The Ceremony


Inés Marcó
translated by Alex Niemi


Guard of the Brotherhood
Brothers of the Circle

The characters meet at the entrance of a large urinal. The Pope is waiting for them.

Before entering, the brothers greet the Pope by turning in circles and waving their hands as if dancing the tarantella.

Everyone wears paint-stained aprons.

After the greeting, the Pope bestows a brush and palette on each of them.  The brothers introduce themselves and crawl one by one into the hole of the urinal.

Once inside, the ceremony begins.

The Pope asks the Guard of the Brotherhood if all present belong to the circle.  The Guard of the Brotherhood makes his rounds and confirms that they do.

Pope: Dada. Dada. Let the meeting begin!

All (in a church whisper): Dada. Dada.

Pope: In this, the 92nd year of our era, we will initiate a layman to our circle.

There is a knock at the door.

Pope: Who goes there?

Layman (from outside): A layman who wishes to be an artist.

Pope: Enter!

The Layman enters, crawling through the hole.  He has a tilted beret, a fake mustache, short pants, and suspenders. He is blindfolded. Once inside, they remove his beret, tear off his mustache and put him in an apron.
The brothers beat their paintbrushes against their palettes, frightening the Layman.

Pope: Before entering the brotherhood you must pass the test.  Why do you wish to be an artist?

Layman: Because I am a good person of good report.

The Pope orders them to bring the linseed oil.

Two brothers hold the arms of the Layman to restrain him while another pours the linseed oil over his head.

The Layman squirms.

All (in unison): This is not a pipe! This is not a pipe!

The Layman kneels and is given his brush and palette.

Pope: Do you swear on your honor never to betray your brothers?

Layman: Yes, I swear.

Pope: Do you swear that if you do betray your brothers, you will relinquish your brush and palette?

Layman: Yes, I swear.

Pope: And lastly, do you swear never to reveal the secrets of art?

Layman: Yes, I swear.

Pope: Remove his blindfold!

When the blindfold is removed, the Layman is dazzled by a flash of light.  Something spins above the Pope, who looks on, petrified.  The Layman manages to make out, after a moment, the wheel of a bicycle.

All: Dada! Dada!

Pope (hitting his gavel on the podium three times and yelling with arms raised): The circle has a new brother!

Layman (murmurs fearfully): Dada, Dada.

The Layman trembles, clinging to his palette and brush.

The scene recedes and goes dark.

* *

Image: “Un cuadro expresionista” (An Expressionist Painting, 2009) by Inés Marcó

The Ceremony first appeared as part of  Inés Marcó’s exhibit “The Ceremony. Paintings,” curated by Lara Marmor in June 2012 at Pan Libros, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

MarcóInés Marcó was born in Concordia, Argentina, in 1984. She currently lives in Paris.  She studied at the National University of the Arts (IUNA) in Buenos Aires and learned a lot from Pablo Siquier, Juan Doffo, Gabriel Baggio, and Ernesto Ballesteros. She’s interested in a number of problematics in art and painting. She began painting with gouache after seeing Laylah Ali working. She likes the art of Roni Horn, Liliana Porter, and many others.
NiemiAlex Niemi is a translator from French, Spanish and Russian studying at the University of Iowa’s MFA program in Literary Translation. She is also currently working with Chilean author Matías Correa and Uzbek poet Alina Dadaeva. Latin American readings she's recently enjoyed include Federico Falco and Marosa di Giorgio.

Published on September 3rd of 2013 in Fiction.

[ + bar ]

The German Lesson

Eva Marer

The German teacher lived on a street of towering trees. Their weeping boughs stroked the curb, leaving sun-dappled green tunnels you could walk through.... Read More »

Vincent Toro


A circular path is carved through your front yard.

Pink sinkholes... Read More »

from The Sofa Sages

Eitán Futuro translated by Jennifer Croft

Lara began to kiss me. I hadn’t kissed her first because I thought you couldn’t kiss them on the mouth. I touched... Read More »

Die großen Bäume. Eine Juno-Novellette.

 Paul Scheerbart

Die großen Bäume tasteten mit ihren langen Astarmen immer heftiger in der Luft herum und konnten sich gar nicht beruhigen; sie wollten durchaus... Read More »

» subscribe!