Tales of the Unexpected: the work of Bedwyr Williams


We step into the weird and wonderful world of Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams and his surreal staged performances


Words by Veronica Simpson

There’s a rather wonderful moment walking into Bedwyr Williams’ installation at Cardiff National Museum — a 20-minute animation of a speculative city in one of north Wales’ most remote beauty spots — where you realise you know half the buildings in this fantasy landscape. After Googling ‘the world’s most controversial buildings’, Williams came up with a host of celebrity structures: there’s Frank Lloyd-Wright’s voluptuous Guggenheim; a glass-walled monolith that looks like Rem Koolhaas’ CCTV Building in Beijing; another that apes the splayed-bat form of the Ryugyong Hotel in North Korea. Nestled into the background there is even a version of Zaha Hadid’s Cardiff Opera House scheme, famously rejected by the elder statesmen of Cardiff back in the Nineties.

This immersive piece — rendered in high-fidelity cinematic matte painting — is both beautiful and intentionally repellant. Tyrrau Mawr (2016) is a glittering grotto of crystal structures, exemplifying the contemporary reverence for status skyscrapers and building-by-numbers city-making. But the hypnotic allure of its swooshing synth soundtrack and impressive light effects is subtly but viciously undercut by Williams’ deadpan Welsh monologue that accompanies the film, peopling these towers with the banal or disillusioned musings of concierges, poets, shy architects (‘too shy to sing in his own car’), foodies, litter-louts and construction workers. It’s hilarious — at various times bitingly funny, banal and touchingly observant of small moments in ordinary lives.

Williams is a master of the visual and verbal gag; the layering of material, text, image, photos, film, sculpture, room-set or soundtrack to create maximum emotional friction, provoking everything from laugh-out-loud humour to extreme discomfort and all shades in between. One minute we’re on the construction site, with the ‘architects and engineers in their high-visibility jackets’, wincing at the braggadocio and bluster of the developer bankrolling this Welsh super-city (he meets a grisly end — propelled into the foundations of a ‘wellness centre’ by a jet-spray of concrete); then it’s two decades later and we’re inside the head of the hotel concierge who stares up at the penthouse bar of his high-rise hotel, remembering how, 20 years earlier he envied the partygoers on the top floor; now he reflects that neither he nor his children will ever experience that kind of high-flyer lifestyle.

Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams, who is shortlisted for the 2017 Artes Mundi prize. Image Credit: Polly ThomasWelsh artist Bedwyr Williams, who is shortlisted for the 2017 Artes Mundi prize. Image Credit: Polly Thomas

The presence of these celebrity buildings doesn’t mean anything, Williams assures me. ‘In a way the famous buildings in there are just little Easter eggs. I’m not making a point about them. It’s just something for the hard of thinking to chew on.’ Williams also notes that some of the structures that once caused a furore are now universally admired — namely, the Guggenheim. And looking at the linear simplicity of Hadid’s proposed Opera House, one wonders that it could ever have divided opinion so fiercely. With the bail-out over this building, Williams recalls: ‘We kind of blotted our copybook architecturally as a nation.’

Undoubtedly, the inclusion of Hadid’s unbuilt monument to Welsh musical culture is intended to aggravate these old national wounds. ‘I’m interested in embarrassment,’ he says. ‘I’m constantly embarrassed myself and I like sharing that feeling. I like the idea of puffed-up people being felled by embarrassment.’

Views of the Installation for Wales at the Venice Biennale 2013. Image Credit: Courtesy The Artist and Limoncello, LondonViews of the Installation for Wales at the Venice Biennale 2013. Image Credit: Courtesy the artist and Limoncello, London

His work is often described as ‘relational’ in that he celebrates the uncelebrated, the misfit, the nerdy, the outsider. One of his most celebrated early pieces (now in the Saatchi Collection) is Walk a Mile in My Shoes (2006), which comprises a rack of size 13 shoes (his own size) in which people were invited to clomp around the gallery, experiencing the clownish aspects of having oversized feet. He has made a point of championing the downtrodden, from model railway to astronomy enthusiasts.

Views of the Installation for Wales at the Venice Biennale 2013. Image Credit: Courtesy The Artist and Limoncello, LondonViews of the Installation for Wales at the Venice Biennale 2013. Image Credit: Courtesy the artist and Limoncello, London

For example, he represented Wales at the 2013 Venice Art Biennale with Starry Messenger, a show which drew on Venice’s links to astronomy (it was here that Gallileo introduced the telescope); it included an amateur astronomer’s home-made observatory, complete with carpet slippers and a Thermos flask. A former model-railway lover himself, he wrought revenge over the cool kids who mocked him with Tyranny of the Meek (2005), a work consisting of six snooker tables turned into a miniature landscape for a model railway, with trains riding triumphantly over the green baize landscape.

As merciful as he is with the derided sub-groups of our species, he is savage in his attacks on the pompous; those who believe themselves to be special or privileged — a certain kind of ‘operator’ art curator and cocky London artists in particular.

He once exhibited Cake Cadaver at London’s Frieze art fair, a life-sized replica of a murdered curator, and encouraged visitors to eat it; he also spent three months in Venice in 2005 as Wales’ artist in residence, and recorded the experience in a miserable diary called Basta (Italian for ‘enough’).

HD video still from The Starry Messenger, Venice Biennale 2013 Image Credit: Courtesy The Artist and Limoncello, LondonHD video still from The Starry Messenger, Venice Biennale 2013 Image Credit: Courtesy the artist and Limoncello, London

He’s not particularly fond of estate agents or braying salesmen either: his Instagram and Twitter feeds are filled with unfiltered rants against ‘twats’ shouting into their mobile phones on trains, or committing the crime of wearing pointy shoes. So is his Artes Mundi piece a vitriolic statement against architects, developers and overblown urban fantasies? It’s more complicated — and compassionate — than that. He is repelled by the sterile, grandiose cities that have sprung out of the desert in a matter of decades, such as Dubai. But it’s the unintended human consequences of urban planning that interest him. He says: ‘I went to Houston last year and they’ve got those crazy tunnels that connect the towers so that businessmen don’t get sweaty; they’re full of these Dunkin’ Donuts concessions and that sugary fat smell. And now what’s weird is you don’t see white people walking anywhere in Houston unless it’s evening and they’ve been out for a drink. They’re all in cars. So the people on the streets are all the black kids.’

From Bedwyr Williams’ show The Gulch at the Curve gallery, Barbican Centre, London. Image Credit: Max Colson © Bedwyr WilliamsFrom Bedwyr Williams’ show The Gulch at the Curve gallery, Barbican Centre, London. Image Credit: Max Colson © Bedwyr Williams

It’s not just the racially divisive aspects of urban planning he rails against, it’s the impact on our behaviours, and our environments: ‘The business of walking on the sidewalk is like a memory for many Americans. So the sidewalks are full of weeds because nobody cares any more.

‘It’s like those dockside developments you see here and abroad. There’s something really depressing about those apartments. There’s nothing there. And there never will be. Like those people living in the apartments opposite the new Tate building: they’re complaining that people are looking into their flats, but part of the value of that development is because it’s so close to the Tate. Also, they’ll be empty for most of the time.’

From Bedwyr Williams’ show The Gulch at the Curve gallery, Barbican Centre, London. Image Credit: Max ColsonFrom Bedwyr Williams’ show The Gulch at the Curve gallery, Barbican Centre, London. Image Credit: Max Colson

Here’s where he drops in his surprise confession: ‘When I was a kid I wanted to be an architect so I did work experience with a company in north Wales. That was pre-computer stuff so it was all on paper. I lost interest that week. They were just designing extensions to bungalows. There was nothing for me to do. So I did some drawings on the drawing boards. I quite liked that. They said just draw a house. So I did. Then they looked at it and said: “You need to line all the toilets up so they can share a soil pipe.” I thought… great. It didn’t seem very creative.’

From Bedwyr Williams’ show The Gulch at the Curve gallery, Barbican Centre, London.Image Credit: Ben Pruchnie / Getty imagesFrom Bedwyr Williams’ show The Gulch at the Curve gallery, Barbican Centre, London.Image Credit: Ben Pruchnie / Getty images

He has no beef with individual design professionals and enjoyed working alongside Grimshaw Architects when he was artist-in-residence at Pontio, Grimshaw’s major new arts and innovation centre at Bangor University. And he remembers with shame the debacle over Hadid’s Opera House — which won the competition not once but three times (she was asked to resubmit her scheme twice). Although there were many voices in support, amid accusations of racism and misogyny, her scheme was ultimately scuppered by a ‘set of middle-aged blokes’ as he says. ‘It’s weird for a country that is proud of having a rich culture… It sometimes has cold feet with doing things like that.’

When it comes to design in general, he says: ‘I like all that stuff but I sort of hate the idea of designers with their eye for detail: their little shoes, their simple socks and natty little trousers, the low-profile glasses. It’s such an empty-stomach feeling I get when I think about a life like that. They’ll get older and become less fastidious. It’s depressing. I also quite enjoy people in the provinces getting in on it and blowing it: like a cocksure businessman in Manchester with silly Mondrian-style spectacles.’

From Bedwyr Williams’ show The Gulch at the Curve gallery, Barbican Centre, London. Image Credit: Ben Pruchnie / Getty ImagesFrom Bedwyr Williams’ show The Gulch at the Curve gallery, Barbican Centre, London. Image Credit: Ben Pruchnie / Getty Images

Williams couldn’t be as funny as he is — or as cruel — without his razor-sharp sensitivity to the cultural signals transmitted by certain objects and specific environments. There are few artists who would, for example, be able to milk such surreal humour and observational opportunity out of global furnishing mammoth IKEA, and its parade of lifestyle scenarios.

But milk it he did, with The Gulch at London’s Barbican Centre at the end of 2016, albeit with a spectacularly surreal sequence of room-sets. Just like IKEA, The Gulch room-sets provide visitors with multiple opportunities to marvel at, to interact with and daydream. We start with a theatrical moonlit beach scene, complete with flickering campfire and swooshing wave soundtrack; but he makes sure that the dunes that flag up its entrance are really bad cartoon dunes, with fake tufts of grass on top ‘reminiscent of a receding hairline’; and he throws into the mix a singing trainer: a soft, female voice singing a Welsh folk song emanates from a discarded sports shoe glowing gently by the fake campfire. The beach scene is followed by a corridor of vitrines evoking an aquarium or museum atmosphere, each object bearing no relation whatsoever to the next. One offers up a tiny plastic model of Williams in a suit, on top of a tall, thin rock, with a multitude of miniature wooden pallets cast up around its base. Opposite, a large showcase displays a dozen black wigs pooled, at knee height, around some lumpy rocks.

From Bedwyr Williams’ show The Gulch at the Curve gallery, Barbican Centre, London. Image Credit: Ben Pruchnie / Getty ImagesFrom Bedwyr Williams’ show The Gulch at the Curve gallery, Barbican Centre, London. Image Credit: Ben Pruchnie / Getty Images

Another offers a glowing moon of a glass lamp. But the star of this museum sequence is a broken wooden spoon bearing the number 5; its stem is snapped and roughly repaired with yellowing sticky tape. This is a spoon with a story to tell, which you can hear on the adjacent headphones: it is the only surviving item from a schizophrenic restaurant built in the shape of ‘a boob’. A cheery, family and pet-friendly cafe by day, by night the restaurant transformed into a semi-satanic foodie scene of debauchery, whose customers would break these inoffensive numbered spoons, or subject them to an unpleasant form of cutlery waterboarding in the urinals.

The spoon’s traumatic history is related by Williams in a deliciously deadpan style, reminiscent of John Cale’s surreal Welsh monologue The Gift — by far the oddest track on the Velvet Underground’s classic album White Light/White Heat.

From Bedwyr Williams’ show The Gulch at the Curve gallery, Barbican Centre, London. Image Credit: Max ColsonFrom Bedwyr Williams’ show The Gulch at the Curve gallery, Barbican Centre, London. Image Credit: Max Colson

But what he was channelling, apparently, was something altogether more innocent: ‘I love it when people read text as if they’re American schoolkids reading out loud to class.’ He continues in a stilted monotone: ‘She said it would be a good idea… Oh dear he said….” It’s not common to this country. It’s very American. You’d hear it on Sesame Street.’

In an adjacent vitrine, a headless and knickerless mannequin slowly rotates, wearing a branded baseball jacket clearly created specially for this show. On its back appliquéd letters spell out The Gulch, with a goat’s head underneath, with the caption ‘Ruminate’. Its front has a metal goat badge, a beer-bottle top and an appliquéd pair of bongo drums. The jacket represents a private joke about artists as ‘bloody know-alls’. He says: ‘The thing about the varsity jacket is that they’re designed to make unremarkable men seem bigger, with the puffed up sleeves and the blouson effect… For me, living in the sticks, I find London artists unbearable: their self-belief and lack of humility.’

IKEA shelving units dangle above a running track, while there a singing sports shoe sings its song. Image Credit: Ben Pruchnie / Getty Images IKEA shelving units dangle above a running track, while there a singing sports shoe sings its song. Image Credit: Ben Pruchnie / Getty Images

There is a touching story behind the glowing moon-like lamp, however, which most visitors will never know (there are no captions to explain the museum’s contents). It is a genuine relic from the local Methodist chapel that Williams used to be taken to by his parents every Sunday. It is one of six lamps that would light up when the service started. The source of their radiance was a mystery to the young Williams, as there is no visible light bulb, so he ended up thinking they were full of ‘the holy spirit’. When he saw the lamps outside the chapel, rejected during a refurb, he snapped one up.

The surreal show leads visitors through a sequence of room-sets. Image Credit: Max ColsonThe surreal show leads visitors through a sequence of room-sets. Image Credit: Max Colson

There is also a deliciously leftfield explanation for the miniature Bedwyr on a rock. Williams says: ‘There are five Asdas in the UK that offer this service, called 3D me. You stand in a booth and a trammel spins around you and you get a 3D version of you.’ The rock is from his garden; the wooden pallets were inspired by one of his frequent trawls through eBay, where he found an amateur craftsman who fashions miniature wooden pallets and usually sells them in packs of five. ‘I was his dream commission,’ says Williams. EBay, for him, is like a fantastic ‘open-source notebook’.

The objects in this room appear to bear no relation to one another. Image Credit: Max ColsonThe objects in this room appear to bear no relation to one another. Image Credit: Max Colson

But the stories of the objects behind glass are meant to be mysterious. Says Williams: ‘I think museums have been a little bit ruined, in the late Eighties and Nineties, when they tried to make them fun. The whole thing about them was that they were unknowable and slightly over your head.’

From the museum we round the corner and find ourselves in a bongo and bean-bag-filled crash pad, with drinksdispensing machine, where visitors are invited to chill out and play some drums; then through a black curtain and into a glamorous boardroom setting, featuring a glossy oblong table and expensive swivel chairs, where you can sit and watch Williams’ film Flexure playing on a large screen. Commissioned for the 2016 Barnaby Festival in Macclesfield, it deals with a depressed hypnotist struggling to cope with a nuisance neighbour, whose surreal and sweary interjections travel down his chimney flue and interfere with his patient consultations.

To deal with this problem, the hypnotist goes on a bizarre journey of self-discovery that involves thousand-piece jigsaws, small-town shopping malls, hypermobile hippy yoga teachers and acoustic-dampening experiments, until he ends up finding tranquillity through embracing his own inner nuisance neighbour. (It’s both funnier and more disturbing than it sounds.) These elements are collaged together in a psychedelic mix of animation, photography, film and rudimentary graphics, underpinned by Williams’ mellifluous voiceover, which expertly apes the bland, pseudo-American monotones of a classic hypnotherapy CD.

The boardroom segues into a spooky, green-lit gully with projecting rock ledges, on which a hairy, stuffed goat stands, balefully glaring out over the audience; nearby, a single microphone stand is spotlit against a glittery silver curtain. Only the intrepid will discover that, when you speak or sing into the mike, the sound of your voice emanates from the goat’s mouth. Finally, through the swishy curtain, you are greeted by a large, red running track, its lanes marked out with white tape, over which hover half a dozen IKEA shelving units, suspended from the ceiling, inhabited by gurning gold ‘lucky cats’. Oh, and let’s not forget there’s another singing sports shoe lying on its side in the faux grass — this time, a man’s large trainer, with a man’s voice softly crooning the tenor part of the same Welsh folk song.

When it comes to inspiration, it’s no surprise that Williams’ list features pioneers of the slapstick, the edgy, the poetic and the surreal. He counts them off: ‘JG Ballard, Frank Zappa, The Fall, Will Self, Spike Milligan, Max Wall, Peter Cook, Chris Morris, Lemmy, Stewart Lee.’ He adds: ‘I’m not sure if these are inspirations or things I like.’ He’s also a huge fan of Vic Reeves’ early TV work. ‘Do you remember Vic Reeves Big Night Out? His first TV show, that was the best, in terms of no compromise. He was like a very weird comedian. He hadn’t yet started working with celebrities. He was just shouting crazy stuff on the stage. He had a door in the backdrop that said Big Night Out. And then there was a flap within that. And people used to come out of it. I always loved that. If we didn’t have to deal with wheelchair access, we’d have had a flappy door [in The Gulch].’

There are several running gags permeating The Gulch (the running shoes and the track among them). Williams and Barbican curator Lotte Johnson worked hard to weave various sound elements in and out of the timeline, layering them so they percolate through the experience from start to finish.

Using both the acoustic properties of this strange, cave-like space, as well as electronic aides, the singing trainer and bongos gently intrude into the Flexure film show. Any performance into the mike triggers a response from the goat behind you. And recordings of the most recent bongo performance are also relayed to the boom box that hangs over the exit. Says Johnson: ‘You’re kind of speaking to your future self through the exhibition.’

Nuisance neighbours as a theme permeated the whole experience of the show’s set up. Williams and Johnson had to restrict the construction team’s drilling and building times, as the Curve gallery runs behind the orchestral auditorium that is often used for rehearsals for the Barbican’s resident orchestra [London Symphony Orchestra], which in turn would intrude on some of the quieter set-up moments. Says Williams: ‘We’d hear these orchestral stabs when we were installing. We were experiencing this space in a way that’s quite unfamiliar to most people. I found that quite moving.’ Johnson added: ‘Especially when we were installing the singing shoes, it was like they were in some kind of harmony.’

Branded baseball jackets represent a private joke about artists as ‘bloody-know-alls’. Image Credit: Max ColsonBranded baseball jackets represent a private joke about artists as ‘bloody-know-alls’. Image Credit: Max Colson

Even the song that emanates from the running shoes is a joke of sorts — though it operates on two levels. It is a Welsh song, whose title Williams translates as ‘While There are Two’. He says: ‘That’s a joke about shoes too, obviously. But it’s a song that… considers all the things that you would value in life, and says all of these things are nothing compared to just the fact of being one of two… lt’s quite a beautiful song.’

Only Williams could suddenly turn two separated trainers into something poignant. The two folk singers recorded are known to Williams, and will be performing in the Curve gallery while the show is on. There are many such interactive, audience engagement opportunities lined up, including a yoga class featuring the very same hippy yoga teacher who appears in the film, and a Welsh school disco (it was a deliciously awkward affair, apparently, with the arty Londoners attending it too embarrassed to dance — so, in that way, just like a real school disco).

Williams loves what he calls the ‘pregnant punchline’ — for example, he tells an anecdote about a toll that used to operate at the sea wall [cob] that runs to Porthmadog. ‘It used to be a 20p charge to cross and you would just throw it in the guy’s bucket and drive over. There was this well-known character who went over the cob once and threw in 40p and said: “It’s for me and the guy behind.” He didn’t know who the guy behind was. It was just a generous gesture. I love the idea of the guy who came after, who was told: “There’s no charge, he has paid for you.” He’d be thinking: “What? Who the hell? And why?” I love that kind of humour… like a friend of mine who had hired a van once, and was in a traffic jam. He was hitting the steering boss in the centre and it came off in his hands.

And there was a note underneath saying: “Put it back”. It’s such a great joke. It’s like a message in a bottle.’ Perhaps his best gag in the whole show is the joke he plays on his critics. ‘I thought about people that wouldn’t like my show… they might think this work is so obvious and on a plate, there’s no subtlety, it’s not explained. Then they get pushed through a glitter curtain and they’re on a running track…’ Subverting expectations is Williams’ forte, whether he’s exposing the grubby, messy, human lives that underpin even the most glossy of fantasy cities or parodying the way music lovers fall over themselves to ‘discover’ previously unfashionable genres and regions (he once ran a mobile club in the back of a caravan, calling it the Baenau Vista Social Club). He also once gave a lecture dressed as a waiter, while getting drunkon the vodka shots on his tray, in front of his audience. In these digitally enhanced times of our social-media-manipulated lives, it’s good to have somebody who tells it like it is, busts our pretensions and aspirations, with humour, wit, empathy and occasional cruelty. As cities become more skyscraper infested, less humane and less equal, the worlds of architecture and urban design are ripe for this kind of interrogation.

And the Artes Mundi Prize is quite a platform for protest. The £40,000 biennial prize is the biggest art award in the UK, given to those whose work is thought to most powerfully reflect the leading issues of the day. Chicago’s Theaster Gates won it in 2015, and in so doing drew the world’s spotlight to the inequalities of urban regeneration, as well as the role that communities can take with some inspired DIY. Shortlisted in 2015, Williams gleefully recalls how Gates used the ‘f’ word in front of Wales’ first minister, on the awards night. He declared that he’d share the prize money with the words: ‘Let’s split the motherfucker!’

Is there anything Williams is championing, in particular, with his Artes Mundi artwork? ‘I think what I’m championing is the traditional way that cities develop. Lean-tos in Paris or little bits of Tudor buildings that are hanging out over the street, and those Italian villages, with that almost coral, organic evolution. It’s beautiful isn’t it? There’s something to be said for bad taste as well. I saw this great programme on Romany gypsies and the new palaces they seem to build. There’s no rein on their imaginations. It’s insane. They will build like the Addams Family house for themselves but in sugar-candy pink, and they will have Ferraris outside but also horses. There has to be room for people to make mistakes. This lifestyle stuff is very prescriptive. You have to have twisted bits of reed in a long glass in the corner of your room, and kids with retro Seventies’ American haircuts with wooden toys they don’t want.’

Bedwyr Williams’ Circle of Friends (2012). Image Credit: Courtesy the artist and Limoncello, LondonBedwyr Williams’ Circle of Friends (2012). Image Credit: Courtesy the artist and Limoncello, London

What is it that bad taste is tapping into that he thinks we should celebrate rather than denigrate? ‘It’s just individuality. That old chestnut. In those old JG Ballard books, the really depressing bits are when he’s talking about these uniform, homogenised cityscapes.’ I point out that the Barbican, for which we had both declared great admiration during the course of our conversations, was once a controversial building.

He says: ‘The thing about the Barbican is it has evolved. They got rid of some of the gantries and filled some things in. And people are totally invested there. I think what the Barbican proves is that it’s a long-term thing.’ And here the reflective mood turns sour: ‘People who don’t like something about a building when it’s first built and want something done about it straight away: those people just have to fuck off. The world’s been here a long time. Just wait. Stop being cross about things all the time.’

Audio clips from Bedwyr Williams’ film Fantasy City...

1 ‘“I will build a city here, where we stand,” a man standing at the edge of the lake had proclaimed some decades earlier, nodding silently to himself. The engineers and architects in high-visibility jackets standing around him winced at the time because they felt uncomfortable to hear him say such a thing. These weren’t modest men themselves and they didn’t doubt at all that he was a man that got things done. But how pompous to talk like that, they all thought, like a Roman general or someone convinced that they would be seen as a pioneer in the future.’

2 ‘The shyest of the architects, a man too shy even to sing in his own car, considered as he drove home that evening: What if all those remembered as great people through history had actually been as embarrassing as this grandiloquent individual?’

3 ‘Some 18 months after saying “I shall build a city here” (the developer) was killed by a sudden jet of wet concrete bursting out of badly constructed plywood shuttering at the base of what was going to be a spa and wellness centre.’

4 ‘As soon as the first piles were driven and the concrete was poured things started being thrown or flicked into the lake: cigarette butts, cigarette boxes, stones from the mountains, a peach stone from a builder’s packed lunch, they all sank to the bottom. Bits of building materials, wood and chips of stone also fell in; a checked shirt with Clive written on the label; bits of mustard-coloured insulation floated in ever-decreasing chunks on the lake for almost 10 years before finally crumbling.’

5 ‘ “I love it when architects are allowed to play,” someone says in a very good fish restaurant. “Not me,” replies the poet. “I’m scared of architects. I think they have just the right quota of power as it is. I think they secretly want to take control even when they say they are playing. If they had their way they would use the rest of us as if we were rods of hazel and weave us like wattle and daub us with our own daub. Or stack us up or daisy chain us in big helpless moaning garlands.” ’

6 ‘A promising high-school student who is writing poetry under a solar panel in a field describes the buildings in the city like teeth growing out of the hillside. “I see what you’re getting at,” the tutor says, as across town his brother’s business startup shuts down.’





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