Diário de bordo (Logbook), 2021
A shop sign, a street name, the label of a bottle of mineral water, a logo printed on a napkin. These are all subliminal messages. We first met on 17/07/1997, then went on to live in a house at number 170. Synchronicity and intertext. Synchrony is a construction resulting from a relationship of meaning, unlike coincidence, which comes about by chance. Travel diaries are made up of texts in between, that don’t ask for permission and bring together at least two worlds, two dimensions – of traveller and place.
The house of the priestess Adedoyin Olosun in Osogbo was built by her mother, the Austrian artist Susanne Wenger. The priestess hosted me there and on the wall opposite my bed, the paint peeling off revealed a poem in German that had been written over again and again. Those words were an intersection of worlds, a piece of Germany in Nigeria. Among the other words there, the poem read, “Nun sind letzendlich Vögel doch eingeladen, i.e. Jenseits Zeit als es da noch Vögel gab”, or “Now the birds are invited at last, i.e. beyond time when there were still birds”. I didn’t understand the message at first, but got used to it, accepted its mysteries. I interpreted it as if the message inviting the birds to the feast had been delayed, now there were no more birds, we have gone too far.
Later, I was told that the poem refers to the title of a painting from 1947 by Susanne Wenger, called “Die Vögel sind nicht eingeladen”, “The birds are not invited”, that she painted a few years before leaving Europe for Nigeria, where she would spend the rest of her life. In this picture, several birds are gathered around a dinner table and are served thighs, wings, a heart. Decades later, could Susanne have changed her mind, leaving this note on the wall as a reminder not to forget to invite the birds again?
Other writings from the beyond came to me, messages that I would learn on the streets.
Akara fritters were wrapped in the used pages of school exercise books, instead of in napkins. I kept one of these ‘napkins’ that read: “How the Earth revolves around the sun”. Science is one, among many forms of knowing the invisible.