On Regina Dürig’s Federn lassen – Narrating speechlessness between text and drawing

In Regina Dürig’s novella Federn lassen [Loosing Skin], spaces are created for those moments in which nothing but speechlessness sets in.
Silence, stillness, stiffness and shame guide the short episodes in which the narrator, looking back, observes herself as a nameless “you”. Readers accompany that “you” from childhood to adulthood and become witnesses of transgressions and assaults – physical and mental.

How deep the traces can be that are left by a comment, a harassment, a curtailment of the ability to act has increasingly become an issue in social politics. Sexism, mansplaining, patriarchal and hierarchical structures are still the order of the day. Federn lassen see itself as a text that documents all this and writes against it.

Terrifyingly sober and without exhibiting her character as a victim, Dürig tells of disturbing events, thereby groping for a form and language. Without punctuation, the lines break off after a few words, which gives her prose a lyrical resonance.

The second person perspective consciously creates space for the readers – for their own experience and remembrance, for the echo of their own speechlessness.

In my drawings for Federn lassen, I adopt Dürig’s working method and rhythm: mainly abstract, recurring motifs – drawn in slow pausings, in hasty sketches – illustrate the uneasiness and stumbling that accompanies the reading of the text.

The semi-abstraction that inheres in the drawings has been deliberately chosen: it is intended to expand Dürig’s own spaces, opened by her in writing, by an additional, visual level, without making them too pictorial, but also without foregoing the transmission of emotions.
 

Texts*: Excerpts from Regina Dürig’s Federn lassen
[translated into English by Jonathan Uhlaner, with the support of Goethe Institut Istanbul]
* the texts marked with an asterisk describe violence

Feder lassen was published by –> Droschl Graz in spring 2021.

Drawings: each 17 × 24 cm, is pencil on paper, ongoing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Night blind

Let’s go back this way suggests 
Nino and points to the path 
that dimly branches
off from the forest track and
goes ahead you don’t live
far from here you know 
the forest or park 
or whatever it’s called 
semi-dense greenery
at the tree line to
civilization you walk after
Nino and the night
raises itself up from the grass
it cracks it rustles
don’t be a sissy
you think you’re 
grown up now
and not alone Nino
is lanky and in each of his wrists
there’s a freshly 
screwed-in metal plate
he’s not even allowed
to lift up milk
or sugar or bread but nothing 
can happen here
you think and Nino says
have I ever told you about
my night blindness
he says it straight to the front
you hear it well anyway
that’s not funny you say
and he says seriously
with the light like this I
can hardly see anything
at all and
just when you are about 
to ask how
on earth he got 
the idea to stalk through
the underbrush
you see on the ground
left of you a man
sitting up as if he had
been asleep in the leaves and
as if you had woken him up
a slow movement
a turning of the torso
into wakefulness
a shadow rushes into
your chest
just keep going
you think
just walk
you don’t say anything
nothing
till the forest is
almost behind you
you ask Nino quietly if he
also saw the man 
who was lying there
that’s not funny says
Nino seriously you say
I think there was someone and
Nino knows his hands
are sewn together
from shards
and you can’t
tell if it was an optical illusion
or if sleep itself
had been lying there
ready to rise
and you say
nothing nothing
still nothing you’re in the
yard by the big tree
and only now
a question arises
the only one
what if he
needed help because
why else would someone
be lying on dead leaves and
you ask Nino if you should go
back and Nino asks if you are sure
there was someone there
and you say no
there probably wasn’t anyone after all
and you agree
that you are both night blind
that if there had been a
man he would have said something
would have called for help
or made a sound
you go to sleep but you
don’t sleep because there lingers
something unsatisfactory at the
edges of your breath
rubs and creeps and stays why
was there only running away in you
into your own safety
being weak instead of being human
no warmth no comfort no moss

Housewarming*


You are nineteen
and wave to your
parents in their pumpkin-seed 
green station wagon
the trunk filled
with farewells
toolboxes
cleaning devices and
on the tapas bar’s patio
is the real estate guy
who is always sitting there 
Primke or something
like that who
also waves at
your parents says
well kid now
they’re off
it was a lot of
work wasn’t it and orders
you a crema catalana and
gets you a chair 
and wants to know 
all about the renovations
professional interest
you assume
and after having spooned
the set milk
you say sure I can show
you the apartment quickly
it’s just upstairs and unlock
for the first time
your own apartment
to a guest
point at bathroom and kitchen
there’s the living room
there’s Primke already on
your bed and
pulls you down
so close you
can smell the 
restaurant’s oil in his hair
and kneels on top
of you this Primke
guy you can’t believe
what’s happening
that above you
Primke who had
got boozed up on red wine
evening after evening
with your parents
is kneeling and fumbling
his belt open and
his pants and heavily
breathing so heavy
that before he
can tamper with you
he comes
on your sweater
right next to the
dried paint splodge
silky gloss
brilliant white
on the walls
of whole generations
was what the label said
this is what you think
while the Primke guy
packs in and leaves
not because of
realization compassion lucidity contrition
but just
because of 
blown manhood
and consequent
childish 
shame

 

Public transportation

You’re twenty-four and
a hand is looking
for a key
in your waistband
or change
or a tissue
or perhaps even
a ticket
but you’re sure
that whatever the fingers
are fumbling for
it can’t be found
there
you turn away
it must have been
a mistake
who in the thick of
evening U-Bahn-squeezing
would want to reach into 
someone else’s trousers
you think and 
you stare into the
tunnel noise
put your hands
in the jacket pockets and
hold the pocket-fists
in front of your waist
and while
the automatic woman
announces the
next stop
the hand finds
without any problems
what it was looking for
because it knows
that decisiveness is key 
to get where it wants 
and so
it is quicker
in your underpants
than you and your
fists could do something
useful
and still there’s
not a sound or a word
willing to travel from inside
you to the outside
you just turn away
just leave
the train
into the air
you squeeze
towards the door and see
on your way out exactly
one smiling face 

 

Really

You are thirty-five
you are sitting in the library’s
comfy break room
on the top floor
above you a skylight next to
you tea in your yellow cup
which is one of the reasons why 
you love this place so much
every member has their cup
and supply of teabags in a
personal compartment neatly
partitioned and arranged
so that you can write
as much as you want to you
enjoy taking a break up here 
which still means writing
but in an armchair but with tea
and those who know each other
nod silent greetings before
turning to their books or
laptops well isn’t that
a cheerful cup says the
old man who maneuvers himself
into the armchair next to you he must be
almost hundred years old
you think somehow fit
but nonetheless not quite
here anymore you
offer him a tea bag
because you don’t understand what
the question is about do you 
know where the writing room is
he replies and you explain and
ask even though it’s pretty
obvious is this your first day
here and he confirms the membership
is brand new because he’s writing
a book now as a former hotel physician
in Las Vegas he has so much to tell
he says and Sinatra und Marilyn
he knew them all and you say interesting
and he this is my first book I
just finished the first chapter
and it’s really really good
and you’d like to keep working because
this chat isn’t going to go anywhere 
but more leaning over on your part 
and he says look my daughter printed
it out for me here you can
take it if you want and you say
I don’t know but he keeps offering you
the sheets until they start to tremble
he coughs up air please take them he says
it would make me so happy you take 
them say when I have time
I’ll take a look and your voice
is in italics just like the
light green pre-formatted 
headline font splendid he says
I’d very much like your feedback
on it when you get the chance
whether there’s anything I can improve
you fold the paper into your documents
you open the laptop so that he notices 
your patience has run out you
aren’t typing since you are angry inside
because when will you ever
be able to say no thank no 
I can’t do that for you
no this isn’t my job no
please stop
grating my kindness
and before you can
calm yourself and go 
back to the last paragraph
he slips you a note
in spidery handwriting
in which he asks
you have to read it several times
if you have time tonight to meet
the king of Balochistan
you have to read it again
king is underlined twice
a dinner
in a club with five other
men and no other woman
and if yes then just text
him the club isn’t fixed yet and
now he writes he has to go
find the loo he pushes himself
out of the armchair nods and
puts his business card in
front of you and
says good-bye and
you read the note again
you still don’t know
what the question is about
and why
you look for Balochistan and
find out that the note 
in your lap
is a kingdom in the 
Pakistani provinces which
consists largely of desert 
and five mountains and 
no other woman