(the “Generation Y. Interview 2” is coming next week)
If there is such a thing as pure man’s world then my new studio is located in one. First, to get to the location you have to dodge enormous trucks hauling enormous amounts of potato chips, roofing materials, cement and hardwood. You also have to dodge a freight train that comes charging in the middle of the street like an enraged bull pulling loads of unmarked goods (I doubt if they are fragile perfume boxes or tiny bottles of nail polish). When you successfully have dodged the truckloads of danger and enter the final stretch to your destination, you have to pass through a line of men who wait for their trucks to unload on the docks. If you are a man they measure up your size, your physical capacity to fight. They check for the spark in your eye to see if you’ll chicken out when they make a sudden and threatening move. If you are a female, well… Your fertility levels are quickly assessed and louded with cat calls and gestures intent on making Venus blush.
This is not the dainty world of trained in restraint corporate males where an innocent compliment (- You look really nice today, Amanda!) could get them fired with indignity. The men here are either self employed or employed by people who have never heard about standards of politically correct behavior.
But there is also another kind of male here – a conservative man who flees in panic seeing a woman’s skirt cut above her knee. It’s just not done where he is from.
In both cases, sex is on the mind.
The skirt I used to wear without fear in Manhattan’s Wall Street area, the long skirt with a cut so deep you could see the seams where my legs are attached to body, I adjusted to the new conditions by wearing an underskirt, so no legs above ankles are visible.
The sex jokes and wonderful sex words I used to pepper my conversations with (- My new film is about pussy juice! virginity is for olive oil!) are guillotined out of my casual elevator conversations with my neighbors. I took down some suggestive and provocative pictures off my walls. Not to irk the shy. Not to rouse the bold.
But sex in this world, although so obvious to a visiting female, is only an afterthought to the men working here, a mere diversion from something more important.
A possibility of an accident and death is always present here. And – the subconscious male struggle for dominance, seemingly a game that never ceases to interest them but in fact it’s a real need to find out who is stronger, bigger, smarter, wittier, more fertile. Add to that some severe cultural tensions (the building is a melting pot of conflicting cultures) and at times I feel as if I have entered the setting of “Ajami”, the 2009 Oscar nominated film from Israel where the characters’ life is depicted as a tightrope walk above Field of Death, with an Angel of Destruction hovering above sprinkling adrenaline and testosterone.
Few years ago a carpenter’s young assistant was pushing a box into a freight elevator. Exactly the moment when the man’s head and hands were inside the elevator a cable disconnected and the elevator fell down pulled by Gravity – fast and furious.
It cut the man’s torso in two halves – one with the box in the elevator, the other – outside, near the “push” button.
After learning about the accident I tend to step inside the elevator quickly and sometimes chose stairs ‘just to be safe’ (although the stairwell doesn’t incite too much trust either as it is slippery after rain and dark after twilight).
Few weeks ago a fight broke out on an unloading dock, in a broad daylight. What was it about remains a mystery (no participant of that fight explained their reasons to the spectators), but the fact remains – police arrived without delay and efficiently handcuffed some of the men.
Anything can happen at any time. The men who work with dangerous tools (carpenters, electricians, lathe operators) know it. We, who work with the help of a mouse and keyboard are able to imagine ourselves invincible and Eternal.
Having a mouse and keyboard studio near men who work with dangerous tools puts things in perspective for me.
You better be ready for anything when you enter that darn elevator.