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Tom Littlewood über Martin Fengel #15


Zeit wird’s für den nächsten Ausflug in die textliche Erklärungswelt zu Martin Fengel’s Werkschau. Heute setzt Tom Littlewood, Chefredakteur des VICE Magazins, die montägliche Kommentarserie fort und gibt einen sehr privaten Einblick in die Angstmomente während seines ersten Fluges: Ein Text zum Mitzittern.


Before I took my first flight, I didn’t know a lot about planes. I guess like the average person, I had never visited an airport, and the only time I’d seen an aeroplane “in the flesh” was at a war museum or an airshow, either relics of ancient battles, or engaged in some death defying loop-de-loop. Of course, I had seen them on TV. In fact, I’d seen quite a lot of planes on TV, jets to be precise. They were generally engaged in high profile military conflicts, swooping in to save the day, by blowing something up. The footage was often accompanied by death counts.

The advent of air travel for most, if not all, was therefore a seminal event in my life. The illustrious world of aviation travel, the Wright brothers, US presidents, John Travolta – the doors to another world had been opened. Of course there were a few compromises. Furnishings were bright and plastic, service was surly, space was cramped, put bluntly, it was cheap. This was of course, the key factor in its success, but didn’t help the endemic spread of “aviophobia”, a combination or resultant of “claustrophobia”, “acrophobia” and “agoraphobia”, to name but a few. If I fear for my safety, knowing that I paid less to put myself in this situation, doesn’t really help calm my nerves. Add to this strict security measures, police and a lot of other people of a similar disposition, and the act of entering a plane, puts one in quite a fragile mental and physical state.

Considering this somewhat fraught “foreplay” the actual act of flying sees a sudden reduction, or better put, focusing of inner turmoil. A common reflex when overwhelmed by sensory anxiety, we look to a figure of strength, someone to take at least some of the responsibility for our well being. Luckily there’s one sitting right in front of us – the pilot. Unfortunately, he or she, is sitting behind a secure door, in the ominously titled “cockpit”. Out of frantic necessity, the pilot becomes an abstract figure, a construct in our minds. We project the image of our hero onto them. A projection tethered to reality through the limited contact we have. An address over a low quality public announcement system. A distorted voice delivering information we didn’t ask for, but laden with significance. At least they seem informed, that’s reassuring. We reach “cruising altitude” – a phase of the flight, in which the pilot gently reclines in his seat, one arm out of the window, playfully tapping his fingers on the leather steering wheel, while Martha Reeves serenades the other members of the “cockpit” from the on board radio. He’s so relaxed up there, everything under control, gees, I’m so up tight. I’ll undo my seat belt. I’m glad he can’t see me right now, it would be so embarrassing, such a novice.

Suddenly the cabin jolts, a stern, yet polite noise tells me to put my seat belt back on. What was that? I thought we were “cruising”, it kind of felt like we just hit something. What’s the air equivalent to roadkill? OMG, maybe it was a bird. Maybe a bird just got sucked into the engine. Do birds fly this high? I think I saw that once on YouTube. Don’t think about that. If only I could talk to the pilot. Why isn’t he telling me it’s going to be ok?



Hintergründe zum Projekt “Wachs” von Martin Fengel:
Martin Fengel schickt jede Woche einem Künstler, Autor und anderen Menschen, dessen Arbeit oder Werk er besonders schätzt, ein Foto mit der Bitte, dies zu betrachten und ein paar Zeilen über die einströmenden Assoziationen aufzuschreiben. So entsteht zu dem optischen auch ein textliches Kompendium, was sowohl die Möglichkeit der Interpretation oder einfach nur der Beschreibung birgt.

Auf mucbook und im Blog der Villa Stuck zeigen wir jeden Montag – wenn das neue Bild aufgehängt wird – was sich eine Person dazu dachte. Gerne ist auch jeder Leser des Blogs dazu eingeladen, in der Kommentarzeile frei und ungestüm weiter zu assoziieren. Begleitet wird Fengel‘scher Bildatlas durch vier Veranstaltungen, allesamt musikalischen Ursprungs, die in enger Zusammenarbeit mit Martin Wöhrl, Bernd Zimmer, dem Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks und dem Münchner Label GOMMA entstehen.

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