This Moment In Serendipity: A Bag Of Air
BY JOEY SWEENEY
I was feeling some kind of way when I woke up yesterday, and decided that I could do a thing that only a certain substrata of the mildly underemployed ever get to do: I took the day off to read. It’s a wild privilege to be able to do it — and I’ll be paying for it the rest of the week to be sure — but it turns out that Taking The Day Off To Read should be the new CBD.
Anyway, during this day of reading, the oddest thing happened: The same work of art — the one you see above, A Bag Of Air, by British artist Tacita Dean — was mentioned in the two things I read! Works of fiction, no less! What are the odds? I came across it first, where it is referenced obliquely in this excerpt from María Gainza’s Optic Nerve that appeared in Harper’s back in May. Imagine my surprise, just an hour or two later, when it shows up again in Ali Smith’s Spring. In one section, she quotes Tacita Dean directly:
If you rise at dawn in a clear sky, and during the month of March, they say you can catch a bag of air so intoxicated with the essence of spring that when it is distilled and prepared, it will produce an oil of gold, remedy enough to heal all ailments.
Here in deepest summer, Dean’s gambit is of little use; we’re all feeling more bag than air today, I’d imagine. But it’s the serendipity of it all that leads me to share it here. Each of these works I’d found moving; each of them I happened upon more or less by accident or friendly recommendation; but now, come to find out, each of them is connected. An oil of gold, you say. Remedy enough to heal all ailments.