Between The Lines : AIMEE GARCIA

CUBA – AIMEE GARCIA’s SUPREMATIST SPEECH – LOS ANGELES

 Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Cuerdas, 2016, Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Cuerdas, 2016, Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas, 22″ x 33″
Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

cuerdas, lectura, alas – strings, reading, wings

By Rosanna Albertini

Put the title in your mouth. Strings, reading, wings : a bird screeching, in anger or pain. The wind is stronger, faster than his flight. The bird doesn’t stop, resting doesn’t fit his American temper. Try the Spanish mouth. Cuerdas, lectura, alas. Words that bring a feeling of  whiteness, calm. A large page with no resistance waits for history to be forgotten.

Aimee, the artist’s name, melts the two sounds into one. In my Italian mouth, Aimee is a silent moan that doesn’t slip into the throat. It doesn’t need voice.

In her Cuban isolation, Aimee Garcia has transformed in art flowers of intelligence, never complaining. I could see myself in her collages, or any of the humans living on earth. We are all shredded by the same storm. Really the past could teach? As languages, politics, internet, financial games, advertisements tie our lives into the same bundle of voices fighting for primacy, believing takes the place of the dirty window we look through. We don’t know what we really know.

So I thank Aimee for her suprematist speech which is a portrait of us all like flies tangled in the news’ spiderweb. But her images also are, strongly and gracefully, the portrait of a possible flight out, a non-objective getting away from the written reality toward secret, inner transformations. Between the lines, the artist. Very much like Simone Forti who reads the news only noticing and remembering them as they slip into emotions, digging ponds in her heart.
(See Flag in The Water, https://albertini2014.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/flag-in-the-water/)

AIMEE GARCIA, Lectura 2016, Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Lectura, 2016, Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas, 31″ x 24″
Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

Aimee’s speech is made with colors and embroidered into the paper. She is threading herself, and looking at us from behind the cuerdas : her hand works like a cursor: ploughing into words, while sowing that “primacy of pure feelings” that Kasimir Malevich called SUPREMATISM about one hundred years ago. “The visual phenomena of the objective world are, in themselves, meaningless; the significant thing is feeling; as such, quite apart from the environment in which it is called forth.” (KM) When she reads, Aimee visits her own mental field that is not necessarily the same as Cubans’ or, as far as I don’t know, a simple acceptance of a theory married to Russian revolution as if both, ideas and political upheavals, were a block sculpted by time instead of myriads of crumbs and broken steps.

AIMEE GARCIA, Suprematist Speech, 2015, laminated collaged newspapers, threads Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Suprematist Speech, 2015, Laminated collaged newspapers, thread 15″ x 12″
Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

And yet, I believe that Aimee recalling the old suprematist credo right now, the old regime facing the last days, finds a personal way of telling that a past life is in her hair, her skin, her face and in her mind. Up to us to read the change, to try her wings.

Life doesn’t disappear mutating in nothing. Automation devours objects, suits, furnitures, the wife and the fear of war.
If the very complex life of many goes away and we are not conscious it is gone, then it’s like if it had never existed.
Here we are, in order to bring back the meaning of life, to “feel” the objects, to see that a stone is stony, we have what we call ART. … a way to feel how the object becomes something else. The already done doesn’t matter.
VIKTOR SHKLOVSKY*

AIMEE GARCIA, Resistencia I, 2019, oil on canvas, 24" x 28" Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Resistencia I, 2009, oil on canvas, 24″ x 28″
Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

This is a flower painted by Aimee Garcia : Resistencia I, 2009. It is the last moment of beauty before the petals wither. Natural beings are lucky, they fall apart, molecules. Ever heard of a ghost flower? History takes a longer time to disappear, but in the end it does, ghost and monuments, forever. Art is for now.
If the object survives, the same doesn’t happen to its meanings : meanings are parasites of the living.

…just this way just this one time. Incidentally, we human beings also belong in part to this class of unique events.
ROBERT MUSIL**

AIMEE GARCIA, Alas, 2015 Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Alas, 2015 Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas, 22″ x 33″
Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

*Viktor Shklovsky, Theory of Prose, 1929, English translation 1990 by Benjamin Sher. Dalkey Archive Press, Illinois State University, 1991.

** Robert Musil, Precision and  Soul, originally in Gesammelte Werke edited by Adolph Frisé, 1978. Edited and translated by by Burton Pike and David S. Luft, The University of Chicago Press, 1990.

 

KATE NEWBY: don’t be all scared like before

KATE NEWBY, Don’t be all scared like before
Rope, 2015
38 Ludlow St., New York

15

THE ROPE THAT LOST her tension BUT FOUND HER ARTIST

by Rosanna Albertini

38 Ludlow street, New York. I must raise my chin and eyes toward the top of the wire screen to see the rope, and follow the vertical face of the building to the last floor, which is frowning behind the red, incongruous, and irregular line: a red rope, again, from one side to the other of a flat modern face riddled with window holes.

One would think the residents inside would spend their energy glued to the glass, stuck like flies that can’t find their way out. The red rope grabs the side corners of the building tightly. It is there to stay for a while. A perfect parasite and a rebel form in which secret meanings are fastened: that fat bundle around the pole is as unreadable as the Chinese ideograms painted on a nearby banner. (Unreadable if one is not Chinese.) How absurd! But, I need it more than a dictionary. The garbage bags on the sidewalk and the cracks of the wall are easy, life cycle. Not the rope.

L38_NaturalFlavor_05

L38_NaturalFlavor_07

L38_NaturalFlavor_01

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Richard Tuttle* wrote:
IT’S THE COLORS INSIDE THE COLORS THAT ARE TOUCHING, THE MEANINGS INSIDE THE MEANINGS.

(HOW TO HANDLE THE ART WITH GLOVES OFF)

Watch out, even these artist’s thoughts, written in capital fonts, look like the modern building. They wrap my mind like a blanket. Get rid of it. There is a strange gap between me and my mind, still conservative. Kick it out, says my instinct. Out of the window? Yes, stop looking and jump. Kate Newby, where are you? I do know the red rope is your soul.

There are mostly Chinese children in the P.S. 42 Benjamin Altman school, 38 Ludlow Street. They like the red, it’s good luck color. They love the rope without knowing why, lucky them. They are confused. “What’s your job?” they ask the artist. And Kate tells them she moves from one country to another making forms and colors she can leave on the ground, or on the top of a building, so they become moments of other people’s lives, as footprints after footprints many other humans also leave their traces on the ground.

I’m flying out of the window. The red rope sounds like a musical instrument changing form at each loop, bending, stretching out. The artist is the player. The red of the bricks sends iron vibes toward the rope, one more voice in the visual music of city. And Rembrandt says hello through Benjamin Altman’s spirit who collected his portraits, so densely red. Meanings? Maybe. Or the simple evidence that art brings into the air: the evidence that children can only see as a mystery with no answer: what’s life? Not only children, for that matter. But they are inside the school, to be trained for life.

Looking at the red rope, they gasp. It’s impressive to look at something that unfolds, without words, the whole messy but strong and obstinate line between birth and the last breath. Perhaps the only case in which beginning and ending make sense. My legs disappear, wings grow from my shoulder blades, I am an owl searching for a palm tree to spend the night.  

Meanwhile teacher and kids paint red lines inside the school, at the angle where the wall meets the floor. Magically, a small palm tree starts growing from one of the new red lines.

IMPERFECTIONS BECOME VIRTUES

IN THAT RARE MOMENT WHEN SOMETHING REPRESENTS NOTHING, BECOMING ITSELF**

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  •  ***Richard Tuttle, In Parts, 1998-2001, catalogue of the exhibition at Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsiylvania, Philadelphia, Dec.2001 – Feb. 2002.

Lucie Fontaine and Laurel Doody: elective cousins?

LUCIE FONTAINE and LAUREL DOODY: elective cousins?

―a two left-hands story―

Fiona Connor and Rosanna Albertini presenting a Laurel Doody/Lucie Fontaine collaborative gesture. Photo:

Fiona Connor and Rosanna Albertini presenting a Laurel Doody/Lucie Fontaine collaborative gesture.
Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

637 South Cloverdale Ave. Unit 7, Los Angeles CA 90036

By LF & LD

Laurel Doody and Lucie Fontaine* met for the first time in July 2015. Likely, also the only time, unless the future brings a comet, who knows? The French cousin had already spread her exhibitions for about eight years in many countries when the American cousin opened the door of a not commercial art gallery in April 2015: a collective collaboration between artist Fiona Connor and New Zealand birds who sometimes wore American feathers, and other scattered migrants involved in Los Angeles contemporary arts: artists, friends, writers, gallerists, curators. Span of life: one year.

The art gallery was named Laurel Doody after a woman Fiona Connor had met in Seattle when she was a child, same age as her mother. Laurel Doody as an art space shares many of that person attributes: she is a warm, great host, a little bit naughty, and always makes you feel you are the center of her world.

LF visited LD during a dinner held for Keaton Macon’s first solo exhibition: a small library of audio tapes each containing an hour of sounds for each day of the artist’s year. The table was improvised over some of the art shelves beneath the tablecloth, and a variety of chairs. The dinner was Italian style. The thick, large head of a ficus tree out of the window seemed to isolate the room from the blindness of common sense.

Inside, art and humans did not need to prove their minds right or wrong. There was only pleasure of being there with no competitive peaks: ideas, food and kindness passing through mouths and eyes; some drew portraits, Fiona pinned them on the wall. It sounds odd to call it generosity, but that’s what it was. Roots coming from there grow unexpected branches. There is sophistication in this story, and yet softness, plus a wish of movement and transformation, of sharing and crossing geographic and cultural boundaries.

To tie a knot of friendship, more than collaboration, almost a Maori sharing of breath, Lucie Fontaine offered to Laurel Doody the present of a double art piece from the first LF exhibition in Los Angeles in 2013: a small half pear and a small half apple: a unit that is the exquisite fruit of an artist’s tree, and the hazardous existence of any marriage.

*www.luciefontaine.com

Fiona Connor and Rosanna Albertini presenting a Laurel Doody/Lucie Fontaine collaborative gesture.

Fiona Connor and Rosanna Albertini presenting a Laurel Doody/Lucie Fontaine collaborative gesture. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

 

WALKING THE LINE BETWEEN PEACE AND WAR

WALKING THE LINE BETWEEN PEACE AND WAR

“All the matter and difficulty of being alive in a place of peace and a place of war.”

Sebastian Barry*

A note by the editor.
John Eden’s art is human life condensed in forms as clean as an ideal. And the light they reflect will never depart. Eternity is the challenge of any art. My blog’s reality is the opposite: based on moments, moods, displacements, coincidences, it “traces and contains something unruly, energetic, improbable.” My friend Fiona Connor just sent me these words about her most recent art piece. They also work for The Kite. I would only add that the tail of my Kite has become a long string of collaborations, fragments recalling each other. They often oddly crack like pomegranates and the red bloody juice of an artist melts into the veins of another artist. There is no explanation, my gratitude is the glue. RA

 

CAPTAIN OF MY SOUL

By John Eden

JOHN EDEN, Vietnam,

JOHN EDEN, Vietnam 1950-1962 (Fuselage & Wing), from the Roundel (Military Aircraft Insignias) Series 2013. Automotive metal flake paint on a 28″ diameter fiberglass disc. Courtesy of the artist.

 At the end of WWII, my father accompanied the first group of American scientists into Hiroshima just days after the atomic bomb blast to measure that city’s unimaginable devastation, seeing firsthand, the burn victims and the phantom human forms that were seared onto its city walls. Similar to what I saw displayed secondhand, thirty-five years later when I visited Hiroshima’s Peace Museum at ground zero.

Like Saving Private Ryan, my mother’s oldest brother waded onto France’s bloodstained Omaha Beach during the Normandy invasion as a ‘replacement soldier’ and then fought his way throughout Western Europe. He said that he walked all the way to Germany with a M-1 rifle in his hand.

He’s gone now, but every time he tried to talk about those horrific experiences (the smells & images), he would choke up and say something like ‘I’m no hero, I was lucky, and that’s all. The ones who didn’t make it are the real heroes and I can’t get those ghosts out of my head. I just tried to stay alive.’ He believed his success in staying alive grew out of his boyhood hunting experiences that might appear counter-intuitive. His Oklahoma country-boy father taught him to always target the animals that were bunched together, because the odds of ‘bagging your dinner’ were mathematically higher. He figured that German soldier would have learned the same basic hunting skills, so his thoughts were always to ‘stay apart and not to bunch up.’

To Examine Critically: Stay Apart, Don’t Bunch Up and Question Everything

To observe, to live inside oneself, apart and separate; it’s what I believe writers and artists need to do, and that has been my calling for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a small Southern California town that skirts the extreme northern fringes of the San Fernando Valley, just north of where the Interstates 5 and 14 meet. The Newhall-Saugus area has now been eclipsed by major development projects within the Santa Clarita Valley and the art world knows it as the unlikely location for Cal Arts. It had been a quiet farming community until the never-ending real estate boom that started there in earnest in the mid ‘40s, but during my early childhood it was still mostly open farmland surrounded by hills that were riddled with mining caves dug by Chinese migrants searching for their American dream.

JOHN EDEN, Black-Hole

JOHN EDEN, Black Sphere AKA The Black Hole, 2011-2012. From the Sightless Installation Series, slate black nickel plated SLA Epoxy resin, steel and glass, 54.25″ x 12″ x 12.” Courtesy of the artist.

Escape, Escape, Escape

Up until the age of 16, most of my weekends were spent exploring our valley’s arid surrounds, but with a driver’s license, wheels and a few bucks for gas my life changed forever. Roads out to the city and the beach became El Camino Real, points of teenage interests connected together by circuitous routes washed down, first with bland AM radio that soon gave way to Madman Muntz’s audio tape cartridge players that poured out more dangerous FM album sounds by The Animals, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones at will, and like Kerouac, I was ‘On The Road,’ moving forward and yet compulsively glancing backwards too.

JOHN EDEN, Eye for an Eye,

JOHN EDEN, Eye To Eye, 2010. Glass eye, red enamel and lacquered aluminum, 1″ x 1″ x 3.625.” Courtesy of the artist.

If I were asked what defining moments in my formative years put me on the road less-traveled, I would have to say it was the archery accident that took place when I was twelve and my time spent in the U. S. Air Force during the Vietnam war.

I had been given an archery set for Christmas and during the following holiday weeks I would spend most of my time roaming ‘Indian-style’ around a nearby dry riverbed that snaked its way through our valley mostly shooting at imaginary targets. My mother’s family connection with Eastern Oklahoma’s Choctaw tribe has instilled a lifelong interest in Native American culture and at age twelve I was all about being Ishi, ‘the last wild Indian’ in America.

On one occasion an older neighbor boy came along hoping to try archery for the first time. Early on, he suggested we play a game where the boy holding the bow would yell ‘look out’ and the other boy would duck down to let the shooter fire the arrow over his head at an imaginary bad guy. The major problem with that suggestion, besides just being a really bad idea, was that neither one of us were skilled enough with the bow to perform the maneuverer safely.

It was my bow; therefore I went first, after yelling the warning he ducked as planned, so I pulled back the arrow to release, but the arrow’s tip fell off my bow hand. I had to reset the arrow and go again. In the confusion, he must have thought that I had already released the arrow, because he stood up just as I let go of the shaft, it thrusting point blank into his eye. His doctor said later that he was ‘lucky to be alive,’ but having lost one eye, he would go through life visually impaired, with no depth perception.

From that moment on, I carried the hidden indelible stain of that boy holding his bloody hand over his punctured eye, permanently etched into my mind’s eye and all the gut-wrenching anguish associated with doing such a terrible thing. There was nothing I could do or say that would undo the pain and damage that I had caused him and his family. Looking back, I’m sure we both suffered from PTSD syndrome, but at the time, therapy for such things were nonexistent. This traumatic experience made me a natural pacifist, not wanting any more virulent images in my head, like the ones I knew my uncles and father brought back from World War II. Perhaps, they were heroes —I knew, I was not.

JOHN EDEN, I Walk the Line

JOHN EDEN, I Walk the Line, 2014. Photo collage. Courtesy of the artist.

Will we be heroes of our own lives, or will we merely be swept along by our own particular circumstances?

That to me is the primary question that I had to come to terms with. We can’t control what life throws at us, but we can control how we respond to those adversities. During the Vietnam War, all young men of draft age had to register with the Selective Service for possible military duty selection. Some made the decision to evade the draft and others were granted various deferments thereby avoiding military service all together.

Shortly after graduating high school, my father suggested I join the Air Force to avoid being drafted into the Army or Marines, which certainly meant fighting in Vietnam. Having taken an Aviation Science class in school that stoked my interest in flight, I mistakenly assumed that by enlisting in the Air Force proactively, I would be trained in a non-combative air support role with skills that could be used later in civilian life. But like my ‘Auld Da,’ Murphy’s Law mandated that my initial duty was to be a Military Air Policeman.

My first stateside assignment was to guard SR-71 Spy Planes and the B52 Strategic Air Command long-range bombers. These B52 aircraft were somewhere in the air over the United States 24/7, armed with nuclear bombs and were missioned to destroy whole cities in the case of a nuclear war. This policy was known as Mutually Assured Destruction (or M.A.D.). Before being cross-trained into my final job as a base photographer, I walked a mosquito-ridden flight line in the rice-paddies of Northern California as an M-16 toting “AP” waiting to be cycled on through to Vietnam while guarding those deceptively beautiful nuclear-armed aircraft, all when the end of the world seemed so palpable and real.

JOHN EDEN, India 1943-1945,

JOHN EDEN, India 1943-1945, (Fuselage & Wings), from the Roundel (Military Aircraft Insignias) Series, 2015.  Metal flake paint on fiberglass disc, 46″ x 46″ x 12.” Courtesy of the artist.

Breakdown And Conversion
Working the nightshift on the flight line was grueling; exposure to the elements for 8-hour shifts took their toll, especially on cold winter nights. I kept wondering about which city the aircraft I was guarding was designated to target. I was haunted by what the devastation might look like and if I was in any way culpable. On one hand, I was not a fan of anti-democratic hegemonies around the world, but conversely, I really hated how our politicians and their military counterparts allowed so many of our young soldiers to die without any long-term goals or endgame plans in mind. It all seemed so unconscionable.

My fear of becoming part of some dark historical event was looming large and my psyche was compelled to push back by way of exhibiting extremely erratic behavior on the flight line in a nuclear weapon zone. The behavior was noticed, a breakdown really, and I was sent to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation. Truly, I could have just gone along with the program, but I sensed it would have been the end of me, as I was.

I was diagnosed with manic-depressive tendencies, but not severe enough to be discharged. It was then, that I was cross-trained into photography and my future path was clear. I think I had learned from my archery accident a micro truth: if something feels wrong, don’t give into the impulse to go along just to get along. More recently, a macro truism has presented itself: one generation’s truths do not necessarily transfer on to the next.

JOHN EDEN, Nor are we afraid

JOHN EDEN, Nor Are We Afraid, 2009-2010. Three primary colors cast resin skulls with acrylic pedestal, from the Memento Mori Series, each skull is 6.5″ x 5.125″ x 9.5.” Courtesy of the artist.

  • Sebastian Barry, A Long Long Way, Penguin Books, 2005

NUCLEAR EPHEMERA

“Kim Jong-un announced via state TV Korea is ready to fire its nuclear weapons. The threat was a response to new UN sanctions announced this week against his region.” The Guardian, Friday, March 4, 2016.

A  LETTER  from  HARRY GAMBOA Jr.

Los Angeles, March 5, at 8.32 AM

Dear All,

I recall being a young boy in the 50’s when the sky lit up one evening.

The birds sang briefly then silence rang out without a peep.

Nuke testing was the rage for more than a decade with more than 1,000 nuclear devices being detonated not too far away from L.A.

The notion of Mutually Assured Destruction wasn’t very assuring but certainly put the seal of excellence on the notion of existential angst.

Being born into the atomic age was a mixed blessing of fallout, smog, and a million years of genetic memory.

21st Century playthings are what made up horrific nightmares in the minds of previous generations.

Post-existentialist nihilism is portrayed as the newest fad.

Social cannibalism and all manner of auto destructive practices fill whatever air that is left to breathe.

Freakish beings are devoid of soul and they are ever ready to launch all out war.

We all share ground zero.

Enjoy each day as though there will be no tomorrow.

                                                                                                                                      Harry

6thStBridge27feb16EMAIL
The Sixth Expanse (Action 11)   © 2016, Harry Gamboa Jr.

performers
l-r:
Luis A. Vega
Donna Brown
Christopher Velasco
Gerard Meraz
Benjamin Quiñones
Sofia Canales
Barbie Gamboa
Harry Ortíz Liflan

Virtual Vérité

Harry’s letter was written in response to a message from Felipe Ehrenberg  sent on Friday, March 4, 2016 at 8:06 PM. Felipes’ questions:

“The USA has nuclear weapons, right?
And you guys have them as a deterrent against whoever you think are your enemies may be at any given moment, right?
So who’s to say other countries can´t have the same weapons for the same reasons, especially if they sense the USA will use them whenever the feel like doing so?”

INDIA: Images of Silence and Light

January – February 2016

A SPECIAL REPORT 

TEXT and IMAGES by BIANCA SFORNI

(All the photographs: © Bianca Sforni)

INDIA 2016-

Le Corbusier Watch at Mill's Owners Assiciation, Ahmedabad

Le Corbusier, Clock at Mill Owners Association, Ahmedabad

INDIA 2016-
As soon as the British stopped playing games in the Indian subcontinent  Le Corbusier clocks started to turn at the Mill Owners Association Building in Ahmedabad, it is 1954.

The Mill Owners Building is the first of four completed commissions by Le Corbusier in the city. Ahmedabad? You may dream about Arabian Nights but it is the sixth largest city in India and a wealthy one. The Sabarmati river no longer kisses the Gandhi Ashram and concrete walls separate the water from the ghats.* No longer the precarious encampments made by nomadic tribes out of mud and clay occupying the riverbed in the dry season are to be seen here. Just as if they had been washed away forever:  modernization is a very powerful monsoon. As well, no more spinning wheels’ subtle noise, no more bleating from the herds and no more discussions between Gandhi and his wife Kasturba, but the carefully designed Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Museum, planned by the master architect Charles Correa in 1963, stands in for them. Home of the ideology that set India free, a very moving place.

* steps leading to the water.

An iconic image of Gandhi found at the Mill Owners Association. Background, Morak stone paneling:

INDIA 2016-
The decade following 1947 independence is punctuated by the will of a nation to represent the new democratic state in fieri, and modern structures are conceived. Thanks to Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, Louis Khan is consulted and he conceives the domicile of IIM (Indian Institute of Management).
‘’In Absolute Glory, as the order is respected.” Walls of red bricks folding the space around a symbolic central piazza. An arched ceiling covering an elevated corridor makes you think you are ambling through a city of the Renaissance: not far from Milano, Vigevano, where Leonardo da Vinci was designing under the Sforza.

IIM-INDIA 2016F-BS-1_2016_IIM-student-quarters-detail Classic and immaculate. Louis Kahn, detail from IIM, 1962

The aim was to enable future generations to operate in the new born India: it is still happening, as the IIM is considered today India’s best business school. IIM, a modern construction looking old, bricks eaten away by humidity and sun. The sand of Gujarat used for the bricks contains salt, the same salt covering the soil of the nearby Kutch region, through which Gandhi marched with his followers. Salt makes it a challenge to preserve and maintain this magic place, simple in its design, classic and monumental.

Louis Khan’s architecture is about light. In his own words : “Material is spent light: The mountain, the earth, the stream, the air and the wind are spent light.” Matter is burned light, fire. “A wild dance of flames that settles is felt as material.”

You talk about fire and here it is. All over India. The rays burning our pale skin are worshipped by the Hindus as Surya, the God sun.  Many temples have been erected in his honor for thousands of years. A very ancient practice. The sun that gives us light and life. After that, the atomic bomb.

A mysterious shrine or symbolic offering to the gods found on a pic of the Aravalli mountains:

misterious shrine or simbolic offering to the gods found on a pic of the Aravalli mountains

INDIA 2016-

 Banjara : Fragment of Gala Head Covers, circa 1900- 1930. Abstract geometric patterns reflect landscape and nature.

Banjara or Vanjai means trader in Sanskrit. They were merchants and carriers of grain and salt and traveled the lands of Central India, the Deccan and Western India. From the dry plateau of Northwestern India these ancient traders of grain, dates, salt and coconuts went as far as Spain. It was around one thousand years ago when the migration started … the Roma … wanderers, not easily compatible with European order and laws in the present day.

The Roma are the descendant of those Indian traders and share the same language. Their language is also like the one spoken by the people who settled in the valleys of the Swiss Alps: Romaji. Their life in today’s India, indeed, is not easier: in the state of Rajasthan and Maharashtra they are in the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category. It all started during the 18th Century: the British colonial authorities placed the community under the bounds of the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871. This act restrained the movements of the Banjara people.
While the history of human beings is defined by migrations and wanderings, borders designate countries. Visas and permissions where required, during this trip, to continue the exploration of the sub-Indian continent and to visit high security and ritual places. Our destination was Shere-bangla-nagar, the masterfully designed home with gardens built like a fortress by Louis Khan as a miracle on a lake. What a grand one. While the Assembly building is created in concrete, the residential buildings are conceived in exposed red brick.

Shere-bangla-nagar by Louis Kahn:

INDIA 2016-Dhaka

INDIA 2016-Dhaka
PAPER TIGER INDIA 2016

INDIA 2016-Dhaka

INDIA 2016-Dhaka

shere-bangla-nagar

INDIA 2016-Dhaka

INDIA 2016-Dhaka

Dhaka-2016

The miracle started in 1963, the first time Louis Khan landed in Dhaka, on the delta of the Ganga river.  It was the first of his numerous exhausting and exciting visits to the site, as those years where marked by turmoil, military coups, ethnic and linguistic discrimination and by civil disobedience. Dhaka will become the capital of Bangladesh in 1971.
Shere-bangla-nagar was realized, thanks to the will of Khan’s first trained Bengali pupil, an architect and a powerful nature, Muzharul Islam, the son of a mathematician. But only in 1992 were the sessions of the parliament held in the new building.

What took an American architect there? The answer is Art. This what I think. Maybe also politics, but Shere-bangla-nagar, the capital complex of the Bangladesh National Assembly, with its Assembly Building, a Prayer Hall (facing west) and the living quarters for the administration people, is fiercely standing under the tropical sun as evidence of an heroic deed of a nation and of an architect. A Rare thing.
Louis Kahn worked on it from 1963 to 1974. Built like a fortified citadel, this is also his last, grand project. On March 17, 1974, Louis Kahn was found dead in Penn Station, New York City, on his way back from India.

deckel-edge-Tiger

WAR IN THE EYES


Northern Italy 1943-45

Uncle and Niece: ROSANNA and ALBERTO ALBERTINI

HUMAN EYES AND THE EYE OF A CAMERA

A Panzer IV of the Waffen SS "Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler" division in Milan, Piazza del Duomo, immediately after the German occupation that followed the September 8, 1943 armistice

A Panzer IV of the Waffen SS “Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler” division in Milan, Piazza del Duomo, immediately after the German occupation that followed the September 8, 1943 armistice. (Wikipedia)

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Rosanna Albertini (niece) – I was born in the new days without war in an Italian village near Milano, and grew up with stories that nobody was able to forget so they were told over and over like an exorcism. For two years, before my living time began, the space between Milano and the Swiss border was a confused arena of bombing and killings. Large numbers of people were filling the streets, especially in Milan, manifesting collective feelings, raising their heads against military occupation and lack of jobs and food shortage.  To see the end of fascism in person was a way to become witnesses, to be sure there was an ending to bring home.

September 8, 1943, after the armistice, Milano was occupied by the German army.
April 25, 1944, under the directions of the partisan command of Northern Italy, Milan was liberated.
April 28,1945, Mussolini was arrested and killed. His collaborators had the same destiny.

I was an outcome of the war. By hope or by accident, I will never know. The doctor taking care of my mother’s pregnancy lived by the lake. Mother was eighteen. In no way our transportation could be safe: they still used horses and carts in December 1945: the horse was old, maybe the driver was drunk and the steep road toward the lake covered with ice. Despite the fact that details about the accident have been steadily hidden from me, I do know that I did do the first somersault of my life. I did not break from her body that day as the terrified members of my family expected. Christmas was approaching, I stayed warm where I was until the 28.

Alberto Albertini (my uncle) – In the early 1944, the dying regime tried to save little pockets of power. Placing blockades near the borders, for instance. Besano, our village, was four miles on a steep road up from Porto Ceresio, where the Swiss border starts, and the blockage was mid-way between the two villages. Because Besano’s city hall was in Porto Ceresio, to go to Porto we had to show a permit with identity photo. As I was the only one in the village doing photographs, I did portraits of everybody. I only saved a few of them. A curious thing: the blockage controllers were a special auxiliary police whose members, on April 25, merged into the partisan forces, as if such a decision were normal.
        The same happened with the customs officers. I was supposed to enlist with them exactly for this reason. I never did, the X hour struck. On the way home from Milan, I had to wait for the night to find a train. But I also wished for a lift from some truck. There was none. Not far from me, a bunch of young black shirts was hanging about. One of them was my age. I basically told him: ‘What a heck are you doing wearing a fascist uniform that is now against the law, when the war is lost and everything is falling apart? And the guy felt smart enough to tell me that his name was Felice Mascetti and he was happy (Felice) by name and by fact… when one has an idea! Comic and tragic facts followed. The guy was from Varese, he had tried to score with my girlfriend (I learned it when the news appeared) and died in a small fight against the partisans. The corps of fascism, already decayed, enlisted young and very young boys who might feel proud of themselves thanks to weapons and uniforms.

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Technological war-craft: making the camera for portraits.

For lack of money and tools Alberto adapted 35mm film to a 6×9 camera, borrowing parts from a cheap Ferrania.

  1. he added a plate adaptor, as if the 6×9 camera were a plate camera.
  2. made a 35mm drive in the Ferrania and a piece of wood pressing on the film to keep it in the right position.
  3. Then he made by hand a small, indented wooden spool connected to a spring, so that at every perforation he could hear a ‘tac’ while rolling the film.

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Post scriptum by RA

It is difficult to read those eyes. They drank the war darkness and maybe kept looking at the bottom of their glass. What do they bring to me, to us, in 2016? Do I see their pain because they are my tribe, from the village where I was born? Is this the same pain of all those who survived years of war? In Palestine, in Africa, in Afghanistan? Is ours a completely different time? There is a layer of photographic or filmic splendor in the war images we share  today. Even a video recently made by a Palestinian girl about life in her refugee camp in Jordan is just beautiful. Images versus reality? The homeless’ eyes around me in Los Angeles are not as desperate as my people’s. I don’t have an answer. A vague sense of real things in my guts tells me that the war eyes are still like the ones in the identity portraits made by Alberto. We don’t see them in the newspapers. Maybe we like better not to see them, to keep them out of our walls. More than ever we need artists, hands showing the real thing, creating a new visual grammar, and new words, tearing off the lies of illusions. 

The greenness of night lies on the page and goes
Down deeply in the empty glass. . .

Look, realist, not knowing what you expect.
The green falls on you as you look,

Falls on and makes and gives, even a speech.
And you think that that is what you expect,

That elemental parent, the green night,
Teaching a husky alphabet.

WALLACE STEVENS, Phosphor Reading by his Own Light – From: Parts of a World, 1942-1951
in Wallace Stevens, The Collected Poems, New York, Vintage Books, 1990.

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Alberto Albertini using the camera he had built for the identity portraits.