Olivia Laing on Peter Doig’s "Echo Lake" 1998
Tate ETC.
Olivia Laing
Summer 2016

It's the drowned star I'm interested in. Let's swim out to the drowned star. Saratoga Springs, July shifting into moody August. Each morning we wake to the sound of the races, the announcer chanting on a distant tannoy, the roaring surf of the crowd, hooves drumming on softened ground. Driving to the liquor store we pass the heaving gleaming glossy colts. There are five lakes on the property, each one a mirror for bending trees, green on green, the surface pocked by skimming swallows. I take my bike and cycle through the glowing woods, a gold Dodge Packard abandoned by the track, its doors thrown open, its tyres sinking into leaf mould. At night the stars come down into the pool and we climb the fence and swim together, stripping on the deck, the whiff of chlorine, cicadas drumming in the pines, the flitting summer bats. New York was what, 200 miles away; we might have been living in the 20th century, gathering in the hall to drink vermouth in highball glasses full of ice. One day we took our bikes, all of us, and plunged hell for leather down the lawn, brakes locked, wheels bouncing on the turf. I bet all my money on a horse called Lake Placid, called Summer Colony, called Tale of the Cat. It's the pool I want to tell you about: the way the water felt. When I dived I split the stars, when I dived I made the night sky run with milk.