The last post. The last performance. The last time we meet. This can’t last. I’ve played before in the space of lasts. The Chicago-based Goat Island performance company came to an end in 2009, not a victim of the slow collapse of liberal global capitalism – though that would make a great story – but, after 20 years of practice, for the poetics. The Last Performance was a ‘constraint-based collaborative writing, archiving and text-visualization project responding to the theme of lastness in relation to architectural forms, acts of building, a final performance, and the interruption (that becomes the promise) of community.’ Based on the architecture of a Byzantine dome, The Last Performance evolved over two years, alongside the creation and performance of the company’s final work, The Lastmaker. The writing project and the performance evolved in parallel and shared generative constraints. I was lucky enough to be a part of it, although my contributions are now lost in the density of the dome. My chosen constraint was: Construct a last performance in the form of a heavy foot that weighs 2 tons and remains in good condition.
Wikipedia tells me that a last is a mechanical form that has a shape similar to that of a human foot. It is used by shoemakers and cordwainers in the manufacture and repair of shoes. Lasts typically come in pairs and have been made from various materials, including hardwoods, cast iron, and high-density plastics. As my Human Seasons postings have so often been about moving, it seems fitting that last night I unpacked one of the last boxes. I’ve been desperate to reduce the heavy load in the third bedroom, an abject space that pitches wildly as though it imagines itself to be a ship on a stormy sea. Under the now-stripped wallpaper is the wonderfully fierce instruction: Fuck da police, written in bubble letters. I wonder who lived in the tiny room and whether they dreamed of sea-faring. Most of the heavy stuff has now been tucked into other spaces. What remains is a wardrobe, a box and 2 suitcases. The last large box contained shoes I no longer wear but can’t quite face throwing away. It also contained a shoe form – not a last – but from a size of shoe I’ll never grow into. Unsure what to do with it, I’ve left it in the middle of the room. Another thing to stop me from grappling with the impossible labour of making that space liveable. The last stand.
The last time that I walk into work thinking about a Human Seasons post. So I was heartened by the appearance of these little magical agents, who greeted me from the deli window. Although the fashion sites say it’s all about the men and Movember started in 2004, girl moustaches have been irritating the internet since 2008 or so. About that time, a friend’s birthday on the Cornish coast was spent in glorious stick-on ‘taches as we danced until dawn. I didn’t think about it as a ‘thing’ until the summer of 2015, when I was overwhelmed by feminine moustache mystique. A moustache on a woman or a fish is unexpectedly powerful. A carnivalesque topsy-turvy donning of the sign of the oppressor? Why would a fish wear its murderer’s moustache? Whatever is going on with them, these cute-n-coy feminised moustaches seem to make some men very angry. They make me slightly hysterical.
I arrive in the office without further moustachioed incident, though I should check that my flat white hasn’t left its own mark on my upper lip. Today my diary tells me that I must write this post, catch up on the one I missed, confirm my meeting with Hugh Brody to finalise our conversation on 30 March as part of the Royal Anthropological Institute Film Festival, fill in my Annual Research Review form for my Critical Friend meeting, read and comment on Faculty Conference and Research fund applications, book a coach to London, read my PhD student’s latest draft, check my School’s PhD theses for plagiarism via Turnitin, write the paper for my gig in Victoria next week (terrible guilt about the academic carbon footprint) and go to the gym. That is clearly ridiculous. And yet it must be. There is no last task there.
It’s after 11am now and I must crack on with the to-do list. I’ve enjoyed my time in the Human Seasons and the way in which the invitation has demanded a different kind of attention and writing. I’ve enjoyed sharing this space with a gang of people who spin beautiful yarns. I’ll miss you terribly. I leave you with Donna Summer because Spring is around the corner and archaeology is, if nothing else, totally disco.