INFINITY FOR A CHEAP PRICE – Alberto Albertini Photographer

L’INFINITO A BUON PREZZO — Alberto Albertini Fotografo

Text by Alberto Albertini edited and translated by Rosanna Albertini

Photographs by Alberto Albertini

Tired color.

By necessity the  color is forced on the canvas. Slithering on the board the brush forces that scant color to stick on it. 

Faded images cooked by a still sun, drawn by weariness or by sublime detachment from the matter. The idea hung to the board, feeble. The color as well is thin not to be heavy on the essence, as if of weariness it could fall down…

Giorgio Morandi in Alberto Albertini’s words. 

—1949—

I PHOTOGRAPH, THEREFORE I AM (by Alberto Albertini)

“What are you going to do with your photographs?” my friend Ralph asked me. I was embarrassed! Never asked myself about it, more disquieting questions did haunt me, the existence of happiness for instance, but not this question, despite some undeniable connections.

Why do I photograph? If I think that human works only exist when brought to the public, I did not make my photos public, does it mean they don’t exist? They exist a little bit, for that complex part of me that needs them: a need! An infinitesimal calculation, a complex equation… meanwhile, once in front of a certain thing you can’t just let her there as if, quitting without taking a photograph, you would let her disappear. As a matter of fact it could happen: if you don’t see her you can’t prove she is still there, it’s only a probability. 

Beside, there’s the desire to possess, to preserve the things you have seen in a form different from memory. They can’t slip out of your eyes anymore. You are perhaps satisfied with the illusion that things are at your disposal so they placate an absolutely vague and useless, although necessary, desire. They enter an unconscious sphere to make it more lively, to fulfill your inability of properly placing the event in a check box that others have but you don’t, a check box that becomes a sort of arbitrary infinity but pleasant and satisfying for a cheap price. “What’s the message, what do you want to say with your photographs?” Nothing at all. The exterior side is there, the photograph! The pleasure of frame, forms, lights, and especially the intimate space, connecting to all the things the unconscious asks for without defining them.

And the click? An instant, and you take possession of what you see and of what escaped from you only to find it again later, when examining the photo. To stop time. My next project starts from here, if I can find the means: to go blindfolded with someone accompanying me to an unknown place and photograph always blindfolded. The problem remains of the arbitrary choice of the place made by the person accompanying me. 

Then e-phones have arrived………………

—1944-1946—

…perche nell’intime mie vene il tuo essere si sarà fuso… NERUDA 

…because in my intimate veins your being will be melted… 

The PC waits for me showing one of the images downloaded in sequence on the desktop. She lies on the grass, her breast swollen with milk, looking afar, not thinking? Her lips almost smiling. She is surrounded by ivy and vine leaves. Maybe there is no house around there, the road, the world. 

Or in this one, her hand covers her forehead to keep the sun far from her eyes. The hair over the right cheek, regular features in her face, she looks afar… Each photograph tries to give a life to my unconscious intimate visions. Here for instance, in a clearing, she walks on a trace of a trail, the sun grazes the branches separating the clusters of leaves, then lighting the meadow and sideswiping her transparent dress, a custom made world like in the following, where she goes down steps made of crumbled stones, a useless stair because the house collapsed.

I look at the floor, a leg of the table, the light switch. I hesitate to go to sleep, I don’t like the unproductive waiting before sleep, and prepare some reasoning to reduce the boredom. Yet when I lie down I see distorted faces of non existing people, sneering monsters changing, replacing one another. Am I still awake? Did I learn how to dream awake?

Always emanation made me curious as a concept and a substance: a bulb emanates light, yes the sun as well, and light seems evident, but what is it? Uranium emanates X-rays, antennas radio waves, but untouchable, impalpable. What’s this stuff traveling through space in the absolute void, yet bringing heat from there! Women also emanate, not smells, even if, they emanate a fluxus, a mysterious perception embracing languid. 

Once more today I got through the balance test: to slip into my pants standing without support, a risk, but I must know.

Like in the photograph under the two birch trees. She sits on a stone bench, the sun traces spots of light on her. She wears a dark periwinkle dress falling on her as if it was liquid, she leans indolently on the tree as if waiting. This other instead brings me back to the darkest time. A beautiful black and white portrait. The eyelids just a little more lifted look at misery, and desperation. That period comes back to me and I live in it again.

Emanation, emanation, the beginning of enchantment: the emotion of the first contact, to be together, woods, landscapes, wind, nature. An emotional storm and later she finds herself with the belly. Deceptive, absurd, it shouldn’t be allowed to cheat like that. I would have separated the two things: to make love now one takes the pill, and to make children there is artificial insemination.

 Why so many photographs?  A desire of possessing maybe, the need to grab the mystery. She sits on a twisted stump among the Fregene pine trees. The sun is low and hits her face frontally, shadows bring out her figure but her expression is hard, thwarted. A double existence? The emanation toward me and her own private that I never could have discovered? Some signs, for sure, outline her personality, yet they are very far from revealing her complete character, her thoughts. I wonder, aware that I can’t answer, what kind of world is swarming in her. Did I believe I was the only one with an inner world? I never shared it, it’s in my solitary nature to keep in my intimate space, but her, in what world did she live? And did she want to share it? An unbridgeable difference could have emerged. A calculator, her projects only came up at the right moment, and at the same time she used to calculate the moves not to disturb her deep indolence that was also an invitation.

Who knows if Leopardi knew that the sparrow’s song from the bell tower wasn’t a pastime, but a sexual call? At the end of the season he would have stopped. Everything is so much slowing down! But yet I would like one more click, and for what? The fan remains over there with open arms, isolated and useless. Some light starts filtering,  while my effort to get up from the armchair is harder than the sun’s effort to raise: reading the paper makes me tired because of my bad vision, or maybe not, my autumn is more advanced than the meteorological one! The doctor prescribes to me eight different medicines, pills, capsules, drops, injections. I refuse. The doctor insists and I reply that at my age I can afford to do it, somebody enters, who? It was a dream. I believe I would do it for real. 

Cati let me kiss her for 100 daisies but she was eleven and I thirteen. Rossana, years later rumors spread she was a nymphomaniac and committed suicide. Lulli, about her too people said she took her life in Merano. Fiorella was my secretary in the seventies; a hematoma in her brain left her disabled.

The rain stopped, what a quiet, I’m almost going to sleep. I looked for, but I can’t find it anymore, the goodby note by Giovanna. I knew where it was for a long time, then… it followed me all my life. We were only fourteen, what did we know? What did I know, for Giovanna knew it and wrote it: will you forget me? Victim of the macho culture at that time ruling undiscussed, I had seen the situation as my first conquest and after all, at that age, only kisses on those lips a little humid and slightly soft. It’s my impression that her text was copied from some love letters manual although this doesn’t move the problem. She said: …we loved each other… will you forget me? I never saw her anymore but her note keeps repeating to me: will you forget me? Will you forget me? So I couldn’t forget her. Being my same age, she could still be alive, perhaps it’s she who forgot me!

 

FOTOGRAFO DUNQUE SONO  (di Alberto Albertini)

Il colore stanco.

Un colore costretto sulla tela per necessità. Il pennello che striscia sulla tavola costringendo quel poco colore a restarci appiccicato.

Immagini sbiadite cotte dal sole immobile, disegnate con la stanchezza o con il sublime distacco dalla materia. L’idea appesa flebilmente alla tavola. Il colore sottile per non gravare anch’esso sull’essenza, come se di stanchezza potesse cadere… 

Giorgio Morandi nelle parole di Alberto Albertini 

“Cosa te ne fai delle fotografie?” mi chiese un giorno il mio amico Ralph. Imbarazzante! Non me l’ero mai chiesto, mi sono posto domande più inquietanti come l’esistenza della felicità, ma non questa, nonostante che qualche relazione sia innegabile.

Perché fotografo? Se penso che le opere umane esistono solo se rese pubbliche, io, le mie foto non le ho rese pubbliche, allora non esistono? Un pochino esistono, esistono per quella parte complessa del mio io che le esige: un bisogno! Un calcolo infinitesimale, un’ equazione complessa…intanto, davanti a una certa cosa non puoi limitarti a lasciarla lì come se tu, andando via senza fotografarla, la lasciassi scomparire. E di fatto potrebbe anche essere, perché se non la vedi non puoi provare che ci sia ancora, è solo probabile che lo sia. 

Non basta, c’è il desiderio di possedere, di conservare in una forma diversa dalla memoria le cose che hai visto. Non ti possono più sfuggire. Forse ti soddisfa l’illusione che la cosa è lì a tua disposizione e placa un desiderio assolutamente vago e inutile ma necessario, entra in una sfera del subconscio per animare di più, per colmare l’incapacità di collocare in giusta misura l’evento in una casella che altri hanno ma tu no, una casella che diventa una specie di infinito arbitrario ma comodo e soddisfacente a buon prezzo. “Ma che messaggio vuoi dare, che cosa vuoi dire, con le tue fotografie?” Niente. C’è l’aspetto esteriore: la fotografia! Il piacere dell’inquadratura, delle forme, delle luci, e sopratutto l’intimo, il collegamento con ciò che l’inconscio chiede ma non definisce. E lo scatto? In un istante ti impossessi di un tutto: quello che vedi e quello che ti è sfuggito ma ritrovi dopo, riesaminando la foto. Fermare il tempo. Da qui parte il mio prossimo progetto, quando troverò i mezzi: essere accompagnato bendato in un luogo ignoto e fotografare sempre bendato. Rimane il problema che è arbitrario da parte dell’accompagnatore la scelta del luogo.

Ma poi sono arrivati i telefonini…………….

Il PC che mi attende mostra una delle immagini che ho caricato in sequenza sul desktop. Lei è sdraiata sull’erba, il seno gonfio di latte, lo sguardo lontano, non pensa? La bocca quasi sorride. È circondata da foglie d’edera e di pampini. Forse intorno non c’è la casa, la strada, il mondo.

Oppure, in questa, si copre la fronte con la mano per riparare gli occhi dal sole. I capelli le coprono la guancia destra, un viso regolare, guarda lontano… Ogni foto è il tentativo di far vivere le visioni intime del mio inconscio. Per esempio qui, in una radura, lei cammina sulla traccia di un sentiero, il sole entra di striscio tra i rami e stacca i gruppi di foglie, illumina il prato e di striscio il suo vestito trasparente, un mondo su misura come anche nella seguente, lei scende una scala di pietre frantumate, che non serve, perché la casa è crollata. 

—1944-— 1946—

Guardo il pavimento, una gamba del tavolo, l’interruttore. Esito ad andare a letto, non mi piace quell’attesa improduttiva prima del sonno, mi preparo qualche ragionamento per renderla meno noiosa ma una volta disteso mi appaiono volti deformati di persone inesistenti, mostri che ghignano cambiano si sostituiscono. Sono ancora sveglio? Ho imparato a sognare da sveglio?

L’emanazione mi ha sempre incuriosito come concetto o come sostanza: la lampadina emana luce, si anche il sole, ma la luce c’è è evidente ma cos’è? l’uranio emana raggi x, le antenne onde radio, però non si possono toccare, palpare. Cos’è questa roba che viaggia nello spazio, nel vuoto assoluto eppure è di li che porta il calore! Anche le donne emanano, non gli odori, anche se, emanano un flusso, una percezione misteriosa avvolgente languida.

Anche oggi il test equilibrio l’ho superato: infilare i calzoni in piedi senza appoggi, un rischio, però devo sapere.

Come nella foto sotto le due betulle. È seduta sulla panchina di pietra, il sole traccia macchie di luce su di lei. Indossa un abito pervinca scuro che le casca addosso come fosse liquido, è appoggiata al tronco indolente come in attesa. In quest’altra invece si ritorna al periodo più buio. È un bellissimo ritratto in bianco e nero. Le palpebre appena più sollevate vedono la miseria, la disperazione, quel periodo mi ritorna e lo rivivo.

Emanazione, emanazione, inizio dell’incanto: l’emozione del primo contatto, stare insieme, boschi, paesaggi, vento, natura. Un uragano emozionale e poi lei si ritrova con la pancia. Ingannevole, assurdo, non si può barare così. Io avrei separato le due cose: ora per fare l’amore si usa la pillola, per fare i bambini la fecondazione assistita. 

Perché tante fotografie? Forse un desiderio di possesso, il bisogno di afferrare il mistero. È seduta su un tronco contorto nella pineta di Fregene. Il sole basso colpisce frontalmente il viso, le ombre disegnano la figura dandole rilievo ma l’espressione è dura, contrariata. Una doppia esistenza? Quella dell’emanazione verso di me e quella propria privata che io non avrei mai potuto conoscere? Certo, ci sono indizi che delineano la personalità, ma ben lontani dal mostrare il carattere completo, il suo pensiero. Mi chiedo, sapendo di non poter rispondere, quale mondo brulichi dentro di lei! Credevo di possedere io solo un mondo interiore? Non ho mai voluto condividerlo, è nella mia natura solitaria serbarlo nell’intimo, ma lei in che mondo viveva? e voleva, condividerlo? Sarebbe potuta emergere una differenza incolmabile.

Calcolatrice, faceva i suoi progetti che poi emergevano al momento opportuno e contemporaneamente calcolava le mosse per non infastidire la sua profonda indolenza che pure era un invito.

Chissà se Leopardi sapeva che il passero sul campanile non cantava per passatempo ma per richiamo sessuale e terminata la stagione avrebbe staccato? È tutto così rallentato! Eppure vorrei avere ancora uno scatto, ma per cosa fare? Il ventilatore rimane lassù con le braccia aperte, isolato e inutile. Comincia filtrare un po’ di luce, io invece fatico più del sole ad alzarmi dalla poltrona: la lettura del giornale mi stanca a causa della cattiva vista, o forse no, il mio autunno è più avanzato di quello meteorologico! Il medico mi prescrive otto medicine diverse, pillole, capsule, gocce, iniezioni. Io mi rifiuto, il medico insiste e io replico che alla mia età posso permettermelo, entra qualcuno, chi? Era un sogno ma penso che lo farei davvero.

Cati per 100 margherite si era lasciata baciare ma lei aveva anni 11 e io tredici. Rossana, anni dopo dicevano che era ninfomane e poi si era suicidata. Lulli, anche di lei dicevano che si era suicidata a Merano. Fiorella era mia segretaria negli anni settanta ma fu colpita da ematoma al cervello e rimase menomata.

Non piove più, che tranquillità, quasi vado a dormire. Ho cercato ma non lo trovo più, il biglietto d’addio di Giovanna. Per lungo tempo ho saputo dov’era, poi il tempo…mi ha seguito per tutta la vita. Avevamo solo quattordici anni, che ne sapevamo? Che ne sapevo io, perché Giovanna lo sapeva e l’ha scritto: mi dimenticherai? Vittima della cultura maschilista che allora imperava indiscussa, avevo preso la cosa come la mia prima conquista e poi in fondo, a quell’età, solo baci su quelle labbra un po’ umide e un po molli. Credo che lo scritto fosse copiato da qualche manuale di lettere d’amore ma questo non sposta il problema. Diceva: ….ci siamo amati….mi dimenticherai? Non l’ho mai più rivista ma il suo biglietto mi ripete sempre: mi dimenticherai? Mi dimenticherai? Così non ho potuto dimenticarla. Avendo la mia età, come me potrebbe essere ancora in vita, magari lei mi ha dimenticato!

Border ball : JOEL TAUBER IN FRONT OF THE WALL

WAITING FOR THE geese/swans

by Rosanna Albertini

I see Joel in trouble and I like him there. Because his journey on the same road back and forth for 40 days has the same distinct property of a religious ritual,  including the dress of a baseball player, the big glove and the white ball. If such is the case, the roots of his journey are as ancient as those of the migrants’ peregrination, driven by their overconfident heart despite all the obstacles that a human mind can conceive in advance. 

A primitive desire moves them both toward an uncertain goal, against safety or reasonable solutions. All the Indo European fairytales contain the same kind of quest: go, says the little sister to her brother, and bring me the fountain of the silver water. The boy goes, and helped by the vision of an old man, he succeeds. Now the girl wants the white parrot, who can only be grabbed when his eyes are open, which means he is asleep. If the boy fails, his body will be petrified. And so he is.

Ahead of themselves, the questers do not know what will meet them during the quest. The artist could feel the spell spread by the wall and have a moment of stillness, hoping that the white geese/swans in the sky would lift his soul.

I’m translating this contemporary journey into the words of a timeless story: 

“my geese, little swans, 

take me on your wings…”

Wait for those that are coming behind us” answer the birds.  Same request to another flock, and same answer, “Wait for those behind us.” At this point the artist prays. He becomes exactly like the hero of another story, about to die in the castle of nothingness. After failing to hit the target twice, he closes his eyes and whispers: “May no one miss the goal of his life as I have done!” It is then that his arrow hits the white parrot. Old interpreters knew the white parrot was nothing but his soul, and the journey was spiritual.*

I don’t have any doubt that this is the nature of Joel Tauber’s quest. Collecting  stories from migrants, border patrol officers, passing people, he builds the wings of flying bodies for visions or pages. And he breaks the spell of the stalled hopes: “Now, tell me who you are now, give me your heart wounded by offenses.”

He is building a future memory that will not say: “I can’t pick you up, ask somebody else.” It is simple, as Viktor Sklovskij wrote:

A person can’t lift herself by herself alone, and she asks to all her forebears who thought and dreamed, those who got indignant, those who have been reprimanded; the person talks to them, when reading [or watching a movie]: bring me with you!” 

Animals disappeared, words changed, but the big electric machine of human self awareness, a thinking machine, shakes the sky with multiple wings, humans are part of that. A writer is the apprentice among humans. Writing is impossible without working, without reading, without looking at the flocks of geese and swans that, population after population, school after school, fly over you and in the end will bring you on their wings.”** 

  • Marie-Louise Von Franz, Individuation in Fairy Tales, Shambhala Publications, Boston & London, 1977, 1990.
  • Viktor Sklovskij, C’era una volta,(Zili-byli )Trad. it by Sergio Leone, Milano, Il Saggiatore, 1968, 1994.

 

By Joel Tauber

I’m continually confronted by the Border Wall. I walk alongside it everyday, while making my 40-Day Pilgrimage from the Otay Mesa Port of Entry to the Otay Mesa Detention Center, and then back again.

The Wall seems most imposing to me from the easternmost point of my 7 mile route before I head north towards the Detention Center. The towering metal barricade marches seemingly forever east, past the horizon line. I stare at The Wall, but I cannot touch it. I face it behind a second shorter metal fence and a restricted buffer zone of highly patrolled land.

I stand at this spot, tossing a ball and thinking about The Wall. I interview people about the border and about baseball, and I toss a ball with them. I talk to Border Patrol agents nearby. Then, I toss a ball to myself some more.

And I wonder. What does The Wall do to us? Psychologically? Ethically? Spiritually? What happens when we emphasize, so clearly, the boundaries between us? When we heighten them with steel, rebar, and concrete? Does The Wall make it harder to recognize that we’re all connected to each other? That we’re all on the same team?

I continue to toss a ball, over and over again. As a ritual. As a meditation. As a prayer. I think about our teammates who are suffering. The hungry. The homeless. The refugees who we turn away. And all those we lock up in detention centers.

Then, I declare:

Walk with me along the border. Play catch with me in front of the wall. Share some hot dogs and salsa. I don’t care what part of the world you’re from. Let’s root, root, root for teamwork. If we don’t find some, it’s a shame. For it’s one, two, three strikes, we’re out at the old ball game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

KIM ABELES: she knows how to dream in prose

(thank you Fernando Pessoa))


KIM ABELES  6 Self-Portraits with Files  1995
  Los Angeles

 

The interior life is often stupid. Its egotism blinds it and deafens it; its imagination spins out ignorant tales, fascinated. … A mind risks real ignorance for the sometimes paltry prize of an imagination enriched. The trick of reason is to get the imagination to seize the actual world — if only from time to time. (Annie Dillard)

( oxen )

KIM ABELES, Self-Portrait with Files, 1995, Courtesy of the artist

trying to GRAB the ACTUAL WORLD

by Rosanna Albertini

Leaves do not fall on the floor for a reason, a reason we can’t read or measure —secret dance of nature —and the eyes look about the yellow ripples searching for an order that isn’t there, it is only within us, mostly lost in a life we don’t understand and moderately control. Birth and death the ultimate truth. 

I bring back these self-portraits by Kim Abeles today for a special reason: they depict a woman in action, but they are stills. The woman engages all the energy of her body holding, pulling, birthing a package of files that are nothing but life, but once more truly still: documents, memories, flat monuments of some living things. 

The photographs are not about her SELF, they translate into paper images our stubborn conflict within a reality threatening us every day like the big mouth of a crocodile. Oh the teeth! They seem able to crumble every trace of humanity and especially like to chew the remains of freedom. Eventually the crocodile will go back to the swamp. It happened many times in the past. In the meantime our brain is scoured by the news. They are the semblance of life. They wrap themselves around the hours scanning time more than the old clock. See? all of this paragraph is a mental thing, as any thing else which is written.  

Kim, the artist, opens a different chapter: her body deals with the flattened life as another body. We see the weight of saving pieces of life on paper, heavy phantoms of the living, if phantoms can be heavy. 

( pulley I )

KIM ABELES, Self-Portrait with Files, 1995 Courtesy of the artist

( pulley 2 )

KIM ABELES, Self-Portrait with Files, 1995 Courtesy of the artist

( pulleygut )

KIM ABELES, Self-Portrait with Files, 1995 Courtesy of the artist

And we perceive her permanent struggle in preserving movement, the physical connection to something that was living and now is flat and black and white and  packaged. Each photograph is condemned to the same destiny. So you as an artist, Kim, you become a figure on the pile, maybe trying to stop flatness from growing, maybe adding your own?  

“Multiple emotions. Not just one life in one isolated body; make your soul the host of several bodies. Feel it vibrate to the emotions of others as well as to your own and it will forget its own griefs when it ceases to think only of itself. The outer life is not violent enough; more poignant tremors result from inner surges of rapture.” André Gide, The White Notebook

( birthing )

KIM ABELES, Self-Portrait with Files, 1995 , Courtesy of the artist

Online dictionary: e-motion: a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others… moving from, mid 16th century. 

The artist’s actions are literally e-motions. Her soul, invisible, is the engine of her actions, silencing her mind.  

Levitation: reality, the pile of files, looks pregnant with her.

Birthing: she gives birth to the pile of files, just a physical need. 

André Gide again: “I was then a child. I did not understand that the mind is nothing and passes away while the soul still remains after death. … What is the soul?

The soul is our will to love.”

 levitation )

KIM ABELES, Self-Portrait with Files, 1995, Courtesy of the artist

 

JOEL TAUBER : the BORDER BALL begins

The Tree is gone!!! Replaced by concrete

The Tree is gone!!! Replaced by concrete. And, I’m beyond devastated.

At the same time, I’m trying to focus on all of the Tree Babies that are thriving.

So, I went to visit the USC Tree Baby to try to cheer up.

Many thanks to all the Tree Baby parents!

I will always love The Tree, and I will always miss The Tree. Sick-Amour.

And, now I must move forward; because tomorrow, I start Border-Ball: a 40-Day pilgrimage along the U.S. – Mexico border

TOMORROW, OCTOBER 29, the pilgrimage begins. This blog will follow and publish Joel Tauber’s journey every time he will send  documents and stories.  The editor, RA

 

JEROME ROTHENBERG and CHARLIE MORROW: BREATHING

BREATHING …. our perennial COMEDY OF MISTAKES

with JEROME ROTHENBERG and CHARLIE MORROW, ROSANNA ALBERTINI and CHARLES-LOUIS de MONTESQUIEU

 

RA    missing eternity and perfection, we rely on counting, measuring and forgetting

JR    There are worlds here / hidden from sight / whose ends are like / their beginnings

RA    and yet we move on changing confident that time will do the right job and memory will be a safe

JR    that farce replaces tragedy / obscene even to think it / & yet to come into another age / & find it proven true

MONTESQUIEU    I’m not a poet, but I know it, the becoming is universal soul, almost a wind, a  life-giving breathing: a “principle” produced by an infinite chain of causes interwoven through centuries, until they tune the spirit of one age.  Once the tone is given, it is the only governing force, it dominates until the total destruction. If the tone is corrupt, humans can only forget themselves.

 RA    I’m not good at counting. Please Jerry, tell me it is not true we must be reminded of a vanishing earth

JR    some will proclaim the word / against all odds / others can only wait / & wonder  

 

 Rothenberg’s house, Saturday, August 24 — Videos by Peter Kirby 

Charlie Morrow playing various instruments, Jerry Rothenberg reading

       

Jerome Rothenberg, NEVER DONE COUNTING, 2019

Enclosed by matter /all my thoughts / scream for prophecy. / When I wake up on Mondays / the night is still hanging / above me galaxies / shedding their images /fading unknown / in the half light / a light that confounds me. / Nothing we know is unreal / & nothing is real. / There is only the face / of a woman / blind in the sun / & a voice that cries out / in a language like French. / When she raises her arms / they look distant and lame, / something there / that won’t work but falls flat / against me. I will follow her / up to the moon, will watch her / paint herself red / with no sense / of the distances still to be traveled, / no plot to adjust to / but numbers / that show me / the little i know,  /  the way one / vanishing universe /  shrinks till it swallows / another. / There are worlds here hidden from sight / whose ends are like / their beginnings,  / the world in daylight / turns dark / the blaze of noon / caught in their mirrors, / as the sun slips / through our fingers / never done counting / where the globe / has dropped / out of sight.*

Jerome Rothenberg, THE POEM AS LANDSCAPE, 2019   

the definition of place / is more than / what was seen / or what was / felt before / when dreaming / of the dead / the way / a conflagration / wrapped itself / around his world / leaving in his mind / a trace of dunes / the fallout from / a ring of mountains / reminders / of a vanished earth / the landscape / marked with rising tufts / the hardness of / clay tiles / that press against  / our feet like bricks / the soil concealed / beneath its coverings / through which  a weave / of twisted wires / crisscross the empty / fields as markers / to commemorate / the hapless dead / the ones who fly / around like ghosts / bereft of either / home or tomb / in what would once / have been their world / the count fades out / beyond 10,000 / leaves them to be swept / down endless ages / fused together / or else apart / lost nomads / on the road / to desolation / a field on mars / they wait to share / with others / dead at last**

 

The mystery is all contained in speaking

then the little silences

surround my words like poetry

I breathe them in & out***

 

Whiteness grows around Charlie Morrow’s images and words, around which we should imagine a space expanding, with no edges.  Each verbal suggestion is the core of a sound event. Our mind can hear.

 

CHARLIE MORROW

1 

 B o o k  of  B r e a t h

2

3

 

Life birth                                                                               breathing in

                                                    two hearts two years early on

4

Breath Chant

5

Kaddish Tibetan

6

Breeze

vegetable breezes

7

Whisteling in and out

8

Breath and Bells

9

Wind Song

10

Birth of the Eagle Voice

11

Remembering Breaths

12

Breath of Love

13

la petite mort

14

Death                                                                                 breathing out

                                                                            On the assent of the fragile

 

As for me, I hold my breath.

I hold my breath trying to keep it in me as long as I can, facing the last edge. That’s the way my life moved, from an edge to another, suddenly immersed in spaces where everything was new: faces, language, smells, temperature, colors. I was I because my dog recognized me? Not even that. My dog had been killed by cigarette smugglers near the house of my birth. I was moved to the city. My dialect, the freshness of leaves in the wind, and the small white, soft flowers climbing the bushes, careless of spines, were replaced by the odor of soup mixed with vapors of bleach at the entrance of my apartment building. The fog sucked me in, licking my adolescence out of me. Later the lagoon cuddled me every day on my way to work on the boat, the bus, the train, the boat again, shaking my more mature energy out of my body. Life was breathing, not me. And I was not more than one of the many particles she digests, like the ogre of fairy tales. One story after another, waves of living pealed the years off, bringing me in front of the unknown, one more time. What’s after the last breath? I am so curious I can’t express it. I am so happy. The desert where I am now erases all fears: it’s a blooming of nothingness, for the nothing we are. 

Now I see what my grandfather painted when he placed me sitting on the edge of a landscape, looking at the void. The painting was made in his studio, a fantasy about my future, probably. He also placed himself in the scene. He is the tree behind me, as I felt him all my life long. We are wrapped in light, and mad with love for this life that annihilates us.  

Rosanna Albertini

ORESTE ALBERTINI, Title and year unknown, about 1950

Bibliography:

*Jerome Rothenberg, The President of Desolation & Other Poems, Further Autovariations Reminders of a Vanished Earth, Arrangement and edition © 2019 Black Widow Press

**Jerome Rothenberg, The President of Desolation & Other Poems, 2019, Further Autovariations Reminders of a Vanished Earth, Arrangement and Edition © 2019 Black Widow Press

***Jerome Rothenberg, from The Mystery of False Attachments, Word Palace Press, @ 2019 

Charles-Louis de Montesquieu, Storia vera, with translation and postface  by Rosanna Albertini, Palermo, Sellerio Editore, 1983

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALBERTO ALBERTINI : CASTLES IN THE AIR

Alberto Albertini :  CASTLES IN THE AIR

August-September 2019  Alberto is ninety two

from Milan (Italy)- DRAWINGS AND PHOTOGRAPHS by Alberto Albertini

 

 

Note of the editor and translator, Rosanna Albertini

Alberto’s father was my grandfather, the painter Oreste. The family gave us a common humus in the same village and a pull of genes, but this blog is the place of our reciprocal discovery, challenge and collaboration. To be part of the same family is a coincidence, whereas to think and write together is a double journey, the way to question our attachment to the arts through the knotted branches of our lives. 

Each time Alberto sends me a new piece, I know that this project makes sense. The whole blog, not only the single chapters. Why? Fernando Pessoa already wrote it better than I could: 

“The simplest —but really the simplest— things, which nothing can make semisimple, become complex when we live them.” 

A sort of “shame of existing” most of the time shuts my voice off in public situations, as if having to speak out loud implied audacity. The blog doesn’t make any noise. Through the blog Alberto and myself listen to each other’s secret voice. I truly feel at home, if he also does I don’t know. I hope so. 

“The /constant/ analysis of our sensations creates a new way of feeling that seems artificial to anyone who analyzes it with his intelligence instead of with his own sensation.” (Pessoa) 

That’s why I open this post with a few lines Alberto wrote about infinity. They interestingly connect to Kuitca’s sensation of painting, in the post that precedes this one. And they perfectly fit in my vision.

The surface.

The canvas in tension immaculate.

A provocative portion of infinity, the infinite power to represent ideas on canvas. In front of the surface the dismay of tracing an essential sign that could express by itself not ideas, rather the act of opposing infinity, a sign containing every thing.

Fontana, with a slashing cut, hits this power that the surface gives off.

The surface is still there, and is not. The slash broke infinity as well as its power. It tells us the gesture, the extreme attempt at expressing by only one sign another infinity, unfathomable, of the artist.

Alberto’s canvas is his life slashed by the war, and lightened by simple things, like the castles. 

CASTLES IN THE AIR

by Alberto Albertini

I was nine years old when Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released, in 1937. I believe it was the first time I saw a castle. It grew bold in the sky, arousing my fantasy, in the movie it didn’t have to be rooted on the ground. Despite the boring songs and the shaky images, a sort of hitch, the movie revealed a dreamworld that could be extended afterwards. My brain started to produce its fancies, and I tried to draw more beautiful castles, more daring.

Having the right conditions, maybe I would also have built a castle as Ludwig II did in Neuschwanstein. I only dreamed of castles by making drawings. But drawing is a privileged activity: while you do it, it allows you to travel beyond the drawing, fancying romantic stories of young women in the clearing of the enchanted wood. That’s why maybe I couldn’t learn poems by heart; they were not fantasies produced by me! In the end, to stimulate fantasy is the true meaning of reality. Why should we stop reality in one click?  To preserve the starting image of a journey. 

Castles, castles, castles…

Castles in the air, as when I dreamed of having a camera I couldn’t buy and drew it in a project, taken by the illusion I could build it; or a little later, in 1945, I was struck down by the ERMANOX, Salomon’s fotocamera from the twenties, it was already vintage. In order to buy it I wanted to make an amplifier and sell it to have the necessary money. The amplifier was made but not sold: it ended being rented by the improvised after war ‘balera,’ an unpretentious dance hall nearby. 

Heart-wrenching mazurcas, tangos and waltzes, sounds reaching us from afar as she and I leaned out of the window of our room trying to absorb the pleasure of that sadness. Desire and imagination are also good for building and inventing as I eventually did: dreams in a drawer from which sometimes one takes something out. Because an intense activity of imagination requires time, if one doesn’t have enough time, it happens that his brain follows two directions at the same time: taking care of the job with the mind away from it, thus running the risk of losing the job. It happened to me just when I was beginning to go back up.

My conversion, nevertheless, was never complete. The business trips were a perfect opportunity: I could quickly abandon my contact person to get the train to the airport, glad when I saw from the window a profusion of broom flowers. I could breathe! And what about brooms near Lake Trasimeno?

Such alternative work can be also practiced quite late in life, but it’s less satisfying of course, one can’t throw himself too far and eventually makes do with sensations, atmospheres. Not memories! I detest memories. What are they for, to be stirred by happiness again? Certainly not. Facts existed, there they stay. Atmospheres are something else: a smell of wood’s sawdust instantly evokes the sawmills of the alpine valleys, the pinewoods. For a moment one feels there. Or the smell of the sea…

ALBERTO ALBERTINI, Roofs in Corso Garibaldi, from his window.

I take my time reading the newspaper, then I stop and start looking at the objects around me: bookcases, books, photographs, memories piled in containers that I will not open; boxes, playthings scattered on the shelves blocking the access to books I don’t care of looking for, or on hold to be shelved. It will not happen. My big screen PC contains a life, my life taking photographs: I have in mind to select them by subject, to make virtual albums. I will certainly do it. There are also the paintings but I don’t see them, on the side walls. Their presence is enough to keep my mind at rest. The sun makes a square of light on the wooden floor that reverberates heat in the room, the window open, the morning air still pleasant. 

Twenty, twenty-two years in such an intimate island so much inside the city, almost unreal, to go down and communicate, to go up and meditate. How much more time? Not so much, it can’t be, yet I take it in wanting to exalt sensations that age is wearing out. What can be done in order to have such a long life? a lady asked me while waiting for her number: to have a project, a destination, a purpose! still I have some projects, if I don’t hurry I can keep them to prolong my life. 

I know I’m not eternal, I’ve started to feel my years a while ago and yet I also feel I’m eternal, who knows. Who knows who I really was, some remorse resurfaces, is it possible to live with nothing to regret? I can stand the stains spread on my consciousness.

ALBERTO ALBERTINI, Outline of the nocturnal city, from his window

Late in the night, from the window I see the street, it’s almost empty. Somebody comes by. A few windows are lit: didn’t they go on vacation? What are they doing still on, at that time? 

ALBERTO ALBERTINI, Looking out the rear windows of his building

Bibliography

Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet, composed by Bernardo Soares, assistant bookkeeper in the city of Lisbon. Translated by Alfred Mac Adam, Exact Change, Boston, 1998

 

GUILLERMO KUITCA – THEATERS LITTLE BRAINS

About GUILLERMO KUITCA  

  exhibition  Guillermo Kuitca 18 May – 11 August 2019  Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles

 

GUILLERMO KUITCA, Untitled (Teatro Colón) 2018-2019, Mixed media on paper, 29 x 42 cm. 11 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches. 
© Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Jeff Mclane

 

THEATERS LITTLE BRAINS

by Rosanna Albertini

 paintings are self obscuring bodies of historyJohn Cage

Crazy effort is ours to make sense

because we use words and they seem to exist for that job

although making sense or giving up with it are much bigger activities than writing or speaking words.

Kuitca makes paintings and “attacks” them from inside

since 2005 he realized he can barely introduce humans in the painted scenes

often they are replaced by numbers and geometrical signs for seats

he doesn’t have inspiring urgency to make art 

A mí no me sucede -he says.

No tengo necesidad de expresarme.

Cuando estoy trabajando, es como si la obra me fuera dictando lo que tengo que hacer.

Me aterra que la obra tienda a organizarse aun cuando yo trate de producir cambios importantes. 

En el intento de ruptura, muchas veces lo único que se consigue es una estructura tan organizada como la que se quería romper.

Reconozco que ese movimiento … es en parte el deseo de ruptura que nunca se cumplió.”

Desire of breaking off that never kept its promise.

GUILLERMO KUITCA, Untitled (Staples Center) 2018-2019 Mixed media on paper, 29 x 42 cm  11 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches
© Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy of the artist and Houser & Wirth. Photo: Jeff Mclane

I admire the philosopher in these miniature theaters, the man walking around in his studio perhaps in search of his mind, as much as the paintings. Kuitca is right, boundaries and infinity share the same space, in paintings they join their power. The artist answers to their secret call and finds himself facing a sort of physical resistance in the paper or canvas as the composition takes form. 

As this happens, he needs to attack the image from inside. There is a circular movement in the pictorial process -as Kuitca describes it-  as if the “obra,” the art piece, had her own way to assemble images and colors, and the artist was listening to the silent forms coming from him or escaping from him? “If the obra unfolds herself, -he says- she makes it chaining, not breaking.” “Despite the effort of producing big changes…what I obtain is a structure as well organized as the one that I would like to break.”

I only can imagine stopping painting when my pictorial project accomplishes itself.”  “As if something ended and I stayed out of it.”

Real theaters and stadiums are large, well organized monuments of architectural order.

Numbers, prices, performances swirl in the artist’s mind as he performs as a painter. He doesn’t go beyond the map in these small theaters’ making.  He builds his own configuration no bigger than a hand, and the very idea of structure is forced to deal with the human nature of the hand that draws, paints and glues. While the architectural forms spring back into colors, their painted new life starts fighting against the order. As if it wasn’t enough, the artist floods the area over the orchestra, opens cracks in the stability of the building. The edges crumble, the center is shaken by lines that seem to activate an electric storm. The rows become black and pink feathers.

 

GUILLERMO KUITCA, Untitled ( Oslo Opera House) 2018-1019 Mixed media on paper 29 x 42cm 11 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches.
© Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy of the artist and Houser & Wirth. Photo: Jeff Mclane

   

GUILLERMO KUITCA, Untitled (David Geffen Hall) 2018-2019 Mixed media on paper 29 x 42 cm 11 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches.
© Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy of the artist and Houser & Wirth. Photo: Jeff Mclane

   

GUILLERMO KUITCA, Untitled (Metropolitan Opera House) 2018-2019 Mixed media on paper 29 x 42 cm 11 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches.
© Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy of the artist and Houser & Wirth.  Photo: Jeff Mclane

                                               

The artist, contemporary Diogenes. Instead of holding a candle in the face of the other humans, looking for the honest one, Guillermo Kuitca places and holds in front of our eyes miniature portraits of our brains. Is he challenging our own virtue? They are also pealed open heads, stripped of the usual overdressed makeup. They might be many single heads, or one, rather, disguised through different modes. It’s our inner chaos that flickers in front of us. 

Don’t mistake me. We are not impenetrable safes. We are sponges breathing in and out infinite vibrations. Life of others enters our bodies like a bunch of needles, whether we want it or not.

Only literally these are theaters. They are theaters for sure, places that underwent a radical clean up from velvet, posters and decoration, as well as heads not only stripped from bones, hair and lipstick, also deprived of intellectual pride, that cloud of purity we honor, some times, to forget we are guests of a supreme intelligence which is our body, the magnificent container of growth and decay, under the will of time.

Each theater replicates the map of an existing theater, but the title of the painting  is UNTITLED. 

GUILLERMO KUITCA, Untitled (Teatro alla Scala) 2018-2019 Mixed media on paper 29 x 42 cm 11 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches.
© Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy of the artist and Houser & Wirth. Photo: Jeff Mclane

Cynical like Diogenes, I like to drink in the cup of my hands. My eyes absorb the painted images in the same, simple way. It’s a new experience in front of each piece. I see numbered seats mutate into entangled neurons, loosening like pieces of thread cut into the seam. My own neurons curl up, still hurt by the pain I encountered on the sidewalk this morning, waiting for the bus. A man asked me for money for the fare. His eyes met mine only once, for an instant. Here it is, I told him, and tried to talk with him. He kept his face down until tears dropped, heavy like lead. A few words from him revealed he had just lost wife and two children, all dead. The only remains of his life were in his gray, double suitcase. His tragedy has become mine. Inner life is life of others. We obey life as this painter who is very dear to me obeys the obra, the work he does. A new world comes out of it. Pain is not hidden. Which creates disruption, uncertainty, and a lot of unknown.  

The space we share, in front of his paintings and every day, on the road. 

Everyone probably experiences something different. 

WITTGENSTEIN with one alteration: “painting” instead of “proposition”

A  painting … does not actually contain its sense, but does contain the possibility of expressing it. …

A painting contains the form, but not the content, of its sense.  (Tractatus, 3.15)

Only facts can express a sense, a set of names cannot. (Tractatus, 3.142)

 

GUILLERMO KUITCA, Untitled (Bayreuth Festspielhaus) 2018-2019 Mixed media on paper 29 x 42 cm 11 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches.
© Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy of the artist and Houser & Wirth. Photo: Jeff Mclane

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Kuitca’s words are all from his conversation with Graciela Speranza in GUILLERMO KUITCA OBRAS 1982-1998, © Graciela Speranza and Guillermo Kuitca, Editorial Norma S.A., 1998 Santafe´de Bogotá

GUILLERMO KUITCA, THEATRE COLLAGES, © 2005 Guillermo Kuitca, Hauser & Wirth Zürich London, Stephen Barlow, Karen Wright. Scalo Verlag AG, Zürich, Switzerland

John Cage, A YEAR FROM MONDAY, Weslayan University Press, Middletown, Connecticut, 1963

Ludwig Wittgenstein, TRACTATUS LOGICO-PHILOSOPHICUS, Translation by D.F. Pears and B.F. McGuinness, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1961