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!

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