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Mariana Siracusa on The Lure of the Local
24 June, 2021
Up close and personal: This is how Marguerite Duras in ‘Écrire’, Lucy Luppard in ‘The Lure of the Local’, and Rosalind Krauss in ‘Passages in Modern Sculpture’ describe the ‘spaces’ and ‘places’ they write about. The stories they tell are always about personal experience, even private in Duras’ case, and this allows readers to picture themselves in the narrative. It is a very effective technique, one that architects have often taken advantage of, both in the design process and after the fact when the time comes to communicate the work. I find the cinematic intensity of these excerpts very inspiring.
Place is for me the locus of desire. Places have influenced my life as much as, perhaps more than, people. I fall for (or into) places faster and less conditionally than I do for people. I can drive through a landscape and vividly picture myself in that disintegrating mining cabin, that saltwater farm, that little porched house in the barrio. (My taste runs to humble dwellings nestled in cozy spaces or vulnerable in vast spaces.) I can walk through a neighborhood and picture interiors, unseen backyards. I can feel kinesthetically how it would be to hike for hours though a cast “empty” landscape that I’m dashing through in a car – the underfoot textures, the rising dust, the way muscles tighten on a hill, the rhythms of walking, the feeling of sun and mist on the back of my neck. In the late seventies, I lived on an idyllic farm in England for a year. While there, I wrote a weird short story about a woman who fell erotically in love with the place and was literally absorbed by it. I missed Ashwell Farm terribly when I returned to New York, then I found I could continue to take my daily walks in a kind of out-of-body from – step by step, weather, texture, views, seasons, flowers, wildlife encounters.
I have chosen to weave myself and my own experiences into this book from time to time because lived experience is central to my writing and to the subject of place. While the North American continent is my hazy focus here, my notions of place are inextricable from all the places I’ve lived and been, and from accounts of other localities that have moved me.