Who do you talk to if all the doors appear to be shut? When the then forgotten and now renowned storyteller Robert Walser was asked he replied ‘With myself!’ These words, echoing through the decades, sound like a prescient warning.
As Covid closed countries, businesses, public buildings, even toilets in suburban parks, the lockdowns demanded imaginative trips instead. With the physical world shrinking, the imaginal one (which is not identical to the virtual one) must expand. That has always been the task for artists, however now the task was assigned by the pandemic to every citizen of every country. The meaning of rāwaho (‘outsider, foreigner’) was refocused by an invader with its own approach to the Tower of Babel, one with a language that continually mutated to reach the greatest number. William Burroughs described language as a virus; Covid spoke all languages.
Common sense confirms that viewers in the Northern and the Southern hemispheres cannot see ‘the same sky’. But Covid forced us to change our views, to open our eyes. It let David in New Zealand and Katarina, in Croatia see the same thing. Their shared vision was underwritten by David’s Creative New Zealand Resilience Grant (2020) and by Katarina’s scheduled exhibition Isto Nebo/The Same Sky (19 May-26 June 2022) at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb. Two state-supported artists worked to ignore borders, to talk one another’s language, until David felt that he could smell the paints as Katarina mixed them. Like most optimists from the last hundred years, they were on the way to America, the America outlined in Amelia Batistich’s An Olive Tree in Dalmatia (1963): ‘Work was what Mama came to New Zealand for – and to see America. In the old country,” she explains, “all the new world is ‘America’ not just America on the map. Everyone wants to go there,” says Mama. I used to listen to them about it and I would say to myself: “I will see this America, too.”’
“I will see…” Jump 60 years with the speed Covid jumped oceans. It is 8 June 2022. Sit down as Katarina and David are joined by Dr Snježana Pintarić, Miroslav Kirin, Marko Pogačar, and Ivan Salečic on an MSU panel; together they will cross borders, date lines, and hemispheres as they map the collaboration. David explains:
“Discovering Katarina’s work I was transported by the dense monumentality of her graphite Mountains (2019) series; there was Biokovo – the memorial home of the Dalmatian emigrants to New Zealand who are central to my poetic sequence Mate, kei te mōhio tāua, he reo kei tōku arero (‘Mate, we both know a language is waiting inside my tongue’). Because her work feels like a homecoming, The Eye of a Grasshopper sits on the cover of my book Rāwaho: the Completed Poems (Cold Hub Press, 2022). For me, the textural strength of her worked surface represents ancestral knowledge; the visible mountain honours those invisible ancestors who once looked upon it. It’s like Katarina’s marks are signed by Time itself, and our two countries are united when her lines meet mine.”
“Otkrivajući Katarinin rad bio sam ponesen gustom monumentalnošću njene serije grafita Planine (2019). Tu je Biokovo – dom kojeg pamte dalmatinski naseljenici Novog Zelanda koji su tema mog pjesničkog niza Mate, kei te mōhio tāua, he reo kei tōku arero (‘Mate, oboje znamo da govor čeka u mom jeziku’). Njezin rad daje osjećaj povratka domu, pa Oko Skakavice krasi naslovnicu moje knjige Rāwaho: Zbirka pjesama (Lyttelton, Cold Hub Press, 2022). Za mene, snaga teksture njenih obrađenih površina predstavlja znanje predaka. Vidljiva planina odaje počast nevidljivim precima koji su je nekoć gledali. Kao da je Katarinine tragove upisalo samo Vrijeme, a naše su dvije zemlje ujedinjene kad se njene crte susretnu s mojima.”
David’s poem ‘Mate: kei te mōhio tāua, he reo kei tōku arero’ is voiced by Dalmatian and Māori ancestors in the Far North. During the panel presentation on 8 June 2022 a member of the public asks about the title. David details how this signpost borrows a line from Alice Te Punga Somerville’s ‘Rākau’ as translated by Te Ataahia Hurihanganui from the original English. David recalls, during the boredom of his first lockdown, picking up Seraph Press’s resonant chapbook Tātai Whetū: Seven Māori Women Poets in Translation (eds. Maraea Rakuraku & Vana Manasiadis, 2018). How those words pointed the way ahead! After reading them out loud he tried to climb the slopes of Katarina’s landscapes. Each step was a breath, each breath let loose a word, and each word travelled with a Tarara family, the Petricevichs. Here are the words of two brothers who left Dalmatia to dig kauri gum in Northland, Lovre (1887–1976) and Mate (1878–1952):
Lovre Petricevich’s America
I can still hear a treadle from my childhood.
Language is the furious loom of my grandmother
working out our place
with the warp threads of memory,
the weft threads of expectation.
First things first, she ordered, meaning God.
In my village, Živogošće, I was so well known
the priest with the easy smile named a saint
after me. That did not stop bad things happening.
One summer Uncle Josip’s goat jumped
into a dry well, breaking both front legs;
my father helped to haul up the poor creature
before he cut its throat.
You get one chance, sometimes not even one.
A goat bleats in every known language.
Surrounded by the white noise of shells
recovered from the Tasman Sea
I still hear silence
the way an Austrian conscript hears an order
In Deckung gehen! I lie on my own shadow.
The new field has greener grass
but a lamb trembles
separated from its mother.
The stock phrase ‘when I was young’ is an address,
a place loved more intensely
because it can never be entered
again. I am left nowhere,
but a nowhere with new white paint.
Don’t put your hand in New Zealand soil
or your fingers will grow –
that’s what they promised.
Yet the rest of the body will rot in a sod race.
If land is a man’s inheritance,
a man is the land’s inheritance.
Damp clay pulls at your boots,
seals the zig-zag laces,
takes the weight of your body all too briefly.
In the camp kitchen some wit
stuck a sewing needle in the picture of Christ.
We will all go to hell for such sacrilege!
No, we are already there. Chosen
diggers make more than a leap of faith, they
somersault into the hereafter,
like scarab beetles rolling dung…
His windpipe was partly severed, yet
Stipe Frankovy could still talk:
There’s a pile here to be made,
it’s not my luck to get it, I’m done or else
I’ll go to chokey. On the camp table a paper
with his name and the sign of the cross
in outline, emptied of content.
That morning his first hollow-eyed words were:
Get up, put on the billy. I’m dry as a cork.
Or dry as the hills above Podgora.
Inside Makarska’s Franciscan monastery
the names of those who left for ‘America’ wait
to be reclaimed. Swollen with belief then,
I waved to my family from on top of a donkey.
From the bottom of the world, on foot
I wave at midges. I turn my best jacket
inside out – the lining is brighter,
like the face of a single man
at a midsummer picnic
as the girls get ready to swim.
Whoever settles outside his village,
he needs a wife to fill up his life
or he’ll be empty as a bottle of bootleg grappa
after a card game with the neighbours.
Makareta Raharuhi cast her spell
with a soft caress on a mingi mingi mattress,
her underwear cut from flour sacks.
My elder brother Mate, his heart
leapt for the darkly bright Ripeka Tepania,
that teenager bound by her jealous sisters,
set adrift in a dinghy…
Sun blistering her lips, she prayed
and the tide changed.
Her fortune was made
when she was caught in Mate’s worn net.
Love covers its tracks with sleep:
A secret, can I be a part?
You can never tell
how turquoise turns to indigo.
Mate Petricevich’s War
The war was inside our wireless set, sparking
our dark talk that March
Lovre drove between Waitaki Landing and Te Hapua.
He was steady as you go at 50mph, moaning
Where is da bloody
Mio? Da buggar, on Saturday he going
party, all day Sunday party, Monday
a puncture for a mouth… On and on
like the right rear rim after a blow out.
Definitions of right and wrong
sway, long prayer candles in an Easter procession
through Živogošće to the clearest sea.
There are names that are owned by sticks and stones.
Those who are arrested, common as spring insects,
sing loud and clear from their trucks every morning
and a few do it again at dusk,
the way Lovre sang
reversing down the dirt track to Cape Reinga lighthouse.
We remember as a spade remembers
the snarled root. Our old friend
Ivan Radojkovich, he dug with us but took his share
home; when the Austrians came again
he hid in a crypt at Gdinj, climbing
down the steel footholds into darkness,
a darkness that stained his skin –
even praise from Tito could not shift it.
Not even Tito.
It is a land of unfiltered cigarettes
and the plum brandy favoured by Chetniks.
A man is worth less than a bear, even a skunk –
but he smells worse. I come from heaven,
where do you think I come from?
I’m a man like you.
Here is the stone house
where my mother embroiders
each white sheet with our family shield.
Ivan’s mother could sharpen any blade with her voice –
that’s what was said, but not by him. Quiet as
he looked for the next foothold
and a Belgian shotgun with damask twist barrels,
with a slip of light
left to get his bearings.
Ivan believed light is how the soul travels;
animal mineral or vegetable, it makes no difference.
Here the stars glisten like fish-scales on a slipway.
Selected works from the project by Katarina Ivanišin Kardum
From the exhibition
David Howard is the author of Rāwaho: the Completed Poems (Cold Hub Press, 2022) and the editor of A Place To Go On From: the Collected Poems of Iain Lonie (Otago University Press, 2015). He held the Robert Burns Fellowship at Otago University (2013), the Otago Wallace Residency (2014), a UNESCO City of Literature Residency in Prague (2016), the Ursula Bethell Residency at Canterbury University (2016), The Writers’ House Residency, Pazin Croatia (2017), the Grimshaw Sargeson Residency (2018), a UNESCO City of Literature Residency in Ulyanovsk (2019), and a Creative NZ Resilience Grant (2020).
David Howard rođen je 1959. u Christchurchu na Novom Zelandu. Autor je knjige Rāwaho: Završene pjesme (Cold Hub Press, 2022.) i urednik knjige A Place To Go On From: The Collected Poems of Iain Lonie (Otago University Press, 2015.). Bio je stipendist fondacija: Robert Burns Fellowship na Sveučilištu Otago (2013.), Otago Wallace Residency (2014.), Residence UNESCO City of Literature Residence u Pragu (2016.), Residence Ursula Bethell na Sveučilištu Canterbury (2016.), The Writers’ House Residency, Pazin Hrvatska (2017.), Grimshaw Sargeson (2018.), rezidencija grada književnosti UNESCO-a u Uljanovsku (2019.) i Creative NZ Resilience Grant (2020).
Katarina Ivanišin Kardum diplomirala je slikarstvo na City and Guilds of London Art School 1998., a 2000. na Royal College of Art u Londonu završila dvogodišnji Master of Arts poslijediplomski studij slikarstva, nakon čega je u Londonu do 2008. radila kao slobodna umjetnica i predavačica na spomenutom diplomskom studiju. Nakon preseljenja u Hrvatsku, uz umjetnički rad, od 2009. do 2014. radi kao kustosica pedagoginja Prirodoslovnog muzeja Dubrovnik, a od 2014. Tehničkog muzeja Nikola Tesla u Zagrebu. Art radionica Lazareti iz Dubrovnika, u ediciji Knjige umjetnika, 2017. godine izdala joj je knjigu De Materia Avium. Izlagala je na više samostalnih i skupnih izložbi. Živi i radi u Dubrovniku, Zagrebu i na Draču.
Katarina Ivanišin Kardum graduated in painting from the City and Guilds of London Art School in 1998, and in 2000 she completed a two-year Master of Arts postgraduate degree in painting at the Royal College of Art in London, after which she worked as a freelance artist and lecturer in the aforementioned graduate study in London until 2008. After moving to Croatia, in addition to her artwork, from 2009 to 2014 she worked as a museum educator of the Natural History Museum Dubrovnik, and from 2014 as a museum educator of the Technical Museum Nikola Tesla in Zagreb.. In 2017, the Art Workshop Lazareti from Dubrovnik, in the edition of the Artists` Books, published her book De Materia Avium. She has exhibited ata number of solo and group exhibitions. She lives and works in Dubrovnik, Zagreb and Drače.