white matter

“The words are my colors”.

Springtime in Berlin-Kreuzberg. With my toolbox on wheels I felt like a tourist, while searching for Alice Evermores apartment. Before she moved to Berlin she lived in Brussels and New York. “This time I’ll probably stay”.

After visiting participants in their battered working spaces, it’s a nice surprise to be welcomed with coffee, cake and classical music in Alice’ tasteful ambience.


I confronted her with what Jon had painted some days ago and went out for a cigarette. Standing downstairs in the yard I could hear the music streaming out of Alice’ window.

When I came back she had set up an old printer and looked through some list of words I could not classify. Without saying a word she printed some phrases and cut them out. Carefully she placed them on the nine colorful columns that used to be Jons paintings.

When I offered her to use the acrylic paint, I brought, but she denied it. “The words are my colors”.

I couldn’t find a direct connection between those words but I felt they belonged together in some way. I thought they might be associations Alice had made with the abstract paintings, but then she told me they were taken from one of her texts “White Matter”. It’s a piece she wrote for a film, about memories and thoughts of a character, the connection of remembering, thinking and being (as I interpreted it).


For many years she writes stories, poems, books, sometimes just lists. With dedication. She told me that it usually takes a long time to work on something, as 90 percent of her creative work might be happening in the head.


“I give an idea to the paintings”

Thepaintings have no figurative content, no story to tell. They are an arrangement of color. So Alice decides to relate the phrases with the paintings randomly. She starts with “the alpha-echo-antenna”. As soon as it is attached to its new purple surrounding the brain starts to flook for a connection. “It works like anything that happens around us. The background, where we are, the city, the u-tube, all that can be completely random and not connected to our thoughts. I give an idea to the paintings.”

We attached the words to the paintings permanently, meanwhile thinking of how to present the work.


Several ideas popped up. We could frame them, put them behind glass, make an installation, provide them with meaning and importance.

Eventually we would go out and buy some cardboard, the paintings in Alice hands, like a treasure. Now that she had put an extra meaning to them I felt like they were indispensable relicts, our mission.


Alice was still thinking about if that was a good solution. I put her in a really stressful situation by asking her to create something spontaneously, without to time to over think, with strange material, abstraction almost like a blank page.

“Being an artist is a dilemma.” On one hand you question yourself all the time, always try to justify what you’re doing, doubt if it’s good enough, if the work will be appreciated, if you yourself can even appreciate it. On the other hand you have to present yourself as a very confident person, convinced by what you’re doing, defend your vision, sell your vision, fulfill the roll of the passionated genius, in order to fit the market.

“Success means something different to many people. For some it is satisfying to organize a show for their friends and have a good night, for others it is important to be supported by some renown gallery.” Being in artist, no matter which genre has become very different in times of the internet. It’s way easier to publish something. The result: a flood of creative products.

When we returned from our walk, we put our paintings to the cardboard and I felt very pleased with the presentation of Alice’ work.

At that point I did not know that she would not just put aside and let it be.

Some days later Alice surprised me with a beautiful idea and a sweet accessoire for my toolbox.


The labels on color had reminded us of old bottles, medicine jars, exhibits of long gone times.
Alice found those tiny bottles in her flat, which she provided with little self-made copies of Jons paintings and labeled them with the phrases from “white matter”.
The seemingly random combination of word and color is, what creates a tension and suggests a connection, where there is none.
The recipient will have to search for an explanation, for a concept.
I feel like Alice memory-phrases fit in perfectly well in the cloudy, colorful pictures. Like clear, sharp thoughts in a chaotic, dense sphere. Like the “white matter” in a psychotic world.