s house, “who has never written back to me”. The letter, in her case, coincided with the secretly written poetry, thus protecting her pleasure. As she never posted the letters she wrote in the world letter box , what she didn’t deliver in the exchange , was her pleasure.

The remotest mystery of feminine enjoyment is the blind spot of a question which has always remained unanswered.. But this palpitates in the metaphysic poetry of the American poetess, or in the surrealist images of the Spanish painter Pilar Gómez Cossio: it throbs and hides itself , withdrawing itself into the metaphor, that ends up in a stamped envelope , or in the finished painting, the knowledge of “enjoyment “ that woman, in this way, kept from the masculine gaze.

l'extase - voyage
l’extase – voyage

Women write, (that is to say, enjoy) but do not emit- or rather, they do not dedicate, assign, direct their pleasure. They know that the written (enjoyed) word cannot always be read: there are acts which may not be concluded and there precisely, lies their raison d’être.

Whoever writes a poem or paints a picture, writes. But does he or she really say what they are thinking? If it were so, would they find an interlocutor? Does a letter always reach its destination? Doesn’t the unexpected, on the other hand , often occur? Don’t some letters sometimes remain “suffering”, in that state of patience, that takes the lying correspondence to limbo, where no one will go to ask for it.

For years hysterical women have been “poste restante” in the enormous rooms, in the wards of Salpetrière,Their bodies wrapped themselves up in one thousand meanings, that they themselves lead to their own destination.But who understood them? It wasn’t Charcot.

Perhaps Freud ? Or maybe Lacan? Who understands women?Other women? Lou Salomé or Melanie Klein? We wouldn’t be asking this question if those women, mute and mysterious, hadn’t already disappeared from the world in which we live. In which however , there are other- women-sufficiently loquacious. It’s us who, although allowed to speak, have stopped writing letters, and if we did write them we wouldn’t post them, not anymore, we would send them by fax.
It was probably the gesture itself of actually putting the letter in the post box that those women didn’t like. Those who really liked to do it were men, ( who knows if even nowadays they still like to) sometimes too much , even to the point of forgetting in which letter box they had posted the letter. These days, without excessive modesty , and quite openly , we live the most extravagant passions without having to attest our worldly experience , secretly, in the feminine lap of an envelope. Free from taxes, as we have already paid them- like everyone – and we move around freely, without debts nor obligations.
Ready toattend the rendez vous- directly- and no longer through a lette.. Dying to show our enjoyment, that’s if he were willing to see it , instead of being astounded by it. . Because within this fragility they prefer to maintain the illusion, rathert han expose it.Men like to think of femininity as an essence, a perfume to be smelled and enjoyed . If not personally at least through the imagination of another man, of the true man. Imagining woman – and more and more just imagining her- man enjoys himself. His imagination inflates and deflates, just like his sexual organ, too weak to sustain itself in fact , the phallic omnipotence of fantasy.

That is why they wanted us to keep up the letter writing, instead of appearing personally. Thus they could continue to enjoy themselves feeling safe from the distance.
And also, because they wanted us to follow them talking, in order to cheer them up.We women, since the moment we discovered that we can get along with our own lives perfectly well, have become rather wicked. We really are just a bit more than emptiness, “pure lacking” , an enigmatic absence of the human being.We have come to realise that we are capable of being very brave: capable of living life in the absence of men.
And what if he, on the other hand, were the absent one?We have made that emptiness of absence erotic, without protesting. Between the image of the penis and the phallic symbol , isn’t there an infinite symbolic repertoire? And isn’t this system of symbols also ours? Don’t we know how to use it as well, now that we have learnt the alphabet? In this, the brilliant, the sublime Emily has also helped us:She had already written it – without having sent it off, “ I can’t live with you, I can live in company of your absence.” So she told the loved one, whoever he were. A long time before Lacan, she shows us how women’s real partner is solitude. And the key to feminine sexuality is what she does: in that enormous and wonderful effort and – in this case – sublime, of giving meaning to an absence.
We live by our solitude, after having found the way to formulate the absence of men. We all seem to be rather like Claudia Schiffer: because we have fallen in love with the magician –man. That is to say someone whose work tends to disappear.
We cultivate our secret from the edge of this disappearance, unforgivable enjoyment. We delight in the trains that take us from one country to another, happy , with this newly conquered liberty . We are no longer Penelope and neither do we wait for Ulysses; we leave. And on the train ticket we draw the images that spontaneously come to mind. The goose’s beak , a little girl. On another, the static face of Saint Theresa, all of them , the most loved , and with her , her free delight.

If we remain in Turin, we enrich it with our images: marvellous bull fighter suits , Joan of Arc’s sword. We are rich, excessive, ironic, happy. The city of Nietzche’s delirium, of Paves’s suicide , do not seem melancholic to us. We rediscover its castles, the Mole, crowning Turin. On a dragon, we fly over Padua and the Pedrocchi, and in the metropolitan reticule we cut the deer’s horns. We are also animal. We are munificent, wizard carriers of myrrh, gold and incense which even in the case of being dilapidated, would not be lost. Those who know how to travel, that is to say, the ones who can abandon and return back on his, her steps, never loses. Nothing is lost when there is creation. Whoever knows how to create knows they must empty themselves, in order to give space to the creation. To empty one’s inside is the first exercise, the first phase in the apprenticeship of the magnificent art of creation. The blank sheet awaiting the drawing or the word, constantly reminds us that creation is a fight with emptiness. Things, creatures and their images were created Ex Nihilo.

London, 1997
RIVERSIDE-Text Book (Pilar Cossio) – PaoloTonin arte contemporanea edition- Turin, Italy

London studio- Delfina Studios Trust -UK- ©Adrian Searle
London studio- Delfina Studios Trust -UK-
©Adrian Searle