HUMAN COLORS

Painter MATSUMI KANEMITSU, nickname MIKE

by Rosanna Albertini

Early 1950s in New York. It seems that Jackson Pollock started to call him Mike. Kanemitsu was one of the artists going to the Greenwich Village Cedar Bar as Pollock did, and Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, de Kooning, Phillip Guston, Joan Mitchell, Gregory Corso, Jack Kerouak, Frank O’Hara, Lee Krasner. Women, I read, were treated like cows. “In 1956 his work was included in a Whitney Annual, and in 1962 Kanemitsu was one of the 14 Americans at the Museum of Modern Art. And yet, his name remains largely absent from most histories of the New York art world in the fifties.” (John Yau)

Please read the beautiful story written by John Yau for The Brooklyn Rail, May 16th, 2008: “Kanemitsu in California during the 1960s and 1970s.”

Why his name disappeared from the New York scene remains a page of unanswered questions. Maybe Mike was tired of New York. Or he was more Japanese than American: although born in Utah in 1922, he grew up near Hiroshima from the age of three. After coming back to the U.S. in 1940 he was drafted in the army (442nd infantry) and had his first one man show on the army. Had he stayed in Japan he would have been drafted in the Japanese army. The place, in time of war, becomes a demanding home. For a double citizen, the war is a splitting knife. Los Angeles had a bigger sky, just in front of Japan. Maybe a less vertical city than New York, a better place for scattered lives keeping two souls, or more, in one body. Mike stepped out of human time in 1992, we can’t ask him.

MATSUMI KANEMITSU, The Hunter, 1960, Oil on canvas Courtesy of Nancy Uyemura

MATSUMI KANEMITSU, The Hunter, 1960  Oil on canvas
Courtesy of Nancy Uyemura

But his work is here, I’ll ask his paintings. They resurfaced from his studio only at the end of last year, 2014, for a double exhibition at The Mistake Room, Los Angeles: Ed Clark—Matsumi Kanemitsu. Exposed to the public for the very first time. Once more, I resist calling them ab-s-tractions as if they were portraits of real fragments, cut out from the space around us, or pulled off the ground like a tree. That’s a pre-neurosciences standpoint. Colors are not qualities of things separate from us.

Artists participate in the sacred dance of nature like everybody else. But their work goes further, disclosing the personal forms of pain, joy, surprise and their difficult conversation. Which could be what happens in The Hunter, Kanemitsu made it in New York in 1960. There were sky and sun and depth somewhere, until a black looking like bitumen floated over a sort of screen bringing flatness, hiding them. Not completely though; figures of light, Proserpina’s hands, push from underneath the edges of blackness. The dark blocks could be bodies (not necessarily human) making love, or uncertain petals of an unknown flower. Time to leave.

MATSUMI KANEMITSU, Hawaii #3, 1973  acrylic on canvas Courtesy of Nancy Uyemura

MATSUMI KANEMITSU, Hawaii #3, 1973  Acrylic on canvas
Courtesy of Nancy Uyemura

Colors are like pain, no one feels pain −and sees colors− in the same way. So it’s a real mystery the way artists go beyond intellectual barriers, the countless ways they manifest the world absorbed and reshaped in playful, unpredictable forms. Hawaii #3,1973, is a fluid dream of bodies with no edges, liquid and impermanent, made with air and water and long necks veined with red, to remind us of blood and all those channels, even in fantasy creatures. In Winterstorm, 1978, we can feel the tension of a mental storm. Yet, I could be completely wrong. It’s hard to be a viewer. Like Ed Clark’s paintings, Mike’s canvasses expel the stiffness of meanings and categories. They are gentle, and free. They are beautiful.

They make me dream of an age (imagined, of course) in which “words and things were not yet separate — different beings adapted to one another, trees connecting to the animals, the earth with the ocean, and humans with everything around them.” (Michel Foucault) In the natural magic, all the figures in the world would relate to each other by similarity: the sky has eyes and the earth has mouths. No need of words.

MATSUMI KANEMITSU, Winterstorm, 1978  acrylic on canvas Courtesy of Nancy Uyemura

MATSUMI KANEMITSU, Winterstorm, 1978  Acrylic on canvas
Courtesy of Nancy Uyemura

A MAGIC BROOM

ED CLARK – painter               by Rosanna Albertini    

 It’s not so much art as it is…life (John Cage)

His life. An American artist born in 1926. He went from Chicago to Paris in the Fifties when Picasso, Braque, Chagall, not to mention Sartre and Camus and Simone de Beauvoir, walked in and out through clouds of smoke: Paris as it happened to be in the fifties. Nevertheless, the artist to whom Clark felt closest to was Nicolas de Stael. Maybe Ed Clark recognized in his landscapes the desperate passion of someone who tried to keep his visions separate from war’s tragedies and the immediate after war poverty and lack of fortune, but who also gave up and jumped onto the void in 1955. Clark tried to paint in the style of his friend. Probably his way to put himself in another artist’s mind, an extreme act of sympathy: The City, 1953. It’s a dark painting. Maybe Ed Clark gave to the city blocks a New York light, or it was his friend’s sadness.

The very young African American painter fell in love with Paris. I can see him converting “the very pulses of the air into revelations” (Henry James), finding a broom and sweeping his feelings over the canvas -the canvas is on the floor. He added freedom and energy to the impulses coming to him from an old, wounded world.

EDWARD CLARK, The City, 1953, oil on canvas. Private collection. Courtesy of The Mistake Room, Los Angeles

EDWARD CLARK, The City, 1953, oil on canvas. Private collection.
Courtesy of The Mistake Room, Los Angeles

PARIS IN THE 50s FROM ALBERT CAMUS’ NOTEBOOKS (1951-59), with bugs interpolated.

Man of 1950: he fornicated and read the newspapers.

Did he, an American in Paris?

Never attack anybody, especially not in writing. The time of criticism and polemics is over – Creation.

From now on, the single and constant affirmation. Understand them all. Love and admire but few.

The public no longer accepts intelligence except within idiotic commentaries.

The more I look at Ed Clark’s most recent paintings, the less I want to put words on them. They exude physical strength and joy of discovery: meanings fly around them almost embracing the canvas, and yet they don’t dare to interrupt with shadows the paintings’ inner life. Directions, stories, sounds, pierce his mind before they fall on the canvas: and every time it’s a new conversation between colors and forms. Because the natural disorder becomes human, captured by an impulse of love, love for the living present, in front of the newness of a painted landscape borrowing natural colors and lights, but escaping time. Clark’s voice: “Wherever he is, an artist, you know, has to do what he believes it’s right.” As if the action of painting had told him what to do: don’t reproduce anything you have seen.

EDWARD CLARK, Untitled, 2013, acrylic on canvas. Collection of the artist Courtesy of The Mistake Room, Los Angeles

EDWARD CLARK, Untitled, 2013, acrylic on canvas. Collection of the artist
Courtesy of The Mistake Room, Los Angeles

 

EDWARD CLARK, Untitled (China Series), 1995, acrylic on canvas. Collection of the artist Courtesy of The Mistake Room, Los Angeles

EDWARD CLARK, Untitled (China Series), 1995, acrylic on canvas. Collection of the artist
Courtesy of The Mistake Room, Los Angeles

“It’s not so much art as it is … life.” Life’s physical threads, movements, changes, adaptations, dimensions, the power of center as well as the softness of marginal strokes. The beauty of a sense of balance. Clark’s paintings are islands of visual music, linked to the heartbeats.

Abstractions? I’d like better not to say so. First word everybody mumbles in front of these paintings, as if the viewers had eyes in their mouth. I’m paraphrasing John Cage. His 1967 attack of impatience: “As they listen to music they start talking. Do they have ears in their mouth? Are they stupid?” True, there is no such thing as silence. Can they just listen? Can we just look, look and wait until the painting awakes in each of our cells, matter talking to matter, and then we’ll see?

“If anything is communicated by art, it happens without any explicit desire for communication. It is communicated by art, involuntarily and to the same extent, to both the artist and the spectator. If the spectator is amazed by a work, so is the artist, unaware as he is of his “achievement.” (Giulio Paolini)

MEMENTOS 2

SAM ERENBERG: COLORS ARE THE SHADOW’S SCREAMS

(Free adaptation into English from Edmond Jabès)

by ROSANNA ALBERTINI

FIRST SINO-JAPANESE WAR Battle of Songhwan

1894 -1895 FIRST SINO-JAPANESE WAR
Battle of Songhwan (Wikipedia)

FIRST SINO-JAPANESE WAR Japanese soldiers beheading 38 Chinese soldiers as a worming to others. By Utagawa Kokunimasa

FIRST SINO-JAPANESE WAR
Japanese soldiers beheading 38 Chinese soldiers as a worning to others. By Utagawa Kokunimasa (Wikipedia)





 

 

 

ARGENTINA 1890: Revolution of the Park.  Revolutionary barricade protecting the Buenos Aires Artillery Park.

ARGENTINA 1890: REVOLUTION OF THE PARK.
Barricade protecting the Buenos Aires Artillery Park. 

 

THE 1898 SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR 3rd Wisconsin Volunteer Battalion awaiting orders to charge the Spanish

CUBA: THE 1898 SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR
3rd Wisconsin Volunteer Battalion awaiting orders to charge the Spanish (Wikipedia)

CHILE 1891 - GUERRA CIVIL Batalla de Placilla

CHILE 1891 – GUERRA CIVIL
Batalla de Placilla (Wikipedia)

They are colors for wars. Since Humans can’t do without wars since the beginning, we walk across their fields searching for whys. We hardly find them. Mostly, there are myths and beliefs; no equivalent between the whys of the specific time and place of a war and our own. Yet, we throw questions on photographs, paintings and written words as if some truth might trespass. It’s the curse of thinking. As if time had made it better, ripe like a perfectly soft persimmon. The “bitch-goddess of blind objectivity” offers us the persimmon as the snake did, tempting Adam and Eve with an apple. Eat it, and blindness will be inevitable.

Oddly enough, more conflicts, cultural, started in modern times among and between the fellows of photographs, paintings, moving images, written or spoken words. My friend Bianca Sforni, after reading Memento 1, History in Watercolors, brought to my table a book by Susan Sontag I had never read: Regarding the Pain of Others, 2003. I devoured it. And I felt like the boa in Le Petit Prince, but with two elephants in my belly: the large body of war images and the moral presence of a biblical elephant repeating over and over: “you shalt not make unto thee any graven images, or any likeness of any thing.

Sam Erenberg’s watercolors float on paper like the music tunes in the air, having a different kind of absorption. They seem to resurface after sinking into layers of shadows. Better not to reduce them to reasonable patterns or wishful considerations, feelings, meanings… language would limp. Sounds from darkness, whispers of pain, heartbeats, heath, emptiness, mutilations, winds, they speak through the music of colors. We can only imagine. Dates and name of the country introduce one more abstraction, like inscriptions on gravestones. We see what we miss. Despite the growth of sciences, human reason does not progress. We thought intelligence could help us to see clear in ourself and around us, but we can only count on our imagination: the immense machine we are is the first unknown territory we live in. Jean-Jacques Rousseau: “Reason is the faculty to organize all the faculties of our soul according to the nature of things and their relations to us.” In this environment abstraction becomes one of the many tools, not the goal.

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos: Argentina 1890 Watercolor, 16 x 12 inc., 2008 Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos: Argentina 1890 Watercolor, 16 x 12 inc., 2008
Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos: China 1894, Watercolor 16 x 12 inc., 2008 Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos: China 1894, Watercolor 16 x 12 inc., 2008
Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos: Chile 1891, Watercolor, 16 x 12 inc> Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos: Chile 1891, Watercolor, 16 x 12 inc.
Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos: Cuba 1898-1902, Watercolor, 16 x 12 inc> Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos: Cuba 1898-1902, Watercolor, 16 x 12 inc.
Courtesy of the artist

Henry James declared to the New York Times in 1915: “The war has used up words; they have weakened, they have deteriorated…” Virginia Woolf during the Spanish Civil War: “Photographs are not an argument; they are simply a crude statement of fact addressed to the eye.” Her revulsion to war is irreducible: war is a man’s game. (Quotes of two masters of words from Sontag’s book) Edmond Jabès: “Le mot ne meurt pas come un homme, mais come un vocable. Avec lui, s’émiette l’univers. The word doesn’t die  like a human, rather like a piece of vocabulary. Along with him, the universe crumbles.

I felt I was losing my mind on December 10, 2001, looking at the “ground zero” landscape in New York, during the nocturnal search for bodies in a hell of debris: a color picture by Edward Keating was on The New York Times’ first page. The center of the image dominated by the back of an ironworker: he stands, but one cannot say he is resting. He looks down at the white blow of dust, or smoke, hard to tell which, as white as a bridge of light. This man’s back is not asleep. What about us? Do we really “sleep our lives?” Do we sleep our writing, our understanding of artworks, resting on a reasonable background that we call theories? Are our systems of thought only fables we make up, to fill the gap between the unaccountable lack of meaning in which we swim every day, and our need for illusion, so deeply rooted that we cannot restrain our minds from liking the absurd act of working, shaping and reshaping intellectual textures or connections?

The fact is that art is not reasonable at all. Art is our best reminder that we are physical entities, mainly connected by a nonverbal exchange. In this sense, as Louise Bourgeois kept saying, art guarantees our mental sanity. Stuck in our search for intellectual truth as a naked tool, we hook ourselves to the sky. But down here there is no escape. Religion of freedom, cult of uniformity and art of forgetfulness — undertaken by centuries of industrial machinery — have cast human brains in iron. I wish they could melt along with Erenberg’s visual stories, and restart breathing.

La parole est dans le souffle, comme la terre est dans le temps. (Edmond Jabès)

Words lie in breath, like the earth lies in time.  

 

TINY FLOWERS OF SACRIFICE

MY CATHOLIC CHILDHOOD in a Northern Italian village near the Swiss border

BESANO was the center of my life

By ROSANNA ALBERTINI

RA-and-Oreste-1

 Grandfather  Oreste and me, the last year of his life

Maria was her name, but everyone called her Nennella, almost a lullaby: three n’s rise the tongue to the roof of the mouth, locking the cave with a vertical, vibrating draw bridge. A chain of no’s fills my first speech chamber, almost inhaling words. They evaporate onto the brain. “No, you must sleep, close your eyes.” “No, you cannot be awake.” “What are you doing underneath the kitchen table? Madonna Santa, why this girl is not yet in bed?” Who were they I do not really know, names describe a branch of Italian Catholicism: grandpa was Giuseppe, Giuseppina the grandma, Giuseppe one of their four children, and one of the girls was Maria, of course. Maria named Giuseppe, her only male offspring. Her sister too named one of her sons Giuseppe. In my under ten mind an undetermined number of siblings were confused by abbreviated variations of Giuseppe: Beppe, Beppino, Pino. How many they were, whether physically existing or not, wasn’t really clear. For me, Pino was first of all a pine tree much more real in my outdoor life than all those big, medium or little people I rarely met, and always with surprise; sometimes we didn’t even speak the same mother tongue. “Why does this piccirill’ speak French?” grandma Giuseppina asked my mother during a visit to her house in Southern Italy. The name of the town was Santa Maria Capua Vetere.

So my childhood, what I remember of it, crossed all the Catholic rituals in chronological order because the church was the only place where I could meet other children in the years before elementary school. My Oreste grandfather, a painter and socialist politician, picked me up early every day from the nun’s preschool, a silent little crime not to be revealed. Mother superior closed her eyes. She did open them wide, instead, the day she noticed that my doctrine booklet, covered with blue sugar paper, had a shining red stamp on a corner: with hammer and sickle. Her large face barely contained by the white band of her veil popped up like a red mellon, she called the priest to exorcize that evil intrusion. But don Claudio minimized the accident, and recommended the nun teach me the welcoming text for the annual bishop’s visit. Grandfather was a good person. For two years in a row I was the official performer despite the smell of heresy around my tiny person. Poor mother superior could only obey. A picture I found shows her concern during my recitation. She was slightly squint-eyed.

RA-and-bishop-2

RA-and-bishop-1

Without these two pictures, my memory would have been erased. My family and my friends’ families never knew how influential the Catholic rituals had been on our small lives. Naive, dumbfounded creatures, we were about fifteen children not really capable of separating the fairy tales’ territory from the church discipline. Like a small army wearing pink or blue overalls, each of us brandishing one carnation, we walked to the cemetery at every funeral. Not to chat was the hard thing, the circumstance only a normal death in which our feelings were not involved.

In the Catholic liturgy, May is the month of the Virgin Mary. We knew she had had a baby without being married and it was O.K. Grandmother told me that my favorite old ant was almost like the Virgin; when she gave birth to her daughter the doctor found her virginal barrier still in place. This was confusing, because my aunt was married. But contradictions of such a kind were easy to overcome, easier than vipers on our paths, when the change of season was overtaking any intellectual challenge. The church was turgid of tuberoses, trumpet lilies, and all the white flowers that nature can bloom. It was a fragrant, sweet scented place more than ever disconcerting. The twenty minutes of singing and praying every night at six, our knees bent on the benches, were a torture perfected by the chilly temperature of the ambiance: our vocal cords were freezing. Besides, we could not avoid the moral guilt, “do each day a small sacrifice like not eating a candy, or not vandalizing a bush for your games, write it on a little white piece of paper, bring it to church.” The tiny flowers of our sacrifice, thus called fioretti, were harvested in a basket. Of course, the stomach was vaguely cramped by the idea that we had nothing to confess, and some other times, instead, relieved because we did have something to confess. Shall we skip the duty? Which was not without remorse if one of the major issues of our chatting was indeed the evaluation of our sins: pouring ink into the neck of the boy sitting in front of us at school, is a mortal or a venial sin? What about throwing a stone at somebody? In our meditated assumptions a stone was less dangerous than a bomb. Six years after the end of the war, different kind of bombs were still around in the countryside, more or less shaped like colored toys; to show them to us, hoping we could recognize them and not touch them, the teacher walked us down the hill to another village where the school had a film projector. Therefore, our missed fioretti were the least of our concerns when compared to life risks.

Turning quickly our back to that terrifying black box with a pierced screen (the confessional) through which one was supposed to talk to a god’s representative, we knew we had said as little as possible not to violate our secret intimacy, moreover the confession’s open mouth was leading to the act of accepting Jesus’ body on the tongue, like cannibals. We rushed out of the church feeling somehow quirky, and ran towards the most exciting evenings of the year: fireflies and jumps over the heaps of the first grass from dusk to dark. The great many questions that had troubled our minds for months over the period of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection, were sort of burned into the fire of a summer sabbath of elves almost drunk by smelling grass, happily dizzy of summersaults.

We did not know, though, that all that metaphysical questioning was already marked in our mental baggage, never to be erased from it. We had seen God’s son dead on the cross, the crown of spines around his forehead and the drops of blood. Painted? For us they were real.  Because such an uncomfortable machinery was laid horizontal on the church’s floor and Jesus’ size wasn’t different from a normal human’s, we did not have any doubt: he was there, definitely dead. We children felt embarrassment rather than pity, witnessing the effects of a crime committed almost two thousand years ago, and utterly confused because the story told by the priest was translated into the present time.

1702 ROSANNA

  My mother Maria and me seven days old, 1945

Per i miei nipoti Diego e Francesco

LA MIA INFANZIA CATTOLICA in un paesino del Nord Italia vicino al confine svizzero, BESANO

Il suo nome era Maria, ma tutti la chiamavano Ninnella, quasi una cantilena: le tre enne portano la lingua verso il palato, chiudendo il cavo della bocca con un ponte levatoio verticale, vibrante. “No” a catena riempiono il mio primo deposito di parole che sono inalate attraverso il naso prima di evaporare nel cervello. “No, devi dormire, chiudi gli occhi”. “No, non puoi restare sveglia”. “Che cosa fai sotto il tavolo di cucina? Madonna Santa, perché questa bambina non è a letto”? Chi fossero davvero, i membri della mia famiglia, è cosa difficile da decifrare. I nomi descrivono una branca di cattolicesimo italiano: un nonno era Giuseppe, Giuseppina la nonna, Giuseppe uno dei loro quattro figli, e naturalmente una delle figlie era Maria. L’unico figlio maschio di Maria si chiama Giuseppe. Anche la sorella di Maria chiamò Giuseppe uno dei suoi figli. Nella mia mente al di sotto dei dieci anni la folla indeterminata dei parenti era confusa dalle variazioni abbreviate del nome Giuseppe: Beppe, Beppino, Pino. Quanti fossero, se esistevano davvero, non era chiaro. Per me Pino era, anzitutto, un albero di pino molto più reale di quelle grandi, medie o piccole persone che incontravo raramente, e sempre con sorpresa; a volte non parlavamo nemmeno la stessa lingua. “Pecché chista piccirill’ parla francioso”? la nonna Giuseppina, da Napoli, chiese a mia madre durante una visita a casa sua nel Sud. Il nome della città era Santa Maria Capua Vetere.

RA-and-dog

                                                                            With Pupa, the dog who was my friend and baby sitter since I was born.

Così la mia infanzia, per quello che ricordo, ha conosciuto tutti i rituali cattolici in ordine cronologico perché la chiesa era il solo luogo dove potevo stare con gli altri bambini negli anni precedenti la scuola elementare. Il nonno Oreste, pittore e politico socialista, ogni giorno mi veniva a prendere all’asilo delle suore con molto anticipo, era una disobbedienza silenziosa da non rivelare alle donne di casa. La madre superiora chiudeva gli occhi. Solo per spalancarli come fari il giorno che notò, sulla copertina blu carta da zucchero del mio libretto di dottrina, un francobollo rosso fiamma in un angolo: falce e martello. La faccia larga e carnosa, a malapena contenuta dalla fascia bianca del velo, diventò rossa come un melone d’estate. Chiamò il prete immediatamente per esorcizzare l’intrusione diabolica. Ma don Claudio passò sull’incidente con mano leggera, raccomandandole invece di insegnarmi il testo del benvenuto per la visita annuale del vescovo. Il nonno era conosciuto come una brava persona. Per due anni di fila sono stata la performer ufficiale, nonostante l’odore di eresia intorno alla mia piccola persona. Povera madre superiora, non le restava che obbedire. Una foto che ho trovato di recente rivela il suo cruccio durante la mia recitazione. Era leggermente strabica.

Senza le foto, la mia memoria sarebbe rimasta silente. La famiglia e gli amici di famiglia non ebbero mai la minima idea dell’influenza che i riti cattolici esercitarono sulla nostra vita di piccole persone. Ingenui, un po’ storditi, eravamo più o meno quindici creature incapaci di separare il territorio delle favole dalla disciplina di chiesa. In fila per quattro in un plotoncino col grembiule rosa o azzurro a quatretti, ognuno di noi brandiva un garofano per accompagnare la marcia verso il cimitero in ogni funerale. Difficile non parlare o sopprimere i risolini. La morte era un fatto normale, non per i sentimenti.

Maggio, nella liturgia cattolica, è il mese della Vergine Maria. Sapevamo che aveva avuto un bambino senza essere sposata e la cosa era regolare. La nonna mi disse che la favorita fra le mie zie era quasi come la Madonna; quando partorì il medico trovò la barriera della verginità ancora presente. Ne fui ancora più confusa perché la zia era sposata. Queste e altre contraddizioni erano facili da superare, più facili delle vipere sui sentieri, quando il cambio di stagione si imponeva su ogni sfida intellettuale. La chiesa era turgida di tuberose, gigli e di tutti i fiori bianchi che la natura può generare. Era un posto invaso da profumi dolcissimi, e più che mai sconcertante. I venti minuti di canti e preghiere tutti i giorni alle sei del pomeriggio, in ginocchio, diventavano una tortura perfezionata dalla temperatura gelida: le corde vocali erano congelate. Per giunta, eravamo presi dai sensi di colpa. “Ogni giorno fai un piccolo sacrificio: non mangiare caramelle, non brutalizzare i cespugli quando giochi, per esempio. Scrivilo su un pezzettino di carta, piegalo e portalo in chiesa”. I fiorellini del sacrificio, che chiamavamo fioretti, venivani raccolti in un cestino. Si aggiunga un vago senso di disagio nello stomaco all’idea che non avevamo niente da confessare oppure, altre volte, che c’era qualcosa da confessare. Come scappare? Che non era senza rimorso, dal momento che uno dei punti più accaniti delle chiacchiere fra noi era la valutazione dei peccati: versare inchiostro nella schiena del compagno seduto nel banco di fronte, in classe, sarà un peccato mortale o veniale? E buttare un sasso contro qualcuno? Nelle nostre meditate assunzioni un sasso era certo meno pericoloso di una bomba. Sei anni dopo la fine della guerra, in campagna c’erano ancora molti tipi di bombe colorate come giocattoli; per farcele vedere, sperando che riconoscendole avremmo evitato di toccarle, la maestra ci faceva camminare fino al paese vicino, Quasso al Piano, dove la scuola aveva un proiettore di film. Paragonati al rischio di perdere la vita, i fioretti erano la preoccupazione minore.

Correndo via svelti dalla terrificante scatola nera con la finestra piena di buchi (il confessionale) che ci metteva in contatto con un rappresentante di Dio, sapevamo di aver detto il meno possibile per non violare l’intimità dei nostri segreti. Per di più, aprire la bocca per la confessione ci avrebbe portato ad accettare il corpo di Gesù sulla lingua, come cannibali. Ci allontanavamo dalla chiesa in fretta, straniti, infine correndo verso le piu eccitanti serate dell’anno: saltavamo sui mucchi di fieno fresco dal tramonto allo scuro della sera, circondati dalle lucciole. Le questioni piu grandi di noi che ci avevano turbato durante i mesi della crocifissione e della resurrezione sparivano nella fiammata di un sabbath estivo come fossimo elfi inebriati dal profumo dell’erba tagliata, disorientati dalle capriole.

A quel tempo non sapevamo che il bagaglio di rimuginamenti, interrogativi, di esami di coscienza, ci sarebbe rimasto impresso nella mente, e per sempre. Avevamo visto coi nostri occhi il figlio di Dio morto sulla croce, la corona di spine intorno alla testa, le gocce di sangue, Dipinte? Per noi erano vere. E siccome quel macchinario disturbante giaceva orizzontale sul pavimento della chiesa e il corpo di Gesù era grande come i corpi vivi, non potevamo aver dubbi: lui era lì, morto. Piu che pietà, noi bambini sentivamo imbarazzo. Un po’ perché eravamo di fronte agli effetti di un crimine commesso duemila anni fa, un po’ perché il prete ci diceva, creando ulteriore confusione, che la storia era ancora valida per il presente.

RA-and-cousin-kiss

 The kiss: Rosanna and cousin Gianluca