BEAUTY AS A LIVING FORCE N.2

BIRDS FOR A WHILE   by Rosanna Albertini

 

Images by JEAN-LOUIS GARNELL 

 

“Like the Druzes, like the moon, like death, like next week, the distant past forms part of those things that can be enriched by ignorance. It is infinitely supple and yielding; it offers itself to us much more than the future and poses fewer problems. One knows, moreover, that it is the chosen spot of mythology.”   Jorge Luis Borges

 

THE DAY THAT TIME GOT LOST AND FOUND

Lines and a six foot distance to buy bread, salad, whatever. Like flocks of birds? We move as a bunch, as if obeying, to whom is not important. Birds do better when they fly away from a power line, all together, and draw regular, movable forms in the sky. They migrate and cover continents of distance. They seem to know where they go. We didn’t move for about three months, and don’t know anymore where the future goes. Bipeds without wings.    

Do you think birds have a sense of time? ‘Just the difference between day and night,’ Peter answers. ‘Do you know what day it is?’ he asks me. ‘I am not sure, I thought it was Saturday. No, it is Wednesday.’ I am nailed to a wish of coordinates as empty as the page of a calendar. 

Printemps 2020 VUES n. 1   67 x 100 cm, © JEAN-LOUIS GARNELL

Printemps 2020 VUES n.2   67 x 100 cm © JEAN-LOUIS GARNELL

Printemps 2020 VUES n.3  67 x 100 cm ©JEAN-LOUIS GARNELL

Printemps 2020 VUES n.4 67 x 100 cm ©JEAN-LOUIS GARNELL

Printemps 2020 VUES n.5 67 x 100 cm ©JEAN-LOUIS GARNELL

         

Maybe I’m becoming free from counting and squeezing into an infinite grid of little windows the pleasure of looking at the sky, following the clouds, or smelling a peach. Imaginary volumes of time become hurdles, and I jump and jump to keep the schedule in order. Time? We make it, paint it, frame it, only to end up with a strange deception: I don’t have time!  And my watch has disappeared.

Like my ancestors from the Renaissance, I keep dearly in mind the illusion that, when I think, I touch something despite the distance. As my mind saves the immediate sensations of walking, or stroking my ankles disturbed by neuropathy, a careful register of my aging, she saves as well past sensations I hide somewhere, maybe behind my ears. For no reason my hands search through a pile of dusty papers I saved for decades. At the very end, underneath photocopies and magazines, a page cut from a newspaper appears, spiteful like a squirrel: the first important long article I wrote in Italy about contemporary art. I could write about the light going dim at the end of the day and the shadows stroking my yellowish piece of paper, but I don’t. Virginia did it in such a sublime way that I can just keep my words clean and poor. Without thinking, I decide to scan the article, frame it and put it on the wall. 

Tiptoing and creeping up from the marsh of the old habits sinking underwater, time comes back: it is a body of eight minutes and forty-six seconds, the time Floyd was deprived of life nine days ago. An online chain of messages offers the idea of a peaceful action, at home. “All we need to do is to go outdoors (rooftop, front yard, back yard, street, any place outdoors) and turn on a flashlight, or emergency light, and point it to the sky for exactly 8 min and 46 seconds starting at exactly 9:oo pm.” The full moon kept her face modestly behind the fog. Our lights hit the top of the palms. Floyd’s death felt as a long, very long time.

Back in the house I put the article on the wall, and saw my lost watch.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Borges, a Reader, Edited by Emir Rodriguez Monegal & Alastair Reid, New York, E. P. Dutton, 1981

BEAUTY AS A LIVING FORCE N.1

IMAGES by YVES TREMORIN

The artist took a picture every day during his home isolation, and sent them by e-mail to his friends.

SPRINGTIME  by Rosanna Albertini

“This is a time when it is frightening to be alive, when it is hard to think of human beings as rational creatures. Everywhere we look we see brutality, stupidity, until it seems that there is nothing else to be seen but that—a descent into barbarism, everywhere, which we are unable to check. But I think that while it is true there is a general worsening, it is precisely because things are so frightening we become hypnotized, and do not notice—or if we notice, belittle—equally strong forces on the other side, the forces, in short, of reason, sanity and civilization. … We have the ability to observe ourselves from other viewpoints.” 

 Doris Lessing, Prisons We Choose to Live Inside, 1987

Lessing’s words drove me to the very far past of humankind, when we hardly knew the difference between humans, plants and the other animals. And opening my primitive instincts I saw each written page like a beehive, buzzing and humming movements of words, fonts, and ideas pressing the tools of language, asking to become honey.

reread Doris Lessing outside in the sun after six days of rage, fires, shouting—God undoing his week of creation. Yet the garden is still around me, screaming the beauty of spring. Not very far away, in the city, there is a wave of despair exasperated by the repeated, callous harm of a human to another human. As likely as not, frustration was already simmering before the killing that became a burning stamp into the soul of everyone. Maybe there is more, a sort of irrational response to the artificial, although useful, quiet, imposed on our daily lives in contrast to the virulence of the ronawave.

My honey, today, is the mysterious strength of friendship among humans, my uninterrupted friendship with two French artists that neither distance nor time can scratch: Yves Tremorin and Jean-Louis Garnell.  In this post and the next post the three of us will be together despite the ocean between us, inviting the readers/viewers to our table.

Homer, and Spinoza, are honey for sure. Compared with them, we work at a tiny scale, releasing blood drops. My Milanese friend Silvia’s e-mails regularly changed my spring days. She is a gallerist now, and a mother, a while ago one of my students of philosophy. Her short messages announced: BEAUTY WILL SAVE US. She sent one image of an art piece, and a few lines disclosing her take on it, a personal attachment to that work.  Because Silvia can only reduce her anxiety reading Greek poems and philosophical classics, her words are not about aesthetics, she digs them from within, asking heart, imagination and reason to give us help in this suspended time: “they will listen to us,” she says. I listen to her. 

Her six year old son is more concerned with action, not to say practical decisions. After a long day of online schooling at home, from 8.30am to 4pm, slouched in his chair, or disappearing under the table, or desperately asking for friends, he is finally in bed as his mother reads the Iliad to him. After listening,  “I’ve decided mamma,” he says, “I will offer myself in sacrifice, so the Gods will understand they have to send the virus away.” In a few minutes he will turn into Zorro, looking for a mask. 

Strange to tell, Ed Moses used to paint his abstract pieces with a similar sequence in mind: in 2001 I wrote an imaginary conversation between him and his paintings of that year. “Please forget nature. Thoughts and feelings are my true mine. When I project them onto a physical surface they become God’s fingers awakening dull pieces of matter.” Then mumbling, “God? Let’s say Zorro, he is perhaps a more popular character.” I read this to Ed sitting with him on the bench near his front door, he approved. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Doris Lessing, Prisons We Choose to Live Inside, ©1987 Doris Lessing, New York, Harper & Row, Publishers

Arthur Schnitzler, Relations et Solitudes, Aphorismes, Translation from German by Pierre Deshusses, Paris,  Rivages poche Petite Bibliothèque, 1988

Ernst Cassirer, Individuo e cosmo nella filosofia del Rinascimento, 1927. Translation from German by Federico Federici, Firenze, La Nuova Italia editrice, 1974

Homer,The Iliad, Translated by Robert Fagles, Penguin Books, 1990

Rosanna Albertini, White OwlsArtists I found In Los Angeles 1994-2011, Los Angeles, Oreste & Co. Publishers, 2011