In a carefully chosen Warhol box in my living room are all the cards I sent Jizzy and all the cards she sent me. The origins of her nickname don’t matter. She did. She was six feet in her stocking feet, clever and funny, dead at 37, my introduction to the limitations of modern medicine. One day, she asked “Do you have all my cards?” And when I said of course, she said “Well I have all of yours so why don’t you take them and then you have the whole correspondence.” I have let go or disposed of other things, but the cards stay.
Her family was Scottish on one side, German on the other. This was a big deal for me. My father had lived through two world wars and I am my father’s daughter. Among the many other things she did for me, the Jiz made me reconsider identity, hers and mine.
And many of the cards came from a collection of artists who published as inkognito (not a misspelling) in Berlin and after a pause (nothing is static) I found some of them again. And I can’t offer you my favourites because they are not on the website.
The first and most important one was of a flying pig (by Michael Sowa). I don’t know about you but when things are unlikely, I make reference to the unseen pig in the sky. We no longer talk about hen’s teeth but the pig in the sky has survived – the unlikely thrill of an enormous inflatable pig floating about the sound stage at a Pink Floyd concert years ago. The pig on the card is not softened into nursery rhyme or animation, he is a pig and he has no wings. He is embarked on the brief moment of flight into a pool. Or maybe over it. Or maybe he believes he will clear it – but he won’t. You can see he won’t. So has he misjudged the jump ? Or does he hope ? Or does he care – because in the brief moment of flight – and I can tell you this from the only time I ever paraglided – he doesn’t care …. It’s not that life flashes before you but that the present overrides everything else. It must be as exciting for a pig as for a human, and it was such a release to this human. A troubled girl I knew swam with dolphins and described a similar sort of liberation but you don’t need the experience. The image is the experience. I am sure that is why the card sold.
Jiz and I liked pigs. Much maligned for their love of muck, they are intelligent and their tissue very close to human – you can make a human repair from a pig. Early on (this card correspondence lasted a year, sending one every two or three days, me to her, her to me, starting because I wanted her to have something through the post that wasn’t official like a bill or notice of another hospital appointment but something offered, something benign) I sent her a black and white photograph of some pigs playing, she responded with a pig in a biplane and then I found – again through inkognito – the image she made into her screensaver(by Gerhard Gluck – with an umlaut over the “u”). This shows a very plain man being adored by a very plain pig and on the man’s cheek, instead of the predictable cupid’s bow lipstick mark, is the unmistakeable mark of the pig’s snout, his kiss. So the message is must be that – as a cat can look at a king – so a pig too may aspire to love and be loved.
She sent me a picture of a panther walking a tightrope between two houses in the snow with a book in his mouth – “you and your books” she teased. She sent me a picture of a sleeping girl carefully covered with a book – “how I think of you, when you talk about books you love” she wrote. She sent me a picture of a woman, her hair untidy, her coat unfastened , arms outstretched rushing towards the sea – “you and life” – I could hear her smiling through the writing. Among my blessings I count Jiz.