For this edition of Fan Mail, Csilla Klenyánszki from Rotterdam, Netherlands has been selected from our worthy reader submissions. Two artists are featured each month—the next one could be you! If you would like to be considered, please submit your website link to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Fan Mail’ in the subject line.
Our back porch has a screen door but the rod that goes into the pneumatic closer is bent so we leave it permanently propped open. In the spring, we would leave the doors open and the fan going so Shadow could get out to the backyard at leisure. In and out of the kitchen door, bringing in sticks and strings, a wren went unnoticed for a while. It took us a few times of seeing the bird before we saw the nest. On the top shelf of the kitchen, the food dehydrator, which had been sitting there for a while, was the site of the nest. No babies, so we moved the home outside to be reassembled into nature.
Later in the summer, I picked up a box of Borax from atop the water heater closet on the back porch and it looked filled with dirt and dog hair, so I put is aside for Rebecca to examine and comprehend how the powder got so filthy. Unbeknownst to me, it had four baby birds in it. I even heard the peeping but thought it was outside birds. Only a few days on the back porch and they had all left the nest. The parent bird was busy darting from and returning to the box. I brought my cousin and Dad to check it out but the babies were gone. I had caught only one glimpse of them, and then I doubted seeing them at all.
That same spring, a mockingbird built its nest in the spiny bush next to the front door. When we’d walk through the yard, the mockingbirds were on patrol to protect the nest and would dive at you or graze you on the back to protect the chicks. They would perch on our bench and they made it hard to work in the yard with their attacks on us. And in the overhang of the roof, a nest of starlings were installed. Like the siege tunnels of Gibraltar, they were hidden from view with a good vantage point of the yard. Their peeps were constant on the front porch, with a loudness that meant they were protected.
One evening a baby possom appeared in the bathroom. There was a heavy rain happening and the kid looked drenched. He moved quickly, up the tank, across the vanity, jumped down, and skidded on the tile, his little toe nails clicking. His tiny ears were translucent and his fingers and tail pure pink. I was scared of the possum whereas Rebecca was entertained and the one to force it back through that hole it came out of, below the vanity where the catch pipe comes through. I remembered a run-in that I’d had with a big momma on my back porch one day, seething, growling, etc. We filled the hole and glued some wood over it. We could still hear it chewing. It must have come from outside, maybe from a nest below the floorboards.
Wild animals have made their homes all around us, always in secret at first. Inside the home is refuge from weather and predators. Our home has invaders no matter what we do, in our muggy summers, mold grows rampant, palmetto bugs and fruit flies appear. The fly traps we built from a cut-in-half plastic water bottles with the top inverted and sealed with tape then filled with vinegar-sugar seem to be drowning a bunch. This is our domain. We have dominion over our landscape. This is the house that makes a home. This place is always coming apart. A pot of rice burns on the stove. This place has to be aired out, and the wet air drifts in. The back door is open again.
Csilla is originally from a small city in Hungary, but now lives in a 6th floor apartment in Rotterdam. Not in the center of the city, she can enjoy an urban life in conjunction with the view of a small lake from her window. Her carefully constructed images show her domestic life and the objects that she knows best. This year she participated in expositions at Kadmium (Delft), Loods 6 (Amsterdam), and Fenixloodsen (Rotterdam). This month she will show in Arnhem, Netherlands as well.