F L A G I N T H E W A T E R
SIMONE FORTI in the Rice River (Northern Minnesota)
July 27, 2015
SIMONE FORTI, Flag in the Water, video 19’46” 2015. Cinematography Jason Underhill
Courtesy of the artist and The Box Gallery, Los Angeles
(All the images are stills from the video, kindly provided by Jason Underhill)
N A K E D F E E T O N T H E G R O U N D
by Rosanna Albertini
Written and printed words had to be dry because water melts the paper. But I would like to write on the paper when it’s wet and see the words expand like corals or marine anemones for a while until softened, melted, they let go the strength of their meanings. And truths often thrown like stones would have the look of washed out shadows.
My goddess is Simone Forti: the old woman who builds figures of speech, silent, dragging the soaked body of an American flag back to one day of our life, an uneventful day in the brownish water of the Rice River: July 27, 2015. The sky seems to frown, covering the scene with a handful of clouds as the day goes on. In front of the artist, beyond the two banks covered with trees, is the illusory point where the small river hands over his entire body of water to the bigger, Mississippi brother.
Even cut in two parts, the flag is heavy. Simone is a frail woman already carrying eight decades and the strongest figure at the same time: she is a vessel of freedom. For one day, the flag is her personal companion. It floats under the surface like a lover who invites her to lie down on her his its chest and close her eyes, to feel their new and welcomed union. “Myths are the soul of our actions and love.” (Paul Valéry). A soaked flag is much closer to human heaviness, to the liquid chemistry of our brain and blood. As Simone embraces the fabric, holds it underwater maybe sharing with the flag the impression they can both be deaf and blind for a moment, a million of unwritten stories, around that summer day, have vanished in the thin air. The real bodies rocked by the waves as many plankton forms, have been absorbed into the fabric. They were bodies searching for freedom.
“Rivers are roads that walk and bring us where we want to go.” (Blaise Pascal) The stars on the flag drive Simone’s eyes to the sky, the stripes drip down like blood. Simone is withdrawn, perhaps moving away from the sharpness of the news, sometimes they sound like bullets. Her body in movement is a fullness of feelings channelled into a slow motion physical language, which does almost savor the quality of each gesture. A horse appears on the bank, bringing Roland Barthes, the prince of subtleties. Both horse and chevalier stop and look at Simone. “That’s the real pleasure, the moment in which my body will follow its own ideas — for my body has ideas different from my owns.” And puff! he disappears.
Simone doesn’t see the intruders. Completely absorbed as she is into the secret effort of bringing back the symbol of freedom, the national dress of her country to human actions and love. Out of the water, she folds the fabric with care, always keeping the bundle pressed on her breast. Then, for no particular reasons, she picks up a burned stick from the floor and traces a few lines on the double, wet flag.
For memory and art now, in the caves, naked feet on the ground.