Tisa Neža Herlec

︎The Topology of New

The new city doesn’t smell like new.
It is not new in itself.
I am the one that is new.
The city does not recognise me yet.

We are starting to get to know each other.
With endless curiosity.
Nervous shivers of my system ecstatically awaken my senses.

The new city smells like possibilities, lingering in suspension.
It is an empty surface, awaiting inscription.
My inscription.
I am the topographer of a new city.
Once I will know it, it will cease to be new to me.
It will be mine.

Cautiously I roam around this city.
Wherever I go, I drop a pin.
I am creating points of orientation.

It is beautiful to get lost.
It almost transgresses the beauty of being found.

I find myself staring at everything around me closely.
Pondering shapes and movements and stories.
All that is new to me, sweeps me into a state of intrigue.

What I notice consciously are mere fragments of its totality.

            -  A big bridge with humongous strings that hold it together. I imagine a giant, plunged into the river, playing it like a harp with its massive fingers.

            -  That corner shop that sells rice wrapped in grape leaves, a Turkish dish that had been unknown to me. Now I eat it almost daily.

            -  A tree that turns completely yellow, it's a Ginkgo, a male Ginkgo. In another city I used to be friends with a female Ginkgo, a couple of years ago they erased her.

            -  An echoing sound of steps in an underground passage - people play music there sometimes, along with the ravaging sound of motors rumbling while passing by pedestrians and cyclists.

            -  The inner knowledge about which spot in the city park welcomes the evening sun the longest. In that position I hold until the night cold takes over and I retreat indoors.

            -  A statue of a fox - two of them in fact. One is guarding an empty lot, vacated by the force of gentrification. Another one used to be painted purple and blue. A local barber attempted to make it its totem animal, by pasting his logo on its surface. The city resisted this barbaric act and painted the fox with rainbows. She is now free.

            -  The dynamics of people passing by my window at different times of day. On Sundays everybody is walking slower. Accidents happen often on my street, my caution is heightened by the sirens.

            -  Waiting times for traffic lights to turn green. Eventually there is no waiting anymore, the body remembers. I become a part of the flow of traffic, without even thinking about it.

            -  Those cracks in between buildings where the wind howls intensely and biking becomes a harsh task to do, almost a sporty activity. Sometimes I like that. The next street, where the wind calms down, a slipstream makes me feel lighter than a feather, I am flying.

            -  Knowing in which hollow trees green parrots (gone wild) nest. Observing them dance and sing.

            -  Saying hello and thank you and see you again in a language that is common to people that have lived here forever. Not being bothered by my accent. Diversifying the language, making it my own.

            - Visiting the same work of art again and again, each time seeing it in a different way. It is a painting in the basement. It is of the bluest blue. It tingles my senses.

            -  Recurring faces of workers in my daily shopping for groceries. I smile. They smile. I wonder who they are when they are not in uniforms.

            -  Greetings and attention exchanged with homeless people that are at home on my street.

            -  A cafe hiding a peaceful garden where I never meet anyone that I know and this is why I can be whoever I want to be when I am there. Well, it’s not like I couldn’t be myself at other places. It is just the mere possibility of becoming someone else that I have never been that thrills me.

            -  Knowing which metro line to take to my destination without having to look at the map. And yet, sometimes I look at it, just to be sure. Completely sure. This happens on chaotic days, where there is something in the air. Not air or light pollution, something else, I believe.

            -  Meeting familiar faces on the street, exchanging words about our days and thoughts. Sometimes one of us is in a hurry, other times we meet in the abundance of time and stay with each other longer than expected. Those are the best encounters. They comfort me, I somehow know that we will meet again.

            -  Knowing how to dress up appropriately for the weather. The unpredictable beast that ravages our constant wish to be close to the sunlight. Vitamin D in the winter. Lost gloves. Umbrellas destroyed by the wind.

The fragments gradually assemble into a totality.

These points of orientation form some sort of a net.
A map.
A network.
I get caught up in that net eventually.

It gets firmer and more dense with time.

It holds me and I call it a home.

When a friend visits, I show them these places.
I tell them what had happened while we speculate on what could happen.
When they get to know them, they get to know me - in a new
environment, all over again.
I am different when I live here, this city does not know my history.
I make my history here everyday.
By moving, living and wandering around its streets.

When I will move to a different city, for now not yet defined, I will do it all over again.
Put pins on a blank map and make a net out of places, people and memories that I’ve met.
I can always be(come) home - again and again.

The Topology of New is a text that resides in the middle between fiction and the everyday reality of a person that finds themselves in an unknown place, somewhere undefined, somewhere yet undiscovered. Fragment by fragment, the new place loses its newness, becomes familiar.

Tisa Neža Herlec (1996) communicates, organizes, writes, performs and creates imaginaries (with sound, voice, in texts and images). Collaboration, processuality and the friction between structures ignite her inspiration. She is a thinker and a practitioner of the praxis of improvisation, exploring its emancipatory potentials. She obtained her masters diploma in Experimental Publishing at PZI in Rotterdam, and her bachelor in painting at the ALUO in Ljubljana. She performs, exhibits, organizes and publishes around Europe. Her work is accessible at: https://tisa.world/