Laramie Wyoming

REPEATING THE DRIVE THAT ENDED MATTHEW SHEPARD’S LIFE

one night of OCTOBER 1998 — by JULIE SHAFER

These images were created while driving the same path taken by two men in Laramie Wyoming who kidnapped and murdered Matthew Shepard. The men enticed Shepard, an openly gay man, to follow them outside the Fireside Lounge where he was kidnapped, taken to a deer post five miles away, tied up, beaten, and left to die. He was found alive but unconscious the next morning, by a cyclist who described his body as looking more like a scarecrow than a human. Matthew Shepard died in the hospital six days later.

Fireside Lounge to 41.296111, -105.515000 Looking out the Driver side window, 2013 Inkjet Print  67" x 44" Courtesy of the artist © JULIE SHAFER

Fireside Lounge to 41.296111, -105.515000
Looking out the Driver side window   2013    Inkjet Print    67″ x 44″
Courtesy of the artist
© JULIE SHAFER

Fireside Lounge to 41.296111, -105.515000 Looking out the rear passenger's window, 2013 Inkjet Print  67" x 44"  Courtesy of the artist © JULIE SHAFER

Fireside Lounge to 41.296111, -105.515000
Looking out the rear passenger’s window    2013     Inkjet Print      67″ x 44″
Courtesy of the artist
©JULIE SHAFER

 It really didn’t matter to me what the photos looked like, but I was afraid if I left the LCD screen on I wasn’t going to be able to resist looking, judging, altering, trying to make “better.” The point of being out here is to travel the same road Matthew Shepard and his two kidnappers drove, making photos that are a record of that drive. Whatever appears, appears.

I didn’t want to know what the photos looked like because I was afraid nothing was going to record at all. At one point I turned my headlights off so I could see, and there was nothing there at all. The prairie was instantly absorbed into black, and I was floating through time and space. My eyes darted left and right but had nothing to land on. If not for the sound of my tires spinning on pavement I’d be convinced I wasn’t moving at all. Before panic could set in, I closed my eyes. My frenzied eyes continued to dart around, and finally relax once patterns of light appear. These same patterns appear when I close my eyes to go to sleep — when my body is tired but my mind still active. This time they come to help me make sense of this place. My eyes open, headlights back on, and off in the distant is a small light, probably the light of a ranch countless miles away. I finally had something to land on and it made me feel small, insignificant and alone.

 

Gallery

IMPORTANCE OF BEING PERPLEXED

PAINTER STEVE GALLOWAY, a SON OF THE DESERT

by Rosanna Albertini

Object is fact not symbol (no ideas). It is, is cause for joy (John Cage)

But words are not shadows. Words are objects. (Viktor Shklovsky)

 Let me tell you a story. There is a ditch between the pleasure we receive from an artwork and truly seeing what the artist did. With Steve Galloway’s pictures, I could be stuck in the ditch forever were I asking help from books. One of the smartest tells me that “we don’t know how art began any more than we know how language started.” (E. H. Gombrich) Therefore, I must thank yesterday’s sunset: it was a scattered movement of light fighting the grayness through the clouds. As the light grew dim, electric ovals, intertwined, drew in the sky one of the most classical and mysterious secrets of painting: how the painting itself generates light. The sky became an immense painting over the city of angels which is desert and money and romanticism and politics, but the desert comes first.

STEVE GALLOWAY, About 20 Feet  2014  Pastel on paper 25" x 20" Courtesy of the artist

Steve Galloway,  ABOUT 20 FEET  2014,  Pastel on paper,  25″ x 20″
Courtesy of the artist

STEVE GALLOWAY Consumed   2014  Oil on linen  20" x 16" Courtesy of the artist

Steve Galloway,  CONSUMED  2014,  Oil on linen,  20″ x 16″
Courtesy of the artist

As an artist, Galloway is a son of the desert. A master in the land of nothingness, where our individual nature is the least part of ourselves. He questions the space, the sunlight, artificial lights, transient colors, bushes, rocks, animals, insects and paints them as estranged presences; history will never box them in. Galloway’s house, the mouse, the spider or the red bed underwater bring up the triumph of a detached isolation. “Look at me, I’m a different bed, you don’t know me. Only Steve can touch me, not even him, his brush, or his pencil does, I’m powerful. I’m a light plant.” The red bed has become the quintessence of an heroic solitude, a king hiding the crown. A medusa bed? When the aquatic Polyphemus bites the red cover, then really the bed’s power flows over the sand surface and goes far, far away. That’s the art: a common object mutates into a magical presence and we can feel it’s power.

Yet, before the sunset I hadn’t seen that each scene built in Galloway’s mind doesn’t include shadows. The opposite happens: the painted image diffuses the light it contains, may we call it life? Images mark their presence on the ground in spite of realism or physical limitations. They play with words, but don’t reveal the story. Bushes devouring a little house, a big frog hoping to eat the dragonfly. Our eyes eating the image in one blink. Although constantly threatened, this imaginary universe is meant to expand as a message of freedom. Is the mouse dreaming to be Cootie Williams while he blows the trumpet? Is the TOOT the center of desire that generates light around the little animal on the straw? Whatever the environment, the circumstances, it is, is cause for joy.

STEVE GALLOWAY, MAYFLY 2009, Charcoal and pastel on paper, 28" x 20" Courtesy of the artist

Steve Galloway, MAYFLY 2009, Charcoal and pastel on paper, 28″ x 20″
Courtesy of the artist

Steve Galloway, TOOT, 2013 Pastel et fusain sur papier, 38 x 28 cm. Courtesy of the artist

Steve Galloway, TOOT 2013,  Pastel et fusain sur papier, 38 x 28 cm.
Courtesy of the artist

I believe that I like to see what is seen.

Ah yes of course.

I believe that I like to see what bothers me.

Oh yes of course.

I believe that I like to be what is not human nature to be because human nature is not interesting. …

But anything flying around is.

Oh certainly.

Therefore there is the universe.

Because it is flying around.

It is interesting.

Romance and the human mind are interesting and are they flying well they are not. (Gertrude Stein)

Stories are an extended series of meanings

ALEXIS SMITH: Autobiography, Almost Involuntary (abstract)  — IN HER OWN WORDS

LOS ANGELES

I think you could justifiably make a case for me as some kind of eccentric, like Joseph Cornell — somebody really driven by a particular cosmology and the attempt to articulate it. But you could make an equally good case for me as one of a contingent of humorous L.A. conceptual artists who are tongue-in-cheek and irreverent, yet still serious and intellectual, like Ed Ruscha or Mike Kelley, John Baldessari or Al Ruppersberg. I’m just as tied to that group of people as I am to the world of the inanimate.

ALEXIS SMITH, Kerouac Haiku 1994 Mixed media collage, 27" x 32" x 2" Courtesy of Honor Frazer Gallery, Los Angeles

ALEXIS SMITH, Kerouac Haiku 1994  Mixed media collage  27″ x 32″ x 2″
Courtesy of Honor Fraser Gallery, Los Angeles

[Click on the image to make it bigger and see details]

     As a child — and to some extent, even to this day — I felt more comfortable in the world of the inanimate, just a some people feel more comfortable with animals and plants. I have a feel for everyday objects of the physical universe. As soon as I fell into the art world, I ceased to exist in a vacuum. I realized that mine was a natural, innate impulse, but I also had to assess all the formal issues of composition, color, and materials. I began to learn and became more sophisticated about both the history of art and its materials.

     When I started working, I put together pieces of other people’s writing with objects and images. I was using all of it as found material, taking things that other people had said more eloquently than I could say them myself. I figured that if other people thought these things, and I thought them too, they must somehow be universal. I sought to show people the connection between the physical things they make and the stories they tell: the same impulses that generate the language and the stories generate the objects. For me everything is related, and I think it always has been. Stories are an extended series of meanings. I think I can look at things and see relatedness, that is, see instinctually how something could be a metaphor for something else, how images and objects fit together and how people generate stories, words, and objects. All these things are extensions of how people experience the world. I like the idea that these elements of meaning are not static, that they shift according to the context.

     A lot of the source material that I ultimately used in my work came from my father. He was born in 1906, so he was two generations older than I. He sort of grew up with the century. He was born in Ogden, Utah, and he used to ride around in my grandfather’s buggy under a buffalo robe while Grandpa Driver, the only doctor around in those times, made house calls in rural Utah. My father lived through World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II, and he told me the whole story of the century through his own experiences, because he was a big talker.

     As a result, I was able to project elements of my own life into a sort of prototypical American experience. I put my father’s accounts together with the things I had read for myself, and I did a sort of humanized history using some creative anthropology to reveal the texture of the way things looked and felt. I found that there is a kind of mythology that’s peculiarly American and is outside standard history and traditional European academic culture … I have a perverse sort of antagonism to the European academic tradition and the tyranny it has exercised over the art schools and non archival forms and materials … The artists to whom I really relate are not visual artists; rather, they are quirky American geniuses like Isadora Duncan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Thomas Edison, George Gershwin, and Walt Whitman, who naively reinvented their forms through a mixture of imagination and chutzpah because they refused to accept the traditional definitions of what they wanted to do. (From a 1991 interview with Richard Armstrong, edited by R.A. in 1999 for Technological Rituals)

ALEXIS SMITH, Exporting Western Culture, Exporting Western Values, 2014 Mixed media collages, Two panels: 21" x 17" and 29" x 19" Courtesy of Honor Frazer Gallery, Los Angeles

ALEXIS SMITH, Exporting Western Culture, Exporting Western Values   2014
Mixed media collages  Two panels: 21″ x 17″ and  29″ x 19″
Courtesy of Honor Fraser Gallery, Los Angeles

Alexis Smith’s collages in “Saying yes to everything” at Honor Fraser Gallery

POST SCRIPTUM                   by Rosanna Albertini

 Because I happen to be a European scholar, I must step into Alexis’ antagonism to a tradition which is far from monolithic. Like her Lady Jane (1985) I could sit on a chair with panther legs in the middle of flying bullets and say: “I must remember about chandeliers and dancing and swans and roses and snow.” Not by nostalgia, only to enjoy with Alexis the irrelevant things that add savor to life. The oldest, faded from their first meaning, objects and words become often impertinent, they freely move from the rational order to an imaginary, unfamiliar landscape, a sort of intellectual wilderness. They are totally dependent on us.

They become stereotypes. Alexis picked them from the 20th century garden: “Imagination is more important than knowledge” comes from Albert Einstein and lands in an American Boy’s Life (1989). The same idea had older legs in the time of a boy called Emile, tutored by Jean-Jacques Rousseau: “We believe intelligence is our helper, but imagination is all we have. Through this imaginary world everyone traces a route he/she believes to be the good one.” The conceptual closeness between Alexis and Emile’s father is surprising: the texture of life alters and disfigures people and objects. Through this constant alteration we perceive ourselves and that which is produced by us.

Alexis: “I can look at things and see their relatedness.” Jean Jacques: “And we care for everything, we cling to everything: times, places, people, objects, everything which is and will be important to each of us; our individual nature is only the least part of ourselves. Everyone stretches herself out, so to speak, over the whole earth and becomes receptive over the entire large surface.” Alexis answers stretching the earthly geographical history on the terrazzo floor of the Los Angeles Convention center. “Whither Goest Thou, America?” (Pair o’ Dice, 1990). America the continent has been devoured by a car, the car bumper as large as a whale’s mouth. But the car — icon of a country of movers — looks like the head of a comet dragging the continent along. Embodying mountains and deserts, it’s a mere part dragging the whole and is dragged at the same time. This is a meaning Jean-Jacques could not have conceived. It is the twentieth century landscape.

MOONLIGHT IN A CUP

LA LUNA NEL POZZO

About JEANNE SILVERTHORNE [Giovanna Spinad’argento] New York artist

by ROSANNA ALBERTINI

“Language, one might say, is like perfume; it circulates to unpredictable effects.” (Adam Phillips)

Languages, sometimes. They grow in a mind that is human. They slip into large and small rubber crates. Over the crates, bubbling inside and around tiny figures of humans or insects. And they also splash, messed up as it happens when ideas are not ready to take only one precise shape or they don’t want to accept the rigid edges imposed by the forms we know: green flames or salad leaves? The neck of a bird, maybe animal figures refusing to reach a repetitive form. Flexible, movable nature of what we call reality? Things are turned into rubber, and I think of chewing and I see myself spitting words on to this blog which is transformative by technical means. Each of Jeanne’s pieces suggests a story, a miniature theater hiding most of the action, or throwing a hint to keep every ‘meaning’ in movement. The funeral of a lamp shares the top of a crate with a pencil tickled by white worms; it’s Italo Svevo’s pencil, the deus ex machina of one of his books. Green like a forest, a piece of plaster cracks like one rigid body. It also generates a minuscule other which is silicon rubber. Do forms and colors meet by coincidence?

JEANNE SILVERTHORNE, Untitled (Self Portrait) 2011 Rubber, hair, and phosphorescent pigment   5 3/4″ x 4 1/2″ x 3″  Courtesy of the artist and of Shoshana Wayne Gallery Photo: Jene Ogami

JEANNE SILVERTHORNE, Dad on Crate XX on Crate III, (Dad 2013, Crate XX 2014, Crate III 2012)  Courtesy of the artist and of Shoshana Wayne Gallery

JEANNE SILVERTHORNE, Dad on Crate XX on Crate III, (Dad 2013, Crate XX 2014, Crate III 2012) Dad: Rubber, hair and phosphorescent pigment, 5 1/2″ x 2 1/4″ x 3 1/2″
Courtesy of the artist and of Shoshana Wayne Gallery  Photo R.A.

JEANNE SILVERTHORNE, Fallen Lights on Crate XXV on Crate XXIV, 2014 Rubber, phosphorescent pigments Svevo's Pencil, 2014 Rubber 2" x 3" x 12" Courtesy of the artist and of Shoshana Wayne Gallery

JEANNE SILVERTHORNE, Fallen Lights on Crate XXV on Crate XXIV, 2014   Rubber, phosphorescent pigments
Svevo’s Pencil, 2014   Rubber 2″ x 3″ x 12″
Courtesy of the artist and of Shoshana Wayne Gallery   Photo: Jene Ogami

Jeanne Silverthorne sculpts a comedy of errors: the sunflower had started well, then grew too much and couldn’t keep the roots in the ground, it can’t be let off the hook … it commits flowercide. The wire and rubber path of a fly has become a labyrinth in which the insect gets lost. But I’m not tuning my words on the objects, I’m rather focusing on the artist, this woman who condenses in rubber boxes and rolled up pieces of floor the true story of our lives made with packing and unpacking thoughts, feeling and objects. A small crate was exploded by the effort. Exhausting labor of every day. We roll the seasons flattened on paper. We end being rolled up into the calendar, waiting for the last leaf to fall — a dandelion between the teeth, dreaming of tango. Feelings, once packed, stay silent. They become unreadable volumes disorganized by chance and destiny. Imaginary pages we don’t control.  But it also happens that we can’t resist the wish to associate with other words and images that speak to us, “they make us speak.” Here it’s a visual, sculpted speech: Jeanne Silverthorne’s art between the Etruscan sarcophagus and Donald Judd’s geometrical bodies. With a secret.

JEANNE SILVERTHORNE, Roll-Up Floor with Dandalion 2011 Platinum silicone rubber, phosphorescent pigment 28" x 26" x 9" Courtesy of the artist and of Shoshana Wayne Gallery. Photo R.A.

JEANNE SILVERTHORNE, Roll-Up Floor with Dandalion, 2011 Platinum silicone rubber, phosphorescent pigment 28″ x 26″ x 9″
Courtesy of the artist and of Shoshana Wayne Gallery. Photo R.A.

A silent conversation circulates among crates and small creatures, a magic agreement to keep their mouth shut, the lid steadily closed. An old man sits on two crates, a white woman with glasses walks on a cloud. “That’s my father,” Jeanne tells me. Her mother is the woman. The crates are empty and dark inside. We are not supposed to open them, each one is a different shape, color, grain; they seem to me personal blocks of experience, those packages of life we don’t share, they are private. But father knows what’s inside his hole, Svevo’s pencil knows it. The language of the present brings up surprising images from which time has dropped, they are ghosts, sometimes luminescent. Not monumental no way.  Except maybe the squared cup that was cardboard and tape, transformed into a rubber cup. If one looks inside, the sacred space appears, the secret of a cup looking like a ruin, an empty room protecting a luminous circle on the bottom. Italians call it “la luna nel pozzo,” desire that will never turn off even if everyone knows it won’t become reality, once more words are tricky, as a dream it shines. Drink it.

JEANNE SILVERTHORNE, Drink Me, 2014, Rubber, 12" x 12" x 6" Courtesy of the artist and of Shoshana Wayne Gallery. Photo R.A.

JEANNE SILVERTHORNE,
Drink Me, 2014, Rubber, 12″ x 12″ x 6″
Courtesy of the artist and of Shoshana Wayne Gallery. Photo R.A.

JEANNE SILVERTHORNE, Drink Me (detail, the inside) Courtesy of the artist and of Shoshana Wayne Gallery. Photo R.A.

JEANNE SILVERTHORNE, Drink Me (detail, the inside)
Courtesy of the artist and of Shoshana Wayne Gallery. Photo R.A.

Jeanne Silverthorne, Down the Hole and into the Grain, at Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Bergamot Station, Santa Monica

MEMENTOS

 SAM ERENBERG : HISTORY IN WATERCOLORS

by Rosanna Albertini

As a (modern) divinity, History is repressive. History forbids us to be out of time. Of the past we tolerate only the ruin, the monument, kitsch, what is amusing: we reduce this past to no more than its signature. (Roland Barthes)

 

Chicago 1921: Court of Honor and Grand Basin

Chicago 1921: The Chicago World’s Fair. The Columbian Exposition: Court of Honor and Grand Basin (from Wikipedia)

Queen Nzinga in peace negotiations with the Portuguese governor in Luanda, 1657 (from Wikipedia)

Angola. Queen Nzinga in peace negotiations with the Portuguese governor in Luanda, 1657
(from Wikipedia)

Golf of Sidra incident August 1981: A U.S. Navy McDonnell F-4J Phantom II escorting a Libyan Mikoyan-Gurevitch, M i G-23.

Libya. Golf of Sidra incident  in August 1981: A U.S. Navy McDonnell F-4J Phantom II escorting a Libyan Mikoyan-Gurevitch, M i G-23. (from Wikipedia)

1953, Iranian coup d'état. Overthrowing the democratically elected prime minister Mohammad Moraddegh replaced by an absolute monarch, Shah Reza Palhavi.  Tehran men celebrate the coup. (from Wikipedia)

1953, Iranian coup d’état overthrowing the democratically elected prime minister Mohammad Moraddegh, replaced by an absolute monarch, Shah Reza Palhavi. Tehran men celebrate the coup.
(from Wikipedia)

West Virginia 1921: The Mine Wars between coal companies and miners. Photo: Coal miners displaying a bomb that was dropped during the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921. (from Wikipedia)

Egypt 1956: Suez crisis. Israel invades Egypt, followed by Britain and France. Photo: Damaged Egyptian equipment. (from Wikipedia)

Egypt 1956: Suez crisis. Israel invades Egypt, followed by Britain and France.
Photo: Damaged Egyptian equipment. (from Wikipedia)

Snapshots might be History’s appropriate marks, one shot in time from which we pick up the illusion we know what happened that very moment, it has to do with remembering and forgetting, occupying but not interesting, so says Gertrude Stein.

Think of WRITING as neither remembering nor forgetting, neither beginning nor ending, and I would say that PAINTING works the same way.  With photographic documents or photo journalism we are forced to consider, precisely, which side we are on. Wars and violence break our mental shields. Mysterious snapshots need a great many words to describe an event that is not in our memory except maybe for a name, a date, or less. But here I’m interested in Gertrude’s a-synchronous thinking. She places writing out of time. So does Sam Erenberg’s painting. Did Roland Barthes like her writing? Probably not he was not American. But Gertrude and Sam they both grew up as American Jews.

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, Libya 1981, Watercolors on paper, Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, Libya 1981, Watercolor, 16 x 12 inc., 2008
Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, Egypt 1956, Watercolors on paper, Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, Egypt 1956, Watercolor, 16 x 12 inc., 2008
Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, Angola 1976, Watercolors on paper,  Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, Angola 1976, Watercolor, 16 x 12 inc., 2008
Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, Chicago 1892, Watercolor on paper,  Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, Chicago 1892, Watercolor, 16 x 12 inc., 2008
Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, Iran 1953,Watercolor on paper, Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, Iran 1953, Watercolor, 16 x 12 inc., 2008
Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, West Virginia 1920, Watercolors on paper, Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, West Virginia 1920, Watercolor, 16 x 12 inc., 2008
Courtesy of the artist

Is it by arbitrary choice that artist Sam Erenberg diluted in watercolors all the thoughts in his mind for each historical event he found interesting over the last one hundred years? Destroying the likeness of images and facts, and letting only one word and one date marking the painting like a wound? Is it by accident that The Making of Americans was 925 pages (first paperback edition 1966) of family stories in a tapestry of feelings and behaviors if you go to the bottom of them the same kind in every time, therefore free from dates and memorable events? Unofficial history with her mind fluttering through the sameness of being human it doesn’t matter when, maybe a little more where.

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven images, or any likeness of any thing…” (Exodus 20:4)

Sam’s mind has a need of words. They are shadows, calligraphic stills of a landscape, a human land in which we get lost. Call it history, it doesn’t make it more limpid, or readable. If each event were a tree, we could imagine us in it’s shadow, trying to share the same umbrella, engaging the most impersonal connection. Diluted in watercolors, history has entered the artist’s perception. His mind gives back a physical surface. Painted events are just colors in movement, signs that filled for a while an artist’s cave, his mind with no time nor identity, so “when it sees anything has to look flat.” (G.S.) The event was melted in his eyes. 

 

Passage of Age at the End of World War II

ALBERTO ALBERTINI from MILANO

From childhood to adolescence, the micro-history of a boy (my uncle Alberto) inside the big history of a conflict that changed everyone’s lives. Now in his late eighties, Alberto goes back to his memories hoping to reshape untold stories, feeding the natural desire of expanding our sense of existence. The place is an Italian village — Besano — overlooking lake Lugano. Italian eyes and windows darkened by the conflict gazing across the lake toward neutral Switzerland where lights were not turned off. His family is my family before I came into the world, in 1945. An artist family. Oreste’s paintings (my grandfather) gave to our lives a flavor of turpentine and oil colors, and the odd strength of dreams in the after war fight for survival. Not long ago. (R.A.)

THERE ARE A GREAT MANY PEOPLE ALWAYS LIVING WHO ARE MIXED UP WITH ANYTHING AND THAT IS KNOWN AS EVENTS. (Gertrude Stein)

invwerno-sel-2a

May 23, 2008 3:30:30 PM       Can we still call it time? Not the weather, of course. What’s time? Our events go through it; and although accurate instruments measure the bits, it looks or is ungraspable, flexible, slippery to me. Perhaps we introduce events into the memory as we do with data in a computer, but the more they are engraved in us, or sorrowful, the bigger is the space that we make for them, so when we go over our past again, in those places whose events have deeply excavated our interior, our reading extends along with the image of the past time. 1940-1945. My adolescence, from thirteen to eighteen. A whole life in a few years because from childhood one moves to maturity, and becomes an adult. Five endless years, irreplaceable, enchanting and painfully consuming. Desires, hopes, clear sunsets, the sky swept by the wind in March, snow, cold, the partisans on the mountains, frozen soldiers in Russia, deported people. The war seemed never ending. But really, it was only our expanded life! Now that the Iraq war has entered the sixth year [2008], we didn’t even realize it, those six years disappeared for us, but what about people in Iraq? The years must have been endless for them, no hopes either. When older people from my village recalled facts that had happened ten or twenty years before, they seemed an eternity ago to me. And now that I can go back much further with my own memories, such eternity isn’t there anymore!

My generation grew up through fearful stories. Stories of living dead, witches, graveyard’s skeletons. That’s why I was scared of the dark and of the night, out of the house. I was seven-eight years old when “the little grandma” passed away. They showed her to me lying on the bed wearing a black dress, her body covered with a white transparent veil and surrounded by four lit candles at the corners of the bed. I was shocked. For years I was scared walking by that door in the night time. Such a deep interior perturbation — I believe— might have been the origin of a similarly deep religious crisis. I had become absolutely and deeply religious. There was maybe also another reason: I had fall in love with the sister of a school friend. Her blond, long hair were braided. Although she was five years older than I was, I was eight she was thirteen, I was convinced it was not an obstacle. On the pretext I was visiting her brother I glued myself to her so much that, because she was God-fearing, to be able to follow her I went to church morning and afternoon. The consequence was a disquieting fact. Taken by fervor, I started to follow processions, and one time I walked bearing a very heavy crucifix. The wood was heavy on my belly. My long pants, moreover, had become small and tight. At the time there was a cut in the front of the underpants, which was covered by pants! It was my clear sensation, instead, that my weeny was also out of my pants and everyone, since I was at the head of the procession, could see me in such embarrassing situation. I was not able to lower my hands to check it out for they were holding the crucifix, even less to look down. I went through an endless time of panic, until in the end I could reassure myself. That’s the limit that determined, later, a turning point.

6415-ALBERTO

espansa 002

espansa-001

autore sel-11

autore-sel-16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alberto Kurosawa style

 

liliana001 copy

Per Francesco e Diego

Dall’infanzia all’adolescenza, la microstoria di una ragazzo (lo zio Alberto) nella grande storia di un conflitto che ha cambiato la vita di tutti. Avvicinandosi ai novant’anni, Alberto ripercorre le sue memorie sperando di dar forma a storie mai dette,  di colmare il desiderio naturale di espandere il senso dell’esistenza. Il posto è un paesino italiano — Besano — con  vista sul lago di Lugano. Occhi italiani e finestre oscurati dal conflitto contemplano la Svizzera neutrale dall’altra parte del lago, dove le luci sono sempre accese. La sua famiglia è la mia famiglia prima che venissi al mondo, nel 1945. La famiglia di un artista. I quadri di Oreste (il mio nonno, padre di Alberto) hanno imbevuto le nostre vite con gli odori della trementina e dei colori a olio; forse ci hanno dato la strana forza dei sogni nello sforzo per sopravvivere del dopoguerra. Non molto tempo fa. (R.A.)

Si può ancora dire tempo? Non quello atmosferico, s’intende. Che cos’è il tempo, quello che noi attraversiamo con i nostri eventi e mentre lo scadenziamo con degli strumenti di precisione esso ci pare, o è, inafferrabile, elastico, sdrucciolevole. Forse come in una memoria di computer si possono inserire dati, noi nella nostra memoria inseriamo eventi, e quanto più sono incisivi o dolenti, per noi, più gli riserviamo spazio, così che, quando ripercorriamo il passato, là dove gli avvenimenti hanno scavato profondamente nel nostro intimo, la lettura si prolunga e così anche la nostra immagine del tempo passato. Cinque anni durò la nostra guerra, 1940-1945. la mia adolescenza, dai tredici ai diciotto anni, il concentrato della vita perché dall’infanzia passi alla maturità, diventi adulto. Cinque anni interminabili, irripetibili, affascinanti e struggenti. I desideri, le speranze, i tramonti limpidi, il cielo terso dal vento di marzo, la neve, il freddo, i partigiani sulle montagne, i militari congelati in Russia, i deportati. La guerra sembrava non finire mai. In realtà era la vita espansa! Ora che la guerra in Iraq è entrata nel sesto anno, [2008] neppure ce ne siamo accorti, questi sei anni sono volati, per noi, ma per gli iracheni? Per loro devono essere interminabili e non hanno nemmeno le speranze. E quando i nostri vecchi rievocavano fatti risalenti a dieci o venti anni prima, a noi sembravano eternità. Invece ora che io posso andare indietro con le memorie molto di più, questa eternità non c’è più!

La mia generazione è cresciuta a storie di paura. Di morti viventi, di streghe, di scheletri al cimitero. Questo faceva si che avessi paura del buio e della notte, fuori. Avevo setto-otto anni quando morì la “nonna” e me la fecero vedere stesa sul letto vestita di nero coperta da un velo trasparente bianco e quattro candele accese agli angoli del letto. Lo shock fu forte. Per anni ebbi paura a passare davanti a quella porta di notte. Questo profondo sconvolgimento interiore credo sia stato la causa di una altrettanto profonda crisi mistica. Ero diventato assolutamente e profondamente religioso. Però forse c’era anche un altro motivo. Mi ero innamorato della sorella di un mio compagno di scuola. Aveva lunghe trecce bionde e cinque anni più di me, io otto e lei tredici, ma ero convinto che questo non fosse un ostacolo. Con la scusa di andare dal fratello mi incollavo a lei e, siccome era timorata di dio, io, per seguirla andavo in chiesa la mattina e il pomeriggio. Ne seguì un fatto inquietante. Nel mio fervore, seguivo anche le processioni e in un’occasione portai anche un pesante crocifisso. Questo mi pesava sulla pancia e per giunta portavo dei calzoni lunghi che erano diventati stretti. Allora si usavano le mutande con un taglio davanti, però sopra c’erano i calzoni! Invece la mia netta sensazione era che mi fosse uscito il pisellino anche dai calzoni e che tutti, ero intesta alla processione, mi vedessero in questa imbarazzante situazione. Io non potevo allungare la mani per controllare perché tenevo il crocifisso, né tanto meno abbassare lo sguardo per vedere. Ho passato un interminabile tempo di panico, finché poi ho potuto rassicurarmi. Questo è stato il limite che ha poi segnato la svolta.

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