Dance of ideas for a woman with a blue guitar

Is this BLOG an experiment? I doubt it. It’s not a reasonable, predictable space. Words can be heavy. Stones, they were called. How to love them?

A place of pleasure, that’s my goal. Encounters and exchanges about art and life. A selected group of people will come and play the thinking game. They will send their thoughts by e-mail. We might be read by the global village. Let’s give them pleasure! Let’s learn to be light. Fleeting and temporary, at least for one year. Personal, fearless, bringing out uncertainties, pauses and hesitations, conflicts and doubts. Most of the artworks reveal idiosyncratic states of mind that are not allowed to writers: no smoking in the toilette during the flight! Unless they are poets.

I was an Eighteenth-century philosophy scholar who turned into a journalist and a maker of hand-sewn books. So my hands give the books a body as the secluded princesses of the old tales, making their lovers’ body with flour and water. None of them have a beating heart. Lack of love makes me sick. Lack of confidence, same effect. Plaintive commentaries about climate and institutional collapse are a black mask on my eyes. Reality is painted black. But The Arts keep me alive. Meredith Monk sings without words, only voice and feelings. I wish we could write like she sings.

No yes, no, I like, dislike, no evaluations. Intelligent kindness. No aggression nor rivalry. Reading, writing, “an exchange of desire becomes possible, of an enjoyment that was not foreseen. Games are not done, let’s play.” (Roland Barthes) Wind and earthquakes shake our landscape. Los Angeles is luminous in the middle of April. We can wear the on-line dress, all the possible colors and shapes, because ideas have colors, if someone cares. The kite needs hands holding the thread as well as the winds and the sky; it needs tension, inside and outside.

“I play them on a blue guitar / And then things are not as they are. / The shape of the instrument  / Distorts the shape of what I meant, / Which takes shape by accident. / Yet what I mean I always say. / The accident is how I play./  I still intend things as they are. / The greenish quaverings of day /  Quiver upon the blue guitar. (Wallace Stevens)

EILEEN COWIN: MAD LOVE n. 3

Text by Rosanna Albertini

 

EILEEN COWIN, From the series Mad Love, Courtesy of the artist

EILEEN COWIN, Untitled from the Mad Love series,  2014    5.5″ x 8.2″                  
Courtesy of the artist

I lost my mother!
The young man sits at my left side on the bus, dirty nails ―in Italy we say che porta il lutto al gatto, that he is mourning the cat. At least mentally, he could cling to the window but he doesn’t. Medium long, greasy hair covers half of his face. His head and face are nothing noticeable except for the voice, a harsh sound like a badly played violin cord. The traffic from Westwood to Wilshire Boulevard makes the bus an island on wheels shaken between dry waves. The exhaust stinks whatever the brand. I can barely think, the inside air is cooled down and stays dirty, perspiration mixed with fragrances sent off from shoes, Mexican cooked beans’ flavor hidden in plastic bags and the stale breath of sleepers.
The young man decided for me that I shouldn’t get lost in my own thoughts, the brain lulled by dreams of clean air. And the story began as if he were the girl and I the pasha, in the thousand and one days of Los Angeles. Once upon a time there was a boy from the midwest. He now works at the Trader Joe’s.

Why did you come to Los Angeles?
My boy friend lives here.
And your mother?
She just died.

It was like to lie across a bare road erased from the map. Right, mother left us here to float in finitudes. Why my brain insists on thinking? Drawing parallels and circles? Adam and Eve lost the Paradise, so we keep falling, far from happiness and perfection. The young man didn’t look distressed. His hands, though, were agitated in a continuous finger torture, his nails could break.

She died and was cremated and I brought the ashes to Los Angeles.
Yes?
And I went to a restroom. It was this morning. And somebody robbed my backpack, I had put it on the sink. I tried to grab it back, I was not strong enough. Mother was in the back pack. I lost her.

Feelings brushed against me like branches of biancospino, a prickly spring bush so full of white, tender flowers that thorns disappear covered by petals. Good to look at, without touching. I couldn’t avoid sympathy for my traveling companion. Keeping visible my  understanding, payed attention not to mingle with the personal spines surrounding his hands like a crown. Besides, my own spines started to fill my talking throat: whatever one says, go to the beach, take it easy, sounds so hypocritical, a screeching noise.

       If it wasn’t for the ashes transported in it, the backpack would have disappeared from his memory like the semi-transparent and light bags we bring home from the market filled with salad and carrots. Empty, they would fly far away, toward the faded circle of the moon still visible in the morning, a white ghost on the blue of the sky. They would be like moon lovers lost in her distance. The young man’s love for his mother, maybe, was no different. Dead, converted into ashes, she is so close to him he doesn’t know what to do with her. To know her wasn’t the point when she was standing on earth, for love had nothing to do with knowing and that was normal. But when it comes to death, he cannot get rid of something that looks like awareness, and it is not. It’s only the violent storm of all things never known about mother, an enormous empty ghost of memories that had been missed, or maybe, never existed.

Sitting next to him, I was daydreaming a chain of absurdities:  breakfast with ashes on the table, bus with ashes on the shoulders, ashes at Trader Joes underneath the check out counter, than home again. Mother’s ghost glued to his back. I was not really surprised, since I carried my mother inside my body for months, after she passed away. Almost an unspeakable feeling. The lost backpack made me smile.

Vladimir Nabokov:
“Hullo, person! Doesn’t hear me.
Perhaps if the future existed, concretely and individually, as something that could be discerned buy a better brain, the past would not be so seductive: its demands would be balanced by those of the future. […]
But the future has no such reality (as the pictured past and the perceived present possess); the future is but a figure of speech, a specter of thought.
Hullo person! What’s the matter, don’t pull me. I’m not bothering him. Oh, all right. Hullo, person . . . (last time, in a very small voice.)
When we concentrate on a material object, whatever its situation, the very act of attention may lead to our involuntarily sinking into the history of that object. Novices must learn to skim over matter if they want matter to stay at the exact level of the moment. Transparent things, through which the past shines!”*

 

EILEEN COWIN, From the series Mad Love, Courtesy of the artist

EILEEN COWIN, Untitled from the  Mad Love series, 2014   5.5″ x 8.2″
Courtesy of the artist

*VLADIMIR NABOKOV, Transparent Things, @ 1972, New York, Vintage Books, First Vintage International Edition, 1989

ROMA and FONO ROMA 2 – early 1950s again

by ALBERTO ALBERTINI, Milano 2016

The Lollobrigida case, how dubbing in Italy changed forever, and how Alberto reacted to a not very exciting job with inventive resources, becoming an inventor within the film industry.

ALBERTO ALBERTINI, Coordinare - Coordinating

Alberto Albertini, COORDINARE – COORDINATING

Dubbing was introduced by the American film industry wanting to sell  movies abroad. The FONO ROMA had a fortuitous birth: an American producer meeting a former singer, I believe Mister Persichetti, to open dubbing studios in Italy.

Dubbing consists of repeating in Italian the foreign actors’ voice and combining the new voice with the other film sounds and music. Italian movies did not need dubbing because actors were recorded live during filming.

But, lack of money after the war and the use of non-professional actors led to the practice of dubbing the Italian movies as well, either because the live recording was expensive or because the actors were not able to speak a correct Italian. Later live recording was imposed by law, in order to protect the workers in the audio department, but the employment of non-professional actors continued. Hence the practice of audio recording to be used only as a guide for the dubbers in the final editing. Sound recording, when it is GOOD, brings additional costs not only for people and tools, but also for control of surrounding conditions such as silence in the room. Also the audio recording had to be good. Now direct recording is easier, having cheaper, and technologically more advanced devices.

O R G A N I Z Z A R E – O R G A N I Z I N G

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What I’m saying is that, before I became a mixer, I happened to record dubbing sessions for both, Italian and foreign movies.

Allora?  Three fundamental episodes came out of all that:

The job was boring. Between the testing of a loop and the recording I often fell asleep, especially during the summer at two in the afternoon. There was a day in which somebody from the recording room (I was in the mixing booth) asked me: is it OK? Yes. OK or not? You don’t sound very convinced. I got it, the answer was important. Since then I always answered Yes!!! an experience that became precious later on.

Some of the actresses refused to be dubbed and required us to let them dub themselves: The Gina Lollobrigida case. Beyond the poor quality of her acting, she had an awful voice ending in a dead sound at the end of each word. I used to raise all the final syllables to make her words comprehensible. The point is that Guglielmo Morandi, the dubbing director, wanted to extract blood from a turnip and she, at a certain moment, wasn’t able to give what the director wanted. We were stuck. From the mixing booth using the intercom I said: let’s stop for a little while, so she can rest and then we restart… Furious, Morandi shouted at me: how did I dare to interfere with the director etcetera, etcetera. The fight was long enough to allow her a rest as I had suggested and the dubbing continued. The poor girl never knew what a favor I did for her!

(She is alive, same age as I. Although I did not appreciate her as an actress, I can say she was very pretty.) Talking of which, director Luigi Zampa, while we were dubbing La Romana, told me that la Lollo was incredibly greedy: she used to remake herself the soles of her shoes to save money! That I could appreciate)

Most dubbing was operated by the CDC movie dubbers cooperative: dubbers of various origins: opera singers, former actors or deceived actors who had not had a big success or simply found this work profitable and safe. The CDC dubbers, differently from other small cooperatives of the time, had a large range of voices. It was easy to distinguish one actor from the other. Their acting though was just standard, and quite often affected by an unbearable birignao (sing song voice). It happened that the producers of of some dubbing companies (Commander De Leonardis,* as many others coming from the Navy) decided to stop the routine and gave precise instructions to the dubbing director (Giulio Panicali, who was also a dubber). Putting on the first reel of “Ne touches pas aux grisby,” Panicali spent a whole hour in the studio explaining the new requirements, and asking them to rehearse the roles, bringing the acting back to the essence of what the context implied. It means that actors did speak as if the scene were humanly true. Dubbing, since then, changed forever.

*The main helper and director of photography of De Leonardis was Mario Bernardo, former chief partisan in Friuli.

 

I N V E N T A R E – I N V E N T I N G

015 – moviola – editing table –

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A dubbing editor had asked me to build it. It allowed him to vary the film speed according to the dialogue translator’s advice. The significant innovation was a solid state amplifier (transistor) in which the cell sensitive to light, able to read the sound track, was a transistor without varnish. That is to say the semiconductors are light sensitive and I had eliminated the varnish to change them into photodiodes. The results was a sound never heard before in the editing tables.

016 – registratore – recorder –

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Prototype to demonstrate a new style of mechanical design. One can see the difference of style in the recorder that follows.

018  018bis – Registrazione copie – reproducing recorder –

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Stereophonic cinemascope did not have an optical sound track that could be printed along with images. It had instead four magnetic sound columns; we had to align the magnetic tracks for each copy and record them. Recording was done at FONO ROMA two copies as a time as one can see in the picture. The small screen was useful to verify the synch between sound and images because sometimes the negative image was cut, but not the magnetic sound master.

019 – Containers

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Containers for cinemascope films.

020 021 022 – Surround Sound Patent –

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Working on the reproducing recorder, the one presented above, gave me the sparkle of an idea. While I was seeing the image on the small screen, I was listening to the sounds from speakers hung on the walls. I thought it could be very exciting if also in a movie theater one could listen to a shot, for instance, coming from off screen. Cinemascope had already made a provision for sounds in the theater, but diffused ambient sounds. I had in mind dialogue, shots, specific noises of events out of the visual field. I thought of utilizing half of the optical sound track (the only space that remained on the film itself) to move an off screen sound to the left or the right, or even to use in parallel all the speakers on the left , separately from those on the right, to obtain a bigger sound intensity.
Image 020 shows a cinemascope film with marks for space for the command track (50% column in the photo); 021 shows the relationships between tracks and speakers behind the screen.

023 – It’s a candy, a fragment of TODD AO film. Which is a scene of Oklahoma on 70 mm. film and six sound tracks. Because Mike Todd, one of Elizabeth Taylor’s husbands, died in an airplane accident, everything died there.

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PER FRANCESCO E DIEGO

Il doppiaggio nacque dall’esigenza dell’industria americana di vendere all’astero la produzione cinematografica diventata sonora. La FONO ROMA nacque fortunosamente dall’incontro della produzione americana con un ex cantante (mi pare) tale Persichetti.La produzione cercava la combinazione per aprire gli studi di doppiaggio in Italia.

Il doppiaggio consiste nel ripetere in italiano la recitazione degli attori stranieri e sovrapporre la nuova recitazione agli altri suoni del film, musica, rumori. Per i film italiani non serviva doppiaggio perché gli attori recitavano in italiano ed erano ripresi audio e video direttamente: in presa diretta.

Le carenze di mezzi a causa della guerra e l’uso di attori non professionisti determinarono la consuetudine di doppiare anche i film italiani, sia perché non c’erano soldi per la presa diretta, sia perché gli attori non sapevano recitare o parlare correttamente. Successivamente la legge impose la presa diretta per tutelare il lavoro del settore audio ma, il procrastinarsi dell’uso di attori non esattamente professionisti suggeri di registrare l’audio da utilizzare semplicemente come guida nella lavorazione di editing finale, cioè come guida per i doppiatori. La presa diretta del suono, BUONA, comporta costi additivi, non solo di persone e mezzi ma anche accorgimenti collaterali, il silenzio in teatro o i disturbi in esterni e una maggiore cura nella ripresa perché essa doveva essere buona anche come audio. Ora siamo tornati alla presa diretta buona anche perché i mezzi di registrazione sono più economici e tecnologicamente avanzati.

Tutto questo per dire che, prima di passare al mixaggio, io mi trovavo a registrare sia i doppiaggi di film stranieri che italiani.
Allora? Allora ne escono tre episodi pilastro:

1       Il lavoro era noioso e tra la prova di un anello e la registrazione spesso dormivo, specialmente d’estate alle 14. Successe che una volta, di là, in sala (ero in regia) mi chiesero: va bene? si. Va bene o no? Mi sembra in si poco convinto! No no, va bene. Capii l’importanza della risposta, Risposi sempre: SI!!! Esperienza di cui feci tesori anche in seguito.
2       Qualche attrice non intendeva essere doppiata e imponeva di doppiarsi da se medesima. Il caso Lollobrigida. Oltre a non saper recitare aveva ( ha ) una pessima voce sfiatata con le finali morte. Io alzavo tutte le finali altrimenti non si sarebbe capito niente. Il punto è che il direttore di doppiaggio, tale Guglielmo Morandi, voleva estrarre il sangue dalla rapa e a un certo punto lei non riusciva a dare quello che il regista voleva e la cosa si stava arenando. Io dalla regia (con l’interfonico) dissi: facciamo una piccola pausa, così si riposa e poi riprendiamo… il Morandi furibondo inveì contro di me: come mi permetto di interferire col direttore ecc, ecc. La lite durò abbastanza per consentire il riposo che avevo suggerito e il doppiaggio proseguì! La tapina non saprà mai il lavoro che le ho fatto! (è viva a ha la mia età e per quanto l’avessi disprezzata come attrice, posso dire che era molto carina). Ah, Luigi Zampa (regista) durante il doppiaggio de “La romana” mi disse che la Lollo era una tirchia terribile: si risuolava le scarpe da sola per risparmiare! (Però, che brava!)

3      La maggior parte del doppiaggio era cosa della CDC cooperativa doppiatori cinematografici, doppiatori di varia origine, cantanti d’opera, ex attori o attori che non avevano sfondato o semplicemente che trovavano questo lavoro redditizio e sicuro. A differenza di altre piccole cooperative di allora, i doppiatori CDC avevano voci assai differenziate che consentivano di identificare gli attori con facilità, per contro avevano una recitazione standard e in diversi casi con insopportabile birignao. Accadde che un gestore della produzione di alcune case ( il comandante De Leonardis,* provenivano tutti dalla marina) decise di dare un taglio alla routine e diede precise istruzione al direttore del doppiaggio (certo Giulio Panicali che era anche doppiatore). Il Panicali, una volta in studio fece girare il primo anello del film “ne touchez pas aux grisby” per un’ora, spiegando e facendo provare le parti in modo da ricondurre la recitazione alla pura essenza del significato necessario al contesto. Cioè gli attori parlavano come se la scena fosse umanamente vera. Da allora il doppiaggio non fu più lo stesso.

*L’aiutante e e direttore della fotografia delle produzioni di De Leonardis era Mario Bernardo, ex capo partigiano in Friuli.

INVENZIONI

015 moviola. La moviola mi era stata commissionata da un editore di doppiaggi e consentiva di variare la velocità di scorrimento del film a giudizio del traduttore dei dialoghi. La grossa innovazione era un amplificatore allo stato solido (transistor) in cui anche la cellula sensibile alla luce per la lettura della colonna sonora era un transistor sverniciato. I semiconduttori sono sensibili alla luce e io avevo tolto la vernice per farlo diventare un fotodiodo, il suono era come mai sentito nelle moviole.

016 registratore. Prototipo per dimostrare nuovo stile nel design meccanico. Se lo confronti con le macchine in 018 ingrandimento, puoi notare la differenza di stile.

018 registrazione copie. Il cinemascope stereofonico non usava la colonna sonora ottica, stampabile insieme all’immagine, ma quattro colonne sonore magnetiche. Quindi su ogni copia bisognava stendere le piste magnetiche e registrarle. La registrazione era fatta in FONO ROMA a due copie per volta come risulta dalla foto. Il piccolo schermo tipo moviola, serviva per verificare che il suono fosse sempre in sincrono con l’immagine perché qualche volta tagliavano il negativo immagine ma non il master magnetico del suono.

019 contenitori pellicole cinemascope.

020 021 022. brevetto surround. Il lavoro che facevo sulle macchine 018 mi fece scattare la scintilla. Io vedevo l’immagine sul piccolo schermo ma udivo il suono su altoparlanti che stavano alle pareti: idea, se anche al cinema si potesse udire, per esempio uno sparo, fuori dallo schermo, sarebbe molto emozionante. Già il cinemascope prevedeva suoni in sala ma suoni di ambiente diffusi, io pensavo a dialoghi, spari, rumori precisi di eventi fuori campo. L’idea era di utilizzare metà della colonna sonora ottica (unico spazio rimasto sulla pellicola) per comandare la commutazione di un suono fuori campo a sinistra o a destra o addirittura mettere in parallelo tutti gli altoparlanti di sinistra e separatamente quelli di destra per ottenere una potenza di suono maggiore. La 020 mostra una pellicola cinemascope con le indicazioni anche dello spazio per la traccia di comando ( 50% colonna fot. ).la 021 relazione tra le piste e gli altoparlanti dietro lo schermo.

023 è una chicca, un pezzo di pellicola TODD AO. Ovvero una scena di Oklahoma su film di 70mm e sei piste sonore. Il Todd, uno dei mariti della Taylor, morì in un incidente aereo e la cosa fini lì.

ROMA and FONO ROMA – Early 1950s

By ALBERTO ALBERTINI – from MILANO (ITALY) 2016

Photographs by Alberto Albertini

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In the Rome of 1952 there was no trace of the recently ended war, as if the war had never existed. Quirky, sly, indolent, chattering, Roma lived her lives. Shopkeepers, small artisans, the caste of public employees and filmmakers often in symbiosis with intellectuals, writers, painters, or simply people meeting in Piazza del Popolo or in Via Veneto to work out projects that sometimes took a real form. A fascist city? Sure, but also a socialist and communist city, especially in show business. And antisemitic. Although the ghetto was part of Rome, Roman people used to mention the “Jews” as foreigners, as a separate, alien group. The Vatican state had been recently separated from Rome. Maybe the Vatican had lost Rome, but won the whole of Italy.

Activities were swarming, each in its own rhythm. Yet they had in common the tendency to deny the watch as the king of time. There was always time to extend a discussion, if possible while eating, sitting at the table. Enjoying modest, daily pleasures, wishing a mediocre and safe position, organizing small trades to add money to the salary, we had (we have?) the impression to survive. Glorious emperors, popes, barbarians had passed, leaving some traces. But the Roman population was still there, indifferent to so much history that hadn’t brought anything better than a plate of sheep cheese and fave beans and a glass of wine from the hills around the city.

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NOW THAT REALLY I AM OLD, TO EVOQUE THE PAST HAS A TASTE OF ‘LAST METRO’

Once the CineServiceFilm experience dropped out of my life, desperate I left Milan for Rome, looking for jobs. Luckily I had a letter introducing me to Fono Roma. The friends I had helped on their way to Switzerland had connections within the Fono Roma, which was the major Italian studio for dubbing films. The company belonged to Salvatore Persichetti, married into the Petacci family. Despite his links to fascism, during the war mister Persichetti had given hospitality to Jewish people with no hesitation. A typically Italian story. There was, in that moment, a vacant job I was accepted to do: to record the dubbing: I became a “recordista.”

The impact was traumatic: although the studios had five rooms, the recording machines were placed in only one room, and the recordings were simultaneously monitored through different speakers, inducing a remarkable stress that I learned to endure over time. We worked 12-16 hours a day, waiting for overtime during the night and on Sunday. Without overtime work we wouldn’t have survived. The environment nevertheless was pleasant. When we finished early we used to meet on a small balcony and chat.

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Maria Pia Dimeo, who became a quite famous dubber on the small balcony

Under the Roman sun life was restrained, somehow soft and slow: destiny looking like what one deserved, pointless to protest. To chat with colleagues and actors on the small balcony at Fono Roma was likely the right reward. And dreams of improbable success looked simply like dreams, smoothed by the sun. Actors, directors, screen writers, editors passed by, emerged, went down, spreading their lives between Fono Roma, Il bolognese (a restaurant in Piazza del Popolo) and De Paolis studios. They were a fauna intruding into the city and the city had become accustomed to them: public employees, artisans, small shops, stalls of cucumbers in the middle of the night at the end of work; empty squares and our tired eyes, derelict, under the Roman nights.

I felt wasted, I could do better! Negligent in my work, I was rude writing my reports to the point that I realized I could be forced to withdraw, and it was a risk I couldn’t afford. During such critical time the smart intuition came to me that I could do what the honest workers were already doing: to work seriously in an accurate way, whatever the job, one must do it well. From there I started to go back up again. From recordista I became sound mixer, the person who is responsible for recording voices, still being, of course, a pain in the neck. In the meantime, I had become the sound mixer of trust for Roberto Rossellini’s editor, Jolanda Benvenuti.

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I had proposed to change the way recorders were used in the studios (Ampex audio-recorders, a new technology at the time) in order to avoid the motors stopping , overheated from being on constantly. The motor could be turned on only at the recording moment. The chief technician refused the idea, but the son of the owner, a freshly graduated engeneer, approved it.
I had also found a solution for creatinge stereophonic effects of the waters falling from one to another level in the Vietnamese paddy fields for Lost Continent, the documentary film by Mario Craveri and Folco Quilici, 1955. It was the very first cinemascope movie in Italy, bringing up many expectations. Some of the scenes showed the Thailand paddy fields, an endless panorama of small terraces, with water flowing down from terrace to terrace, soaking the rice. The purpose was to place the sound of the streams in a movable space. The super technical chief’s solution was to send the same signal to the three speakers behind the screen: the left, the central, the right. The result was deceiving, for the sound seemed to come only from the center. My proposal instead was to read the same sound on three different machines, so that it could arrive at the three speakers at different times. Astonishing result: a sound scene appeared in a space in which one could perceive thousands of gurgling streams, from the left and the right side.
I was clearly a pain in the neck, so they sent me home, which became my good fortune. Back to Milan to direct the new Fono Roma branch.

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PER FRANCESCO E DIEGO

ROMA e FONO ROMA primi anni ’50

Nel 1952 a Roma non c’era traccia della guerra appena finita, anzi non sembrava che ci fosse stata. Bislacca, sorniona, indolente e ciarliera, Roma viveva le sue vite. Bottegai, piccoli artigiani, la casta degli statali e i cinematografari la cui elite viveva in simbiosi con gli intellettuali, scrittori, pittori o comunque gente che si ritrovava in piazza del Popolo o in via Veneto per elaborare i progetti che spesso hanno visto davvero la luce.
Città fascista Roma? Certamente, anche, ma anche socialista e comunista, specie nello spettacolo. Antisemita. A Roma c’era ancora il ghetto ma lo straordinario era che i romani parlavano dei “giudei” come degli estranei, una casta a sé, tollerata si, ma altri. In fondo lo stato pontificio era caduto da poco e a questo riferimento che si poteva attribuire questo atteggiamento, non alle leggi razziali. ( in altra occasione dicevo che il Vaticano aveva perso Roma ma preso l’Italia ).

Brulichio di attività, ciascuna con un ritmo diverso ma tutte inclini a negare che il tempo fosse sotto il controllo dell’orologio e che quindi c’era sempre il tempo per estendere una discussione, possibilmente a tavola. Il godere la vita nei piaceri modesti, quotidiani, l’aspirare ad una posizione mediocre ma sicura, l’instaurare piccoli traffici per arrotondare, davano, (danno?) l’impressione di sopravvivenza: erano passati i gloriosi imperatori, i papi, i barbari, ciascuno aveva lasciato le proprie tracce ma il popolo romano era ancora lì, indifferente a tanta storia che non gli aveva portato niente più di un piatto di fave col pecorino e un bicchiere di vino dei castelli

ORA CHE SONO VERAMENTE IN LA COGLI ANNI, RIEVOCARE HA UN SAPORE DI ULTIMO METRO

Conclusa l’esperienza CineServiceFilm, disperato sono partito per Roma in cerca di lavoro. Fortunatamente avevo una lettera di presentazione alla Fono Roma. Gli amici che avevo guidato in Svizzera avevano amici dentro la Fono Roma. La FonoRoma era di Salvatore Persichetti strettamente imparentato con i Petacci. Nonostante i legami col fascismo,il Persichetti non aveva esitato a ospitare ebrei durante la guerra. Una storia tipicamente italiana. In quel momento c’era un posto vacante che ho potuto ottenere: addetto alle macchine di registrazione dei doppiaggi, ovvero recordista.

Un impatto traumatico, la Fono Roma era il principale studio di doppiaggio italiano con cinque studi. La macchine di registrazione erano però in un unico locale e le registrazioni erano monitorate da altoparlanti diversi contemporaneamente con un notevole stress che poi ho imparato a sopportare. Si lavorava 12-16 ore al giorno e si attendeva il pieno del lavoro per lavorare anche la notte e la domenica, perché tutto era basato sul lavoro straordinario, senza straordinari non si campava! C’era però l’ambiente, quando si finiva in anticipo ci si trovava sul balconcino a chiacchierare.

Sotto il sole di Roma la vita è diversa, temperata, impigrita, così che il destino ti appare quello che ti spettava e non alzi troppe proteste. Chiacchierare con i colleghi, con gli attori sul balconcino della Fono Roma poteva essere il giusto compenso. Sogni di improbabili successi nel lavoro o extra lavoro, soltanto sogni, temperati dal sole. Attori, registi, sceneggiatori, montatori passavano, emergevano, scendevano, vivevano tra la Fono Roma, Il bolognese (ristorante in Piazza del Popolo) cinecittà e gli studi De Paolis. Era una fauna intrusa nella città alla quale la città aveva fatto l’abitudine: statali, artigiani, negozietti, bancarelle di cocomeri in piena notte a fine lavoro, le piazze deserte e noi derelitti con gli occhi stanchi, sotto le notti di Roma.

Mi sentivo sprecato, valevo molto di più! Conducevo il lavoro con negligenza, scrivevo i bollettini in modo scortese finché non mi resi conto che rischiavo di retrocedere, un rischio che non potevo permettermi. In questa crisi ebbi la geniale intuizione di fare quello che già facevano gli onesti lavoratori: lavorare seriamente con scrupolo, ovvero qualsiasi lavoro si faccia, bisogna farlo bene. Così ricominciò la mia risalita. Da recordista divenni fonico, quello che sta in cabina a registrare, responsabile delle voci registrate e rompiscatole. A Roma, per esempio, ero diventato il fonico di fiducia della montatrice di Roberto Rossellini: Jolanda Benvenuti.

Avevo proposto una modifica all’uso dei registratori (audio registratori Ampex, a nastro, all’epoca una nuova tecnologia) per evitare che i motori grippassero essendo accesi tutto il giorno. Proposi di far partire il motore solo all’atto della registrazione. L’idea fu rifiutata dal capotecnico ma approvata dal figlio del padrone che nel frattempo si era laureato.
Avevo anche indicato come ottenere l’effetto stereofonico delle acque degradanti dalle risaie vietnamite in “Continente Perduto” di Craveri e Folco Quilici. Era il primo film in cinemascope italiano e si contava molto sul prestigio che ne avrebbe avuto. Alcune scene ritraevano le risaie tailandesi, un panorama sconfinato di piccole terrazze a degradare in cui l’acqua scendeva di terrazza in terrazza, irrorando il riso. L’intento era di dare una sensazione di spazio al rumore dei ruscelli che riempivano lo schermo e per fare questo il supercapotecnico non trovò di meglio che inviare lo stesso segnale sui tre altoparlanti dietro lo schermo: sinistro, centrale, destro. Risultato deludente, il suono sembrava provenire solo dal centro.
Avanzai la proposta di leggere lo stesso suono su tre macchine diverse in modo che giungesse ai tre altoparlanti in tempi diversi: il risultato fu sbalorditivo: si aprì una scena sonora spaziale in cui si percepivano migliaia di ruscelli gorgheggianti, da sinistra a destra.
Evidentemente ero un rompiballe da rispedire a casa, cosa che fu la mia fortuna.
Fui rispedito a Milano a reggere la nuova filiale della Fono Roma.

SMART DEAR PLATITUDES

by Rosanna Albertini

About THREE FUNERALS AND SOME ACTS OF PRESERVATIONS

a film by JUDY FISKIN, 2016

It’s a film because images move, but after months of simmering this art piece in my mind, now I see it as visual music, very much as John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes: simple as dripping water, unassuming textures of reverence for a life we cover as a mysterious distance.

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How not to be elusive about death? How to be personal and elusive, personal and intuitive, wearing a dress of courtesy, some hints of humor. Judy’s film is a visual score. Lines of people moving horizontally and of cars rolling on the freeway. Notes are replaced by stories in a natural flow from which rough edges are smoothed out.
One funeral at the beginning, two funerals in the end, and stories of physical care in the middle: the statues’ maintenance.

That’s Fiskin’s quite unique art: to keep courtesy in the face of death. To clean the artwork of most intellectual rules, making art like a veil lifted from life, tied around her face often laughing at modernist obsessions, maybe at any kind of mental constructions. How long do they last? Is there knowing or believing?

Time is the body of films and music. Images and sounds are surfers in a pond of time, they exist as a savor, a perfume. We can only “integrate that savor into the fabric of our own identity.” George Steiner*

Once we have arrived to a certain life degree, by experiencing and understanding other humans, every relationship, even with our wisest or lovely friends, is only valuable in the atmosphere soaking them completely; and conversations, profound as they can be, have lost the power to give us intellectual happiness; they rather work in us like musical melodies.” Arthur Schnitzler**

 

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In the film, the sculptures by Isamu Noguchi, Henry Moore, Arturo Martini and others artists of the modern era (only with the exception of Charlie Ray), scattered in the gardens of the Getty Center, are washed and dried as if the Getty Museum conservators’ hands engaged in a caress because they must. There is no love, just periodic maintenance. The sculptures are rigid and heavy forms from day one, corpses. Don’t be mistaken. Judy Fiskin presents them as a trickster would: shiny, perfect, wonderful images that vanish through time. Death is the cord that ties them all, one more string of the music. I remember Homer: shoulders and muscles described as the pride of the living hero, seen at once like future shadows, lifeless, as if Achilles and the other warriors were already dead. This was then, in the ancient times, but now? Art history is a strange museum by itself, calling for veneration, offering exceptional and surprising specimens… do we really care?

 

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In the countryside house where I was born there was a bronze, the head of Jesus sculpted by a local artist, maybe Celeste was his name but I’m not sure. Jesus was sad. When grandfather died, I was seven, the family put a pillow embroidered by me under his head and the bronze on his grave. It is still my favorite sculpture. Facing death, Jesus was hiding his deep feelings, had a quiet expression. I can still see that face as I think, my eyes open. Grandfather used to say that life is so marvelous, something must continue after the threshold is passed. It was faith in a non religious artist.

Judy Fiskin lights a dim lamp at her window. People and words and images are a simple parade of acts and speeches we modulate without thinking in our daily journey. Common senses, platitudes. I’m not the first naming the aesthetic of courtesy, George Steiner is the master, but as far as I know very few artists of our time place this secret, inner feeling at the core of their work as Judy does. I love it because it’s not only about her, it unravels with grace the way she addresses the viewers, all of us. We are in her she can be in us. Platitude is not flatness, it is life as it is, true and fake, modest and grandiose, a little scary, mostly impossible to fish by words. Not without values.
Civility, courtesy and kindness in these days more reliable than truth.

JUDY FISKIN,Three Funerals and Some Acts of Preservation, Film, 2016 (excerpt)

*George Steiner, Real Presences, The University of Chicago Press, 1989
** Arthur Schnitzler, Relations et Solitudes, Aphorisms (Original title: Beziehungen und Einsamkeiten, 1967) Editions Rivages, translation from German by Pierre Deshusses, Paris,1988. Translation from French of this quote by R.A.

FROM THE SWISS ALPS TO THE CALIFORNIA DESERT

   MATZA AMBOY – DRYLAND LAB

2016: UNDERGROUNDS : Art, Land Use and Democracy

From July 5, 2016 to an unknown day, at the mercy of nature and other unexpected events.

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It’s hard to tell if there is or there was Amboy, in the middle of the Mohave Desert (CA). It was an expanded station for travelers journeying on Route 66 by horse, by car or by train since the late nineteenth century. They called it a town because it had a train station, a post office, followed by a motel, a gas station, a church and a few houses. For awhile also a school, that died in 1999. Never more than eighty people were brave enough to spend their life in Amboy over a hundred and a few more years. The local monument is a volcanic cinder cone, bare as a Richard Serra sculpture cooked in the earth’s  belly, overlooking the driest land one can imagine. The whole town has been bought and sold as only one urban body more than once, maybe by charming the newcomers with a faded, modernist look.

“With the opening of the DRYLANDS LAB in 2015, Matza Amboy dedicates its program to the question of water and its distribution.”

ONCE A YEAR FOR FOUR WEEKS it “brings together a selection of artists but also researchers in social sciences, engineers (solar energy, water) and architects.”

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This is the exhibition I saw in Amboy, a population of art pieces shrunk by heat, covered with dust, transformed by the place. Maybe it also happened to the artist this year, more connected to the sense of loss and abandonment inspired by empty distances around the town, a space devouring the meaning of any direction except maybe imaginary lines between Amboy and constellations, planets, moons and meteorites so similar to the surface of this empty land that, at a distance, shines with salt.

There is no water on the moon”, writes Katharine in a beautiful text pinned on the wall. She describes the desolate rooms of the Amboy School, left as they were at the end of a normal morning, books on the tables and drawings and something written on the blackboard, as if a sudden disaster had forced everybody out, out in the sun, out of the inner spaces in which breath and perspiration were spread and absorbed by the skin, escaping the cruelty of being dispersed in open air. I should see Katharine’s textile banner twisted by the wind; it’s not there. School books, drawings and cyanotypes on display aren’t safe neither, the sliding back of the display cabinet is open: some papers move around on the floor. Peter and I felt entitled to put them back, definitely captivated by open doors, and lack of edges, while the heat sucked our brains out of the skull. Not completely though, we could still enjoy the ideas behind the desiccated or altered bodies of the art pieces. Our and their nostalgia hung to almost nothing, just enough to click on our cultural sensitivity.

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The six white rooms of a defunct motel open their door to the art of visionary strangers with a warm heart. Concepts turn into feelings, giving form to physical awareness of common challenges for all humans: the suffocating protection against global warming in a room; white curtains flying through the windows in another room, the white room that breaths and invites us to look beyond the walls. There is the Post Office in front of the cabins, on the other side of the road. An artist, Delphine, paints a white crosswalk. Illegal! For sure she didn’t know it. Now her white stripes have been covered with black paint. They remained stripes, not very precise on the sides, as if painted with a broom.

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Five weeks of solitude after the artists left, and the nails of democracy brought by Séverin have probably given to the locals the wish to be actively part of the installation, for better or worse. Although the Rain Book was stolen, somebody partially replaced it with two pages for a new rain book: writing about a day of rain near Amboy, and adding two photographs from her backyard. I can’t tell for sure, but I believe it was a girl. It’s great when the art expands beyond the initial, limited object, expanding the idea in other minds, through other fingers.

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Half of the art pieces are outdoors, not easy to identify because some local sibling keep them company. Dear friends from Switzerland, you have followers!
Maybe they didn’t grab the beauty of the Ghost Drops and even stole the water jar from the excavated hole, it doesn’t matter. The order you brought into the desert doesn’t belong there. That’s why it is striking to touch it, with long fingers from the eyes. The pyramid in small size, the windmill, the hole, the bridge are as basic as the wheel, one would believe that time has vanished, you remade in the American desert symbols of a culture exposed to failure, silence, misunderstanding. Maybe without wanting you all approached Allan Kaprow’s idea of un-art, almost becoming un-artists, “the offsprings of high art who have left home.”

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Jardin å la Française, the only piece the goes directly from the mind of the artist to the visitor’s mind, is a revelation in the landscape, not less than the vision in front of a French castle’s over designed garden. There was a moment, after driving guided by your instructions, when I almost screamed “stop!” “It’s here!”
Maybe I was wrong au pied de la lettre, yet I was sure the whole dryland, the bushes and the far away mountains had assumed a sense of order, an imperfect geometrical perspective around an unpaved road whose end could only be imagined. Yes! A sense of enthusiasm made me almost forget the 110 degrees of the air, wind and dust. Not for long. A grumbling noise from the road woke me up. Twelve Harley Davidson’s with their riders covered in black leather stopped in front of the white little cabins, perfectly lined up. Language was French. Laughing, my midwestern husband exclaimed: “order is only cultural.”  Maybe art is not, not completely, and it is for the best.

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ARTISTS OF MATZA AMBOY 2016

Marie Velardi, Frederick Choffat, Katharina Hohmann, Thierry Maeder, Delphine Renault, Severin Guelpa, Delphine Renault, Thierry Maeder, Maxime Bondu, Daniel Zamarbide, Leopold Bianchini, Laurence Piaget-Dubious

http://www.matza.net/matza_amboy_2016.

Photographs: PETER KIRBY

RICKI DWYER : THE WEAVER

THE GIANT LOOM – THE SECRET TENSION – 8’ x 9’ x 3’

Text by Rosanna Albertini                               

Photographs by Faythe Levine

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It was not a warm room with fireplace, nor a group of chatting girls moving their needles in small stitches weaving their feelings, or one would say, waiting for their life to begin. The giant loom was placed outdoor, tied to the strongest trees in a clearing in the woods. The weaving work, performed by young human bodies, males and females, transformed an inert structure into a vibrant machine, almost an animal slightly moving on the ground under the pulling of the ropes, to separate the two layers of parallel threads (the warp) and pass other threads in between. And the weaving proceeded over hours and days until rhythm and sounds became the breathing of the loom, until the machine’s mind got numb, stopped resisting. The woven surface grew like foam on the seashore, completely white, in a regular shape that no water would try to spit out, unless a dream could congeal…

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In that wood, artist Ricki Dwyer hung her frustrations in the sky, along with the images of a feminine life locked into frames of intimacy and resilience, tied up by needles and timbers. She moved to the industrial scale of collective collaboration. The days of weaving were the real art piece, hands and legs serving the monumental machine as if it/she/he were the ogre in a fairy tale asking for the right tension, threatening failure at every movement.

The giant loom was the impersonal god setting up the conditions for a piece to be done. The artists, the makers, had to adapt and accept. Oh, isn’t the thread of life very similar to the weaving work? We spend our living time searching for a key to get rid of  frames in the slice of history we happen to be in, as if we had unlimited time. Even more terrifying is the accomplishment: it throws the artist into despair. The finished work looks at her from an alien space. Free from her, in the end. The key has disappeared.

It was not death, for I stood up,
And all the dead lie down;
it was not night, for all the bells
Put out their tongues, for noon.

It was not frost, for on my flesh
I felt siroccos crawl, –
Nor fire, for just my marble feet
Could keep a chancel cool.

And yet it tasted like them all;
The figures I have seen
Set orderly, for burial,
Reminded me of mine,

As if my life were shaven
And fitted to a frame,
And could not breathe without a key ;
…………………………………………….
EMILY DICKINSON, XXXVI. Poems, Third Series, 1896*

The loom itself, or her/himself, is a vehicle, a boat with an horizontal sail. The fabric spread on his legs, at the two sides of the vertical spine, will be a texture of movements helping the human tension to shape, maybe, the motionless memory of the thread: half inch three ply white nylon rope tightly stretched and interwoven. Such fabric could be a transparent wall that allows the light to slip into the woven forms as if light herself would sew, in and out, making her own daily work.

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I wonder if it was the dynamic nature of this art piece that made me think of Ricki Dwyer as a colporteur, otherwise called pilhaouer, pilawer, chiffonier. Men from extremely poor mountain villages in France used to travel all over the country trading pots, or painted objects, for unusable clothes or fabric they could sell to be shredded by the mills, for the factories of paper. Four, five centuries ago, until the 1950s. A survival effort. Their life on the roads, not really what they earned, gave to their figure a special, respected quality: for they had met new people, crossed unknown cities and rivers, learned languages, songs, had stories to tell as they went back home.

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The artist doesn’t sell the giant loom, she moves with her giant from one to another place. Work in progress. The loom becomes “the stage for an experience to happen,” she says, and the weaving hours are cooperative learning, a spring of energy. An object will be made in the end, and yet it is not the major goal. Contemporary ritual of equal giving and receiving. Working and common effort are the values. The artist offers to activate energy through her presence and tools. That seems to be her point.

Her life, and lives of the other participants, share time and space outdoors with the natural mood of the day: the tongues of the sun, the needles of wind, and the layers of light. Instead of producing many more objects, a lot more than mother earth can tolerate, she installs situations. Can she breathe without a key? That I don’t know. I believe she tries to. And it is, it is indeed a survival effort. Not only for her, also for the art world.

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“We witness the advent of the number. It comes along with democracy, the large city, administrations, cybernetics. It is a flexible and continuous mass, woven tight like a fabric with neither rips nor darned patches, a multitude of quantified heroes who lose names and faces as they become the ciphered river of the streets, a mobile language of computations and rationalities that belong to no one.”

MICHEL DE CERTEAU, The Practice of Everyday Life, 1984

*Republished in Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson, Gramercy Books, New York-Avenel
Special materials @ 1982 by Crown Publishers, Inc.

GIANT LOOM WEAVING by Ricki Dwyer, work in progress, in its venue of 2016 performed at the Black Mountain School, Near Asheville, North Carolina. Overall installation approximately 8’ x 9’ x 30’

PHILIP GUSTON’s touch on MY BLINDNESS

Something happened in New York City, May 21

By Rosanna Albertini

This is a piece on the physical status of painting and the dominant illusion that intelligence is not physical: rather an immaterial spark of infinity that makes humans different from monkeys… If such a deceiving idea has a comfortable room in your mind, listen to the story. Maybe you will stop recalling theoretical or historical stereotypes when you look at a painting. You might feel like a bird, perched on the artist’s shoulder, rolling your eyes into the display of wet colors.

PHILIP GUSTON, Untitled, 1967 Brush ans ink on paper, 18 1/8 x 23 1/8 inches @ The Estate of Philip Guston - Courtesy Hauser and Wirth

PHILIP GUSTON, Untitled, 1967 Brush and ink on paper, 18 1/8 x 23 1/8 inches
@ The Estate of Philip Guston – Courtesy Hauser and Wirth

For most of my life as an art writer I have not been able to respond to Guston’s paintings. It was like having a locked door in front of me. There was no reason why. His paintings, those with figures, were flooding me with sadness, a fog in my brain. Reading essays and books did not rift my clouds. I couldn’t understand what was really going on, if it was me or Guston’s manner of operation, raising a barrier.

“It is writing of course it is the human mind and there is no relation between human nature and the human mind no no of course not. … oh yes the flatter the land the more yes the more it has may have to do with the human mind.” Gertrude Stein

Also Gertrude’s ‘of course’ was to me a matter of doubt. But her writing and thinking have something  of the painting’s flatness, they do not do not climb geometrical logics. On May 21, in New York City, my stubborn brain had to give up: I had to admit she was completely right: Guston’s paintings as probably any other great paintings for that matter don’t have much to share with human mind. I realized it after my head, on May 21, was seriously knocked down by a biker who hit my body like a balloon. I was crossing the street. For weeks each step has been painful, I’m still not my usual walking self. The day before the accident, I had seen Philip Guston’s exhibition of abstract paintings and drawings (1957-1967)  at Hauser and Wirth.

PHILIP GUSTON, Accord i, 1962 Oil on canvas 68 1/8 x 78 1/2 inches @ The Estate of Philip Guston - Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

PHILIP GUSTON, Accord I 1962,  Oil on canvas 68 1/8 x 78 1/2 inches
@ The Estate of Philip Guston – Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

Prisoner of a bed for hours, days, I started to revisit his paintings, those that are called abstractions, with new sympathy. They were inside my body along with bruises and changing colors around my left eye; they kept me in a state of questioning, about the human sites Guston had laid down carefully, layer by layer, but he didn’t clean them, nor idealized them; they are painted as messy  as they are: until a state of painted harmony is reached between strokes and colors.

PHILIP GUSTON, Untitled 1958 Oil on canvas 64 1/8 x 75 1/4 inches @ The Estate of Phiip Guston - Courtesy of Houser and Wirth

PHILIP GUSTON, Untitled 1958,  Oil on canvas 64 1/8 x 75 1/4 inches
@ The Estate of Phiip Guston – Courtesy of Houser and Wirth

As still lives do, these paintings block in a configuration that is not allowed to change the most undefinable nuances of a daily conversation: bodies and sounds and gushes of wind in their invisible, constant mutations. Guston could feel them, he paints his own sensations through the moment and place he is in. His feeling of existence.

He wrote in 1960: “I think a painter has two choices: he paints the world or himself. And I think the best painting that’s done here is when he paints himself, and by himself I mean him and his environment, in this total situation.”

Give a look to The Year, 1964: it has two empty pupils, black. Each of them is beginning and ending. Hadn’t the tormented fury of time crossed their holes already, they wouldn’t be  looking at us announcing a quiet end of the day after all; actions or changes continue not to be compatible, and yet The Year keeps all the chopped stories together, floating in the same gray light. White and pink still peep out gently, they are not foreground.

“I don’t know why the loss of faith in the known image and symbol in our time should be celebrated as a freedom. It is a loss from which we suffer, and this pathos motivates modern paintings and poetry at its heart.

PHILIP GUSTON, Group II 1964, Oil on canvas 65 1/8 x 79 1/8 inches @ The Estate of Philip Guston - Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

PHILIP GUSTON, Group II 1964, Oil on canvas 65 1/8 x 79 1/8 inches
@ The Estate of Philip Guston – Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

PHILIP GUSTON, The Year 1964, Oil on canvas 78 x 107 1/2 inches @ The Estate of Philip Guston - Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

PHILIP GUSTON, The Year 1964, Oil on canvas  78 x 107 1/2 inches
@ The Estate of Philip Guston – Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

At work in his studio, Philip Guston looks like a fisherman. Aquatic density in his compositions, floating of perceptions maintaining their chaotic and movable quality. Never twice the same. Never rigid, either. Known images and symbols are gone. What remains, then? The physical status of painting.

Finally, now that my body has been wounded, and my mind absorbed by pain, I see how great is Philip Guston’s art. I needed the loss of faith in the image of myself I had met most of my life: positive, invulnerable, independent. I became one of the many anonymous black holes Guston repeated  and repeated inside the bundle of matter, the formless nest of our daily situation. His paintings of the sixties are not images of anything one recognizes, nor portraits of ideas. He looks down. The narcissus he sees is a black spot on the asphalt where I bumped my head.

He does nothing to fill the blackness, his own or others’. And if sameness is everybody’s destiny what can he do? Paintings will carry it; vertical objects lifting an horizontal scene, so the angle is changed. There are not forms, not hierarchies, only a common ground.

PHILIP GUSTON, Painter III 1963 Oil on canvas 66 x 79 inches @ The Estate of Philip Guston - Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

PHILIP GUSTON, Painter III 1963,  Oil on canvas  66 x 79 inches
@ The Estate of Philip Guston – Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

The extremely simple drawings assembled on the same wall brought tears to my eyes: the line is not Paul Klee’s vein reproducing nature’s growing energy, memory and identity are not in these marks on paper.   Each sign says ‘I’m here, now. I am unique, not sure what I’m doing here, and yet don’t be mistaken: I am the language the Guston artist practices to tell himself he is alive, the marks of his human nature, looking hesitant as well as strong.’ Existential beauty, no need to explain.

Philip Guston in his studio, New York, 1957 Photo: Arthur Swoger @ The Estate of Philip Guston - Courtesy Hauser and Wirth

Philip Guston in his studio, New York, 1957
Photo: Arthur Swoger
@ The Estate of Philip Guston – Courtesy Hauser and Wirth