Max Hooper Schneider : TRANSFER STATION

MAX HOOPER SCHNEIDER

Transfer Station, 2019 – HAMMER MUSEUM 2019-2020

 

AN ISLAND OF HOPE by Rosanna Albertini

 

“Unless life is interesting, there is nothing left (or, unless life is made interesting)”

“The interest of life is experienced by participating and by being part, not by observing nor by thinking.”

WALLACE STEVENS

Max’s fantasy landscape is real, not imaginary.  He worked on it like a gardener. His island, contained in a room, has all the space he needed to grow a jungle out of discarded objects found on the beach as well as branches, flowers, roots, leaves, ferns —artificial and natural— shoes, fake teeth, berries and buttons, necklaces and fake jewelry of every color and kind. 

Creatures of our desire on the wings of commercial infinite reproduction.

A rusty bar the young man extracts from the sand, or a big pipe from the guts of the city lingering in his memory enter a new cycle of life: night and day bathe the island as they do with the planet, and objects wake up to the museum room looking surprised to be there. They produce an illusion of impenetrable thickness, which is so well constructed that we miss the hybrid marriage between things for a while, until a clear center of energy emerges: the big reptile head, a dinosaur? holding a long gun and maybe screaming at the sky. An upside down supermarket cart completes this theater of absurdity. Our life as it happens, turning dreams into cheap pearls and adding colors to trick the eyes, oh if the heart needs fullness! 

I wonder. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plastic flowers last longer, it’s nice, he says. They are dead, I say. I wonder if a secret sorrow pervades this treasures trove built on affordable, popular decorations for a myth of survival. Beauty is included, made with accurate tending of artificial growths. The two humans figures are faceless. One day maybe we will wake up reshaped by hybrid forms.

His hands loaded with gifts, as Williams says, the artist built the most recent version of a romantic ruin, not a castle anymore, a transfer station to the end of time. Where nobody will cut the grass. 

And “the measure intervenes, to measure is all we know,

a choice among the measures . .

                                                        the measured dance   (William Carlos Williams, Paterson)

“Eventually an imaginary world is entirely without interest.” (Wallace Stevens)

Sorry Max, I tried to be part of your beautiful piece without observing or thinking, but ideas took over. I tried to contain them, to plant them in your garden. They thrived on their own, I had to follow them. 

Photos RA

Border Ball : JOEL TAUBER in front of THE OTAY MESA DETENTION CENTER

JOEL TAUBER

The Otay Mesa Detention Center troubles me. I walk there everyday from the Otay Mesa Port of Entry as part of my 40-day pilgrimage. Guards slowly circle the Detention Center in vans. They stare at me. I meet their gaze. They tell me that I have to remain on the sidewalk. The large private prison company that owns and operates the Detention Center, CoreCivic, maintains the dirt pathway that surrounds it. I cannot film, or even stand, on this pathway—or on the very large parking lot where the multitude of Detention Center employees park their cars.

I stand on the sidewalk and bear witness. I toss a ball, repetitively and meditatively, contemplating the expanse of concrete “pods” holding the detainees. Three layers of barbed wire and electric fencing separate me from the people locked inside. I cannot see them. I cannot talk with them or play catch with them. I cannot offer food or other forms of direct aid.

I try to imagine what it must be like for the detainees—especially those who are forced to remain in the Detention Center for years on end. Refugees. Dreamers. Most have no criminal records whatsoever. Treated like prisoners. In jumpsuits. Living in concrete cages. Breathing in terrible air from the power plant across the street. Suffering, according to multiple reports, from physical and sexual abuse. Medical neglect. Contaminated and insufficient food. Forced labor.

I toss the ball and I think about how my paternal grandparents survived the Holocaust. How my grandfather’s brother died in a labor camp. How I am a descendant of immigrants who came to this country because they believed, like I do, that it is a welcoming place that values people from all ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs. A compassionate country that finds homes for refugees, that cares for those that need help.

I’m still shocked by the march in Charlottesville, so close to where I live with my wife and two young boys. Klansmen without hoods, shouting openly about killing Jews and African Americans. I’m frightened by the rise of racist rhetoric and the rise of hate crimes. And I’m terrified by white nationalism. But, I have hope nonetheless. I continue to believe in our country. I’m confident that we will rediscover our values. So, I toss a ball and 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.

On Thanksgiving, a guard stops his van and tells me that he sees me everyday. We discuss the Detention Center, the Border, the Wall. The value of compassion. A friend who has walked with me that day adds his thoughts. Then the guard asks: “we need this place, right?” I thank him for asking such an important question. He thanks me. Then the guard resumes circling the Detention Center in his van. And I start walking back to the Port of Entry with my friend, as the conversation circles over and over again in my mind.

 

DECEMBER 18, IMPEACHMENT DAY

by Rosanna Albertini

Only as an invisible fairy I walked with Joel Tauber. Hot dogs and salsa not the best for me. But this online presence allows me to send my contribution: an immigration story to the artist who is at home by now, with his children and wife.  Christmas is certain, the future not so much. Whatever happens with this presidency, it’s useful to remember that history is not a ballroom. American fears are the same as in every other country in the world. Maybe the eagle has lost some feathers, maybe the country has “unbuttoned his waistcoat and offered a morsel of his liver to the bird.” Take a look! “Come, come now! ! It’s nothing but a conscience, at the very most.” (André Gide, Prometheus Misbound, 1953)

My grandmother was fourteen when a big ship brought her from Northern Italy to the land of hope. She traveled alone. An uncle had a drugstore in Pittsburgh and needed family workers, which probably means unpaid. The winter was so nasty the girl got chilblains in her feet, which were only protected by rubber boots. Business was bad, the girl was sent back after one year. On the verge of WWI in her village poverty was endemic. For a while the family sent her to Switzerland to become a baby sitter. She only had to cross the lake. 1915. Once the war exploded, fears made people irrational, ignorant of Switzerland’s neutrality. The girl was called back to the village. To work was then even more inevitable for the lack of men, all soldiers. The girl found a night job in a factory nearby, the Cucirini Cantoni, to produce thread for sewing. Big machines, long nocturnal turns: a second of distraction; the four fingers of her right hand were gone, completely cut off. The thumb remained. She was seventeen. The fearless creature inside her body didn’t flinch. She trained the left hand to do everything needed, married a painter, became his studio manager, after his death organized exhibitions with other artists’ widows. Had two boys and a daughter who died before birth. I have her name. 

ROSA MASERATI ALBERTINI  with her father and one of the little sisters.

The only photograph in which she has two perfect hands. Around 1911-1912.

 

R.B. KITAJ – BOOKS AND PICTURES : A SILENT ROMANCE

R.B. KITAJ, Untitled (Heart / I’ve Balled Every Waitress in This Club), 1966 collage on paperboard , 32 x 22 in © R.B. Kitaj Estate. Courtesy of LA Louver, Venice, CA

R.B. KITAJ – BOOKS AND PICTURES : A SILENT ROMANCE

 

R.B. KITAJ, I’ve Balled Every Waitress in This Club, 1967 color screenprint, photoscreenprint and collage on machine made long-fibred Japanese paper, 22 7/8 x 32 5/8 in. © R.B. Kitaj Estate. Courtesy of LA Louver Venice CA

 

Variations around an LA Louver exhibition

 R.B. KITAJ

Collages and prints, 1964-65  Nov. 2019-Jan. 2020

by ROSANNA ALBERTINI

 

GERTRUDE STEIN:  Oh yes I do like romance that is what makes landscapes but not flat land.

Flat land is not romantic because you can wander over it and if you can wander over it then there is money and if there is money then there is human mind and if there is human mind there is neither romance nor human nature nor governments nor propaganda. 

 

Looking at my young tree this morning, I saw a leaf committing yellowcide. Pessoa screams in my ears the expression is beautiful and he wrote it. But I love it so much that it comes up in my brain by itself, one of the myriad words floating like plankton on my attempt at shaping some perceptions. As I think, or write, I’m always chewing sounds and images as if words had a taste. Or if they were birds’ songs barely kept back by dry branches behind the leaves. Books become foliage at my eyes, each of them sings a verbal music which was a music in the writer’s mind painted with meanings in search of a story. In pictures or paragraphs what makes the text/ure is the author recording and finding place and disposition for the vague, movable, unreliable impressions printed by life on our nerves. Yes Pessoa, we make the dressing for the salad of life. 

Trying to meet R.B. Kitaj through his own words I found an artist content with being modern. He walked through the human comedies and Art’s efforts to become “contemporary” by increasing the distance between the hands and the artworks: “mirages”, as Duchamps called them. Kitaj kept his “wayward and melancholic” nature out of society. He was attracted by the solitude of painting. Reading Cezanne’s letters and seeing as an ideal composition The Tempest  by Giorgione. Feeling the inside of his head changed by books.

I was upset reading about the violent reactions to his 1994 exhibition at the Tate Gallery in London insulting him as a pseudo-intellectual. Plenty of documents about this on line.

Reality is, Behemoths are hard to kill. First was the World War, then the Bomb and finally the majesty of modern culture, strongly rooted in books. The marketplace became synonymous with freedom, also freedom from books. If an artist hides in his studio surrounded by books he becomes a Behemoth. 

He stopped breathing in a plastic beg. 

Here is his voice, and a few books transformed by Kitaj into prints, each of them a landscape, not a flat land. Many of his ideas are dear to me and support this blog as the poles under a peer. Their feet in the sand, and the head in the sky.

R.B.KITAJ. Men and Books, 1972 color screenprint, photoscreenprint on dark cream Canson Mongolfier paper 29 5/8 x 21 5/8 in. © R.B. Kitay Estate, Courtesy of LA Louver Venice CA

R.B. KITAJ

The very widespread myth that one’s personal life is irrelevant to the painting. To me, this is one of the least attractive (and most boring) ideas in the art discourse of my lifetime. I believe that a painting is an autonomous thing and at the same time an extension of oneself, a vital organ that got away. 

R.B. KITAJ, Waiting for Lefty, 1974 Color screenprint, photoscreenprint on green double-dipped laminated crushed long-fibred Japanese tissue on unbleached tissue, 36 7/8 x 25 1/8 in. © R.B. Kitaj Estate. Courtesy of LA Louver Venice CA

sometimes my pictures, feeding on art and books, seem to choke from overeating, over-reacting to better painter and writers crowding my walls, piled up on my floors

R.B. KITAJ, Madame Jane Junk, 1972 color screenprint photoscreenprint 27 1/2 x 40 in. © R.B. Kitaj Estate, Courtesy LA Louver Venice CA

I’ve written some short stories or prose-poems for some of my pictures. They have no life apart from the picture. They illustrate the picture the way pictures have always illustrated books in our lives.

R.B. KITAJ, Boss Tweed, 1972 color screenprint, photoscreenprint on dark brown Canson Montgolfier paper, 20 1/8 x 13 in. © R. B. Kitaj Estate. Courtesy LA Louver Venice CA

Robert Lowell’s poetry helped lead me to think an autobiographical art of painting was not only possible but deep in my bones.

R.B. KITAJ, Importing Women for Immoral Purposes, 1978 color screenprint, photoscreenprint on gre-green Barcham Green handmade Dover paper, 25 1/2 x 20 in. © R.B. Kitaj Estate. Courtesy LA Louver Venice CA

Art and adventure are always confused in my life and I can’t get them sorted out.

R.B. KITAJ, The Spirit of the Getto, 1978 color screenprint on buff Barcham handmade Dover paper 16 5/8 x 10 3/8 in. © R.B. Kitaj Estate. Courtesy LA Louver Venice CA

Well, first of all I feel unbalanced most of the time. I guess my art, for what it’s worth, may be largely about this lack of balance, in the disorders and refusals which dislocate or animate it.  Dislocation seems to be an aesthetic mood in my pictures…we never seem to know ourselves well enough.

R.B. KITAJ, On Which Side Are You, ‘Masters of Culture‘? 1975 color screenprint, photoscreenprint on Gold Flitters paper 23 1/16 x 17 7/8 in. © R.B. Kitaj Estate. Courtesy LA Louver Venice CA

“Do you feel not at home  in London?”  Asked Richard Morphet in his interview for the Tate Catalogue. Kitaj replied: “Home is one of those concepts like love and God…which inspire both yearning and mistrust. … I love romance and fantasy. This whole goddamn retrospective is about romance, which is my truest home, and my art lives there with me.  Sometimes I feel at home in London and sometimes not when I get homesick for various fantasies. …

R.B. KITAJ, Jot’em Down Store, 1972 color screenprint, photoscreenprint on dark maroon Canson Montgolfier paper 20 x 14 in. © R.B. Kitaj Estate. Courtesy LA Louver Venice CA

Home is an affair of imagination for me, of which my pictures are both poor reflections and my most hopeful shots. But you have detected something: a sense of loss? Making odd or even wrong choices in life, as in art, becomes an aesthetic.”

R.B. KITAJ, Men of Europe, 1972 color screenprint, photoscreenprint on deep violet Canson Montgolfier paper 29 5/8 x 21 5/8 in. © R.B. Kitaj Estate. Courtesy LA Louver Venice CA

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Fernando Pessoa, Livro do Desassossego, The Book of Disquiet, Translation © 1991  Alfred Mc Adam, Exact Change Edition, Cambridge MA, 1998

Gertrude Stein, The Geographical History of America, Random House 1936, The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London, 1995

R.B. Kitaj, Unpacking My Library, Joods Historisch Museum, Amsterdam, 2015

R.B. Kitaj : A Retrospective, Catalogue Tate Gallery 1994. “Kitaj Interviewed by Richard Morphet”

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Border Ball : THE OTAY MESA PORT OF ENTRY

NOVEMBER 17

“The artist is the servant of need.”

MY WAY OF WALKING WITH JOEL TAUBER, keeping my mind on the road.  RA

Finding a few sensible words to remind that Joel is an artist, and his journey through the border is an art piece. The manners of expressing truths change more than the weather. They must change. The old nest, writes a poet, must be recreated.  

William Carlos William walks with us right now. Surely sun and heat are implacable at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in the middle of the day. The flow of people, in which the artist does not isolate himself, tries to ignore the weather. Stories and game break the cartilage of the border, the inevitable scar tissues. History moves, no one escapes. What’s freedom? It’s an old symbol we take for granted. It was the main symbol when America became the promised land from those who escaped Europe since the beginning of nineteen hundred, and before and after, hoping to leave misery and oppressions behind. 

Today, maybe, it’s good to remind the poet’s precision, suggesting that

“Liberty is the better word. It was liberty they needed, not so much liberty for freedom’s sake but liberty to partake of, to be included in and to conserve. Liberty, in this sense, has the significance of inclusion rather than a breaking away. It is the correct sense for the understanding of America. … But to have liberty one must be first a man, cultured by circumstances to maintain oneself under adverse weather conditions as still part of the whole. Discipline is implied.

But freedom remained the commonly accepted and much copied cliché, implying lack od discipline, dispersion.

The real character of the people is not toward dispersion except for a temporary phase for the gathering of power, but to unite. To form a union. To work toward a common purpose — to resist the weather.”

(William Carlos Williams, Against the Weather – A study of the Artist, 1939)

by JOEL TAUBER

I’m getting ready for the 17th day of Border-Ball: a 40-day pilgrimage along the U.S. – Mexico border. I start each day at noon at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego, California. It’s wonderful to see so many people cross the border, even in the middle of the day – both into the U.S. and into Mexico. There are distinct pathways for trucks, cars, and pedestrians; and each of these pathways are always busy.

I find the fluidity of movement at the port to be extremely beautiful. The constant flow of people from so many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds reminds me that the United States is a place of immigrants and diversity. And, so, I’m often moved to declare:

Oh, say, can you see, our country’s gorgeous dream: an endless field of green, where everyone can live and play? Our star-spangled banner yet waves, over the land of immigrants and the home of us all!

I spend most of my time at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry on the pedestrian bridge, tossing a ball. I introduce myself to people I meet and ask them to share their stories, experiences and thoughts about the border and baseball. Then, we play catch.

The borders between us disappear when I’m listening to their stories. And our connections deepen when we play catch. It’s amazing to me how, even after sharing incredibly sad and heartbreaking stories, people start smiling and laughing once we play catch. All of a sudden, we are friends, playing and laughing together.

We are all on the same team, after all.

People thank me. And, I thank them for connecting with me and for giving me strength to continue my long 7 mile journey each day: from the port of entry, along the wall, and up to the detention center – and then back again.