The ASI Art Gallery is pleased to present our Artist Feature for the month of November:
Luiza Berthoud, 25, was born in Taubate, a small town in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil. She currently studies Art History, but has previously studied film making in France and law in Brazil. Luiza began writing when she was 11 years old, when she found an old typewriter in her house. Her first and unfinished novel, an apocalyptic tale of a flooded planet earth, is entitled “Goddess”. Since then, she wrote children plays and short stories. “Discomfort” is a chapter in her recent novel, still untitled, that she began writing since moving to Berkeley with her husband earlier in 2014. The novel has only female characters and tells the story of mediocre, unsuccessful lives.”
Everything left an impression on her. Especially dirty things; they could dominate her thoughts without interruption for months. The first thing she would notice anywhere and in anyone was the dirty spot. The sweat stain on someone’s shirt, the litter on the street, the human hair on the floor. A spit, a cough, a pimple. She was attuned to dirt through a magnetic force as strong as her rejection to it. She would hold her breath, close her eyes and clench her skin hoping to be impenetrable. Just to be reminded of the dirtiness of her own self. She constantly felt the hair in her armpits jabbing her skin, the sour taste of bacteria in her mouth, the sweat behind her knees. There was no escape and no relief.
She had always being an uncomfortable person. The biggest sensation in her was that of inadequacy, discomfort. Her tongue felt too big for her mouth, which led her to mispronounce her “r”s and sometimes stutter. The discomfort also occurred in her silences – the tongue couldn’t find a resting place in her mouth, it didn’t settle on the top of her mouth or behind her teeth. Like a soft and stale dough, it was felt like a foreign object and its constant movements dried up her saliva and made it impossible for her to relax.
That is also how her breasts felt. They were big and fell to the sides. Rather than looking full and heavy, they seemed withered. She would often grab them with her hands, squeezing hard, fantasizing about removing them violently. There was not a moment of her existent when she didn’t feel her breasts’ presence, the heaviness that hurt her back, the sweat accumulated underneath where the skin was reddish and sensitive. For some years during her youth, four thick and black hairs grew on her left boob. She would pluck them out with tweezers but still would sometimes, in a panic, look down fully expecting them to be visible through her clothes.
She was also uncomfortable to be around. Usually other people wouldn’t notice her at first and no one ever memorized her name when first introduced. She was not as bad looking as she felt; she just didn’t have any memorable features. There was a disharmony in her face and one could never quite distinguish her shape, partly because of the baggy clothes she wore, partly because of her bad posture.
The excess fat in her, although not much, accumulated irregularly, making wobbly forms that made her clothes always seem ill fitting. But she could have been a normal kind of ugly girl, had it not been the sensation she caused on others. Her discomfort was not so obvious to the eyes, but rather formed as a quiet idea on the back of the mind. One would feel rather than actually see that she was constantly sucking up her stomach.
Nonetheless, there had been three boys that had loved her.