Interlude Docs

Doc 097: Manon Lutanie

I lost A., and I don’t know what to do when I lean out the window, when I’m at a café, when I arrive at a party. My whole body is awkward. I have a restlessness and sadness that are too weak to be unbearable, but too strong to put aside.

I was young when I met A. She was a few years older than me. The first time we spoke on the phone, I wondered how anyone could speak so arrogantly. I was delighted by her presence and her gestures. I couldn’t get enough of her. I would always feel abandoned when she left, when she hung up, and I would try to recover, to not ask for too much. When I was allowed to be there, simply in her presence, I felt good, I held my breath. I knew that it would soon be over, that it would be taken away.

At night, when my chest hurt, I didn’t care. There were times when she would talk down to me, make a scene, and give me that little icy look to let me know that I had screwed up. In general, I didn’t screw up that much, but it was part of the rhythm of our relationship. 

I had tried to leave her three times. On the first night I found myself biting my nails, drinking alone to keep my cool. Inevitably, I would fall back into it. The time we spent together was short, but it was strong. It made things worthwhile. My mother would notice when I had spent time with her because my voice carried inflections that weren’t mine. When V. was dying, his face swollen with illness, when D. got sick, each time I told myself that I had to stop, or I would end up dying too. 

One evening in July, I said it was over. For the next ten days, I set up replacement therapy, then nothing. Sometimes it was okay, sometimes it felt like a part of my body had been removed. To give herself a sense of composure, she acted as if she was the one leaving me, unable to stop herself from luring me back every three weeks with a text, a note, a derisive sign. Each time, it crushed me. The hardest thing was not to see her hanging on the lips of strangers or touching the hands of passers-by, it was to face her absence when I was alone, to accept that she would no longer come and open this breach in reality that allowed me to extract myself from any situation and to feel alive, connected, more attentive to the outline or the beauty of things. 

Sometimes, in the evening, when I closed the window, I thought I could smell the cut grass and would remain suspended for a moment in the sharp air.

Manon Lutanie’s most recent film, Naked Blue, 17’, co-directed with Mati Diop, premiered in October 2022 at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, to an original composition by Devonté Hynes. Her press Éditions Lutanie was founded in 2009 and has published books by artists such as Faye Wei Wei, Marianne Vitale, Rene Ricard, Michael Heizer, and Walter De Maria. She lives and works in Paris.


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