domenico de clario 

i’ve decided to give myself to you (songs for felice)*

initial sound performance from 5 pm until 7 pm saturday july 16 2022

thereafter the installation will be viewable each evening from 6 pm until 7 pm from sunday july 17 until saturday july 23 2022 

occasional space 516 rathdowne street / carlton north / melbourne

i save the things i think i want to keep for you and then suddenly i think it’s time to make this dream happen and then i ask myself which of those things are going to be useful and what’s useful in this instance is nothing at all like what i think or i thought and suddenly something emerges down there along rathdowne street a bright light maybe sunlight perhaps and i remember all those times it’s been like this or a bit like this and i just wasn’t able to give myself in any way at all not even a little and so i think this time it might just be a difference like the one between a cold still mid-winter misery and the full joy of spring and all i have to do is say or sing it and it will be heard this time surely it will and so naturally the question arising is what is it that must be said or sung? what are the words that i can speak now or what is the melody which i can intone that will make any difference to you, or to anything at all? just choose some songs i say to myself or better still let them appear in the way they must perhaps just list them in any order at all and maybe a message will appear a message only meant for you a story that will make sense only when it’s read by you in one single breath or perhaps sung in an empty space with the occasional passer-by listening and watching as the shadows lengthen and take on the hues of the melodies i silently intone while night birds all along rathdowne street now suddenly quieten and dissolve into an allnight dreaming 

*

jericho i’ve made up my mind to give myself to you  walk on by  i’m as restless as a willow in a windstorm  the nearness of you  speak low  my one and only love imagination i thought about you  i’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter  guess i’ll hang my tears out to dry  i get along without you very well my funny valentine  i’ve got you under my skin  the very thought of you  body and soul shenandoah  change partners  it only happens with you  lets face the music and dance  stardust  maybe you’ll be there  everytime we say goodbye  i was doing all right  east of the sun west of the moon  highlands  you go to my head  that old feeling  terrible love  cry me a river  you made a slow disaster out of me terrible love you’re gonna make me lonesome when you go speak low  small blue thing  all of me  i see my light come shining  maybe i’m right and maybe i’m wrong  they can’t take that away from me  blackbird  don’t think twice  you don’t know what love is  rainy day  a case of you  everybody’s got to learn sometime  shine a different way tomorrow  i could have danced all night   i should live in salt   what was it you wanted    boots of  spanish  leather 

* i’ve decided to give myself to you (songs for felice)

Felice Bauer (1887-1960) and Franz Kafka (1883-1924) were engaged twice between 1912 and 1917, with Kafka calling both engagements off abruptly. The book titled ‘Letters to Felice’ was published in 1967 and contains a collection of Kafka’s daily missives to his then fiancee’. 

The narrative it constructs traces their tortuous attempts to form an ongoing relationship within the extremes of a comfortable middle-class life and the stresses of individual isolation. 

This performance and its subsequent lighting is dedicated to those of us either long or newly-engaged in such struggles, and its featured popular songs affirm the existential journey most of us share as we endlessly negotiate relationship. As we do so may we find joyful resolution. 

The installation’s ceremonial dress originates from Felice Bauer’s birthplace, the tiny Silesian village of Prudnik, located in what is now Poland. It was obtained by me in 1992 under highly unusual circumstances in the Victorian country town of Wangaratta, along with a number of books printed in Prague in the 1920’a, many being inscribed with Franz Kafka’s signature. 

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