Writing Off the Walls 2022

Creativity in the age of CoVID

Brought to you by Studio Theater in Exile & Hudson Valley MOCA

Want and Need - Susan Jennifer Polese

Based on Daniel Pitin's Painting
The Old Swimming Baths, 2009

I’m up for breath

But I want to stay down

No one is deciding, it’s up for grabs

Want and Need

Want and Need

Glittering surface, artificial and delicious

No need to lick my lips

No road to stick to, no instruction booklet

Want and Need

Want and Need

But over there, that’s me and I’m swimming!

Down in coolest, cool of the Ocean

Water parting, legs kicking

Oxygen filled lungs, not bursting

Silence, not deafening

I come up and breathe

But I want to stay down

The water top attracts me

Against my better judgement

Want and Need

Want and Need

Signs pass but they’re not meant for me

Spelling out the obvious

Twinkling above the turquois

Pulling me up, where I will not stay

Want and Need

Want and Need

But still, no matter what, I keep an eye on me!

Plunging way down, down

Among the florescent fish

Time is no longer

Eyelids translucent

Still, the sky entices me through the sea

Wanting and needing

Wanting and needing

Never Free

Artifacts - Catherine Ventura

Based on Daniel Pitin's Painting
The Old Swimming Baths, 2009

So many histories are montage: memory shards

And slivered snapshots, rained down, and reconfigured.

We re-set missing tiles and paint-daubed tesserae slowly

With what’s lingered and the schemas we’ve recovered,

Recreating what we can, and what’s bearable to reimagine.

Like that dawn in August when the green streets groaned and shook

As the tanks rolled into Prague while Spring’s still-dreamers slept,

The bullets stinging the Museum when the mercenaries mistook

Its sandstone domes for a Palace of Justice or Trade.

As beds and offices were overturned by unnerved women

Searching for what they’d need for safety or for flight.

As water swelled in the white-tiled summer pools

When the tanks thundered past, wave after wave,

Until what was falling had fallen and for a moment all was still.

The earth had rattled once before that same twentieth day,

As cindery ash plumed high to join fast rolling quakes.

Men ceased building bonfires for the Vulcanalia,

Stunned by the distant brittle cracks and thunder roar.

As women felt the earth roil, pilasters fall,

And, wincing from distant wolf cry and owl screech,

Rose from their baths - the waters rocking, sloshing now -

Bundled their jewels and amber amulets in brass-bound chests,

Bidding servants to ready them for the flight north.

As raining bombs of ember burned and pumice-hail

Shattered roofs and pierced walls,

Opening new voids for the poisonous wind sear,

Which shot in, wave after charring wave,

Until what was falling had fallen and for a millennium all was still.

Now, where centuries-silent cinder has been brushed aside

And half-felled homes and hollowed walls laid bare again

In Forum baths where magistrates and wealthy merchants met,

We honor that crucible and assemble its artifacts gladly,

Its scorched chairs of wood and ivory, blackened scrolls,

Faint frescoed faces and shattered acanthus leaves,

Defining their beauty by how we choose to re-assemble them.

The drear of our own catastrophes’ rubble draws us less,

Machine-tooled bath-house tiles stained with rust-trailed rivulets

Die a less-mourned death than the sea-monstered mosaics

That embellished the houses of ancient patricians who perished.

Our own sulfurous disasters are still fresh-lain, chaotic,  

Our eyes still struggling to distance, re-assemble, and redefine,

Until our footing’s sure enough to water what springs from quaked soil.

House Ghost - Mareen Kelly

Based on Daniel Pitin's Painting
The Old Swimming Baths, 2009

House Ghost

It’s the deep thirst that makes me consider

The backyard swimming pool.

Then again, a drink can finish your strength.

Better a journey be scorching and companionless,

That’s what I thought,

Because our bodies are pressed seemingly thin.

We can only hold a mirror and look at older versions—

The now escaped inside a nanosecond from my retina to that light.

I settle for watching the floating device.

I remember, I lived on the crowded side

Of the glass, then passed over it like the arch of a note.

After all, we are arm and arm with dream,

Wrapped around it, morning can no longer interfere.

Feel free to navigate through the tabs to hear the recordings/poems of Want and Need, Artifacts, and House Ghost. All of these recordings/poems are based on Daniel Pitin's painting, The Old Swimming Baths, 2009.

The Old Swimming Baths
The Old Swimming Baths, 2009

Daniel Pitin

Czech, born 1977

The Old Swimming Baths, 2009
Oil and acrylic on canvas

65 x 90.6 inches

Daniel Pitin is one of the generation of artists to have emerged since the fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe. He received his education from the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague, Czech Republic and continues to live and work in Prague.

Pitin produces large, visually complex paintings, dense with imagery and subtle references to films and canonical works of art. Often embedded are bits of newspaper, lace, paper towels and collaged segments od blueprints of buildings designed by his grandfather in Prague and left rolled up in his family attic. His dark color palette, solitary, ethereal figures, and surreal structures, which seem to both reveal and hide their occupants, imbue his works with moodiness and mystery. He describes his paintings as fragments of stories or dreams, explaining that through them he explores the “personal and public memory of the place where I live.” He uses the family archive and as well as internet sources, historic film material (specifically with references to the work of Alfred Hitchcock), film noir and Czech new wave films from the 1960s. His interest shifts between humanity and its creation, between structures and their content, filling his oeuvre with moodiness and a breath of unsaid contents.

Daniel Pitin was artist-in-residence at Hudson Valley MOCA Fall 2010, producing a solo exhibition ‘Garrison Landing’ that gained wide press acclaim.

Recent exhibitions include A Race of Peeping Toms, Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles (2020, solo); A Paper Tower, Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague (2019, solo); Broken Windows, House of Art, Česk  Budejovice (2018, solo); Grotto, Charim Gallery, Vienna (2018, solo); Crystal Gardens, GRIMM, Amsterdam (2017, solo). Pit n is in the collection of Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Knoxville Museum of Art. Solo institutional exhibitions include Cover Story, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (2012); Garrison Landing Hudson Valley MoCA (2010)`, Peekskill, NY and the Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, TN (2011).


Studio Theater in Exile

“Theatre takes place all the time wherever one is, and art simply facilitates persuading us this is the case”

- John Cage