MOTHER AND DAUGHTER

Yves Trémorin’s HOMMAGE à L’OMBRE – IN PRAISE of SHADOW

by Rosanna Albertini

Ce n’est pas l’indifférence qui enlève le poids de l’image … c’est l’amour, l’amour extreme.
It is not indifference that lifts the image’s weight … it is love, extreme love.
(Roland Barthes)

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Photographs by YVES TREMORIN
from two series: Mother and Daughter and Mystic Garden

I will never know if the name of things is stronger than their physical presence, if it adds meaning to the surrogate images of what’s naturally ‘visible.’ I’m not even sure that the best photographs and films are meant to reassure our mind about the truth of what we see, for instance.

Yves Trémorin, magic fisher and maker of images in Saint Malo, Bretagne, often gives me the impression he’s taking details from bodies he loves as if he had his eyes closed, and in such way he could let the details escalate his mental touch, his effort to capture the unique, ungraspable presence of women he knows, from which he was born. It’s a fact.

He photographed his grandmother in 1984, when she was ninety-one. And his mother now, in 2017, ninety-one years old. Right now, their images share the same age, look at them now and here they are: mother, daughter. A son looks at them, reveals the power of their nameless presence: women, first of all.

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They are living molecules of vision. There existence, like the stem of a flower, a leaf wrinkled by her journey through life. If natural existence is the subject, their body, a female body, finds a powerful stance in the space of art. If it is nor clear who’s who, as they are both mother and daughter, we focus, instead, on their appearance surrounded by shadows, by all the stories and times that we do not know that feed their images and were their lives. We start dreaming about those images: the woman lost in her flowered dress comes from mythological times, she is Eve in her old age, still offering something mysterious, not an apple, it can be a piece of bread or a snake. She smiles. Would you take it?

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Existence in art is artificial, construction and translation. Also in photography: “an art which is not certain, and is as uncertain as science would be, were it working on desirable or despicable bodies … impossible science of unique beings.” (Roland Barthes)

The artist is an eye, a ear, a nose, so is the viewer. Suppose things abandoned by names, and you will have a landscape of anonymous presences. The only reality they have is the perceived present: for them there is no such thing as the future. Don’t forget the person behind the camera. He explores the shadows: his profile projected on the wall repeats his mother profile. The two shadows face each other in silence; we close the eyes, it stays in us.

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The best images I keep of my mother are not photographs. Her beautiful hands, the shape of her feet geometrically perfect because the middle toe was longer than the big toe, as in the Greek statues, are printed in my mind and bring back my extreme love for her along with a blow of darkness. Her past life shakes me, unrequested.

By the way mother, were you a virgin when you got married and immediately conceived me? As long  as you were alive, I never felt we lived on the same planet, although our bodies were unmistakably shaped in the same mold and your round shoulders made me always think of Helen of Troy. I don’t want you to be blamed forever as she has been, am I the only one in the dark? Perhaps something was muddy in your husband, father of mine. He did not go to your funeral, never puts flowers on your grave. Love must have been a needle with a thread in the eye: day by day sewing through the hole of the mood, to fix a fabric incessantly yielding. Please don’t pinch me, stories begin with a phantom.

A couple of new leaves on the cumquats shake their greenness to the morning, like wings getting ready to take off. A phantom flower blooms in my mind, it’s for you.

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Roland Barthes, La chambre claire, Note sur la photographie, Gallimard, le Seuil, 1980

Flag in the Water

F L A G   I N   T H E   W A T E R

SIMONE FORTI in the Rice River (Northern Minnesota)

July 27, 2015 

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SIMONE FORTI,  Flag in the Water, video 19’46” 2015.  Cinematography Jason Underhill

Courtesy of the artist and  The Box Gallery, Los Angeles
(All the images are stills from the video, kindly provided by Jason Underhill)

N A K E D  F E E T   O N   T H E   G R O U N D

by Rosanna Albertini

Written and printed words had to be dry because water melts the paper. But I would like to write on the   paper when it’s wet and see the words expand like corals or marine anemones for a while until softened, melted, they let go the strength of their meanings. And truths often thrown like stones would have the look of washed out shadows.

My goddess is Simone Forti: the old woman who builds figures of speech, silent, dragging the soaked body of an American flag back to one day of our life, an uneventful day in the brownish water of the Rice River: July 27, 2015. The sky seems to frown, covering the scene with a handful of clouds as the day goes on. In front of the artist, beyond the two banks covered with trees, is the illusory point where the small river hands over his entire body of water to the bigger, Mississippi brother.

Even cut in two parts, the flag is heavy. Simone is a frail woman already carrying eight decades and the strongest figure at the same time: she is a vessel of freedom. For one day, the flag is her personal companion. It floats under the surface like a lover who invites her to lie down on her his its chest and close her eyes, to feel their new and welcomed union. “Myths are the soul of our actions and love.” (Paul Valéry). A soaked flag is much closer to human heaviness, to the liquid chemistry of our brain and blood. As Simone embraces the fabric, holds it underwater maybe sharing with the flag the impression they can both be deaf and blind for a moment, a million of unwritten stories, around that summer day, have vanished in the thin air. The real bodies rocked by the waves as many plankton forms, have been absorbed into the fabric. They were bodies searching for freedom.

 

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Rivers are roads that walk and bring us where we want to go.” (Blaise Pascal) The stars on the flag drive Simone’s eyes to the sky, the stripes drip down like blood. Simone is withdrawn, perhaps moving away from the sharpness of the news, sometimes they sound like bullets. Her body in movement is a fullness of feelings channelled into a slow motion physical language, which does almost savor the quality of each gesture.  A horse appears on the bank, bringing Roland Barthes, the prince of subtleties. Both horse and chevalier stop and look at Simone. “That’s the real pleasure, the moment in which my body will follow its own ideas — for my body has ideas different from my owns.” And puff! he disappears.

Simone doesn’t see the intruders. Completely absorbed as she is into the secret effort of bringing back the symbol of freedom, the national dress of her country to human actions and love. Out of the water, she folds the fabric with care, always keeping the bundle pressed on her breast. Then, for no particular reasons, she picks up a burned stick from the floor and traces a few lines on the double, wet flag.

For memory and art now, in the caves, naked feet on the ground.

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IN PRAISE OF DELICACY

ART, THREE WOMEN, AND A BRAID: Corazon Del Sol, Eugenia Perpetua Butler, Eugenia Butler

by Rosanna Albertini

CORAZON DEL SOL, three lives in one braid, 2015 Courtesy of the artist

CORAZON DEL SOL, three lives in one braid, 2015  braided hair
Courtesy of the artist

(This art piece by Corazon Del Sol has been made for The Kite)

“My mother was…” Corazon Del Sol sorts out threads of memories that wind through her feelings, “she was a great artist entirely devoted to fragility and vulnerability.” Her mother was Eugenia Perpetua Butler. While she unfolds page by page of her mother’s 14 by 17 black notebook, drawings, as well as dreams pinned down in words, are lit by her voice, they take off. Silently, my own mother’s stories evaporate from my brain at the same time. Corazon and her mother often slept in the same bed, often sharing only one room, in Central America or California. I never slept in my mother’s bed. I’m only saying that to work with an artist is very different from scientific observation. As new stories come into play, they instantly pinch the threads of my own stories, distant and incongruous experiences merge into a new integration almost by themselves. Perhaps we only imagine ourselves, Corazon and I, as if we knew something.

“There is something universal here; not just something personal.” Ludwig Wittgenstein would say, On Certainty, 440.

The only thing we know for sure is that our mothers are in our body: in the same way Eugenia Butler the gallerist was in Eugenia Perpetua’s body. The month after she passed away my mother was so strongly in my body that I had to ask her to leave, even the mirror showed her more than me.

But re-turning to our mothers we can feel in touch, if not really knowing, with our instinctual identity. Conflicts keep it crispy. “? Who is the stranger in myself” – E. Perpetua’s question, and struggle: “The idea is that you force yourself to execute an almost impossible task under unlikely circumstances.” “Art is not a will which is intellect but being and intent.” “Like many of my generation we found ourselves caught inside a historical envelope that we never understood…we seldom know each other and can only guess, guess at the lives that…” Yes Eugenia Perpetua, I could say the same. I was born two years earlier. I hope you don’t mind if I skip details of your life and of your mother’s life. Things didn’t turn out well, you told me. Yet you had a daughter, and I remember, uttering her name your eyes did smile. I’m avoiding local circumstances, art history episodes. Simply I call you back as an artist, the secret artist you entrusted to your black notebooks, and I’m trying to give back to you the same token of ‘amorous and civilized’ signs you left in your secret books: the art of delicacy. Somebody* told that delicacy is the artistic form of compassion, ‘it touches lightly.‘

EUGENIA P. BUTLER, A page from her notebook about the nineties. Courtesy of Corazon Del Sol

EUGENIA P. BUTLER, A page from her notebook about the nineties.
Courtesy of Corazon Del Sol

EUGENIA P. BUTLER, A page from her notebook about the nineties Courtesy of Corazon del Sol

EUGENIA P. BUTLER, A page from her notebook about the nineties
Courtesy of Corazon del Sol

Among your cut papers I found a small report which is like everything else, impossible to classify as a fact, or to detect how reliable it is. Let’s keep it in the black box of your feelings, with the meaning it had for you:

An IBM scientist and his colleagues have

discovered a way to make an object

disintegrate in one place and reappear intact

in another.

It seems to me you are reappearing in your daughter’s art. Through you, also her grandmother the gallerist reappears. Let me paraphrase Roland Barthes’s glorification of love: Love has no specific place, neither in our spoken words or written arguments. Love is the ultimate escapist we can talk about only if we consider it a beyond evaluation treasure we put aside for when we are lost. Every kind of discourse about love is always addressed to somebody. “A person whom one addresses, though this person may have shifted to the condition of a phantom or a creature still to come. No one wants to speak of love unless it is FOR someone.”

As in the braid, there’s no beginning or ending in this post, no separation between images, art, documents and lives. There is, feelings.

EUGENIA BUTLER (Corazon Del Sol grandmother) Letter to Giuseppe Panza, January  22, 1970. Courtesy of Corazon Del Sol

EUGENIA BUTLER (Corazon Del Sol grandmother) Letter to Giuseppe Panza, January 22, 1970.
Courtesy of Corazon Del Sol

The letter is now at The Getty Research Institute, Special collection. I received detailed information about it from Francesca Guicciardi  and Giuseppina Panza, daughter in law and daughter of Giuseppe Panza. They both take care of the Panza Collection. In January 1970 Giuseppe Panza wrote to Eugenia Butler searching for artworks by conceptual artists. This is the first answer, another followed in February offering more pieces. Photographs of the pieces were included.

In May 1970 Panza bought from  Eugenia Butler four artworks by Douglas Huebler: Duration Piece 14, Salisbury, New Hampshire, October 1968 and Location Piece #9, New England, March 1969. Location Piece #1, New York – Los Angeles, February 1969 and Duration Piece #12, Venice California – Plum Island, (Newburyport) Massachusetts, May 1969. – Between end of May and end of July he will purchase also an artwork and a drawing on paper by Joseph Kosuth: Twenty-Five Works in a Context as one Work (Special Investigation), July 1969, (on stickers); Project for Seven Square Grey Painting on Canvas with Words as Art, 1966, (drawing).

* Roland Barthes, Fragments d’un discours amoureux, 1977,  A Lover’s Discourse – Fragments, 1978, Translated by  Richard Howard.

MEMENTOS

 SAM ERENBERG : HISTORY IN WATERCOLORS

by Rosanna Albertini

As a (modern) divinity, History is repressive. History forbids us to be out of time. Of the past we tolerate only the ruin, the monument, kitsch, what is amusing: we reduce this past to no more than its signature. (Roland Barthes)

 

Chicago 1921: Court of Honor and Grand Basin

Chicago 1921: The Chicago World’s Fair. The Columbian Exposition: Court of Honor and Grand Basin (from Wikipedia)

Queen Nzinga in peace negotiations with the Portuguese governor in Luanda, 1657 (from Wikipedia)

Angola. Queen Nzinga in peace negotiations with the Portuguese governor in Luanda, 1657
(from Wikipedia)

Golf of Sidra incident August 1981: A U.S. Navy McDonnell F-4J Phantom II escorting a Libyan Mikoyan-Gurevitch, M i G-23.

Libya. Golf of Sidra incident  in August 1981: A U.S. Navy McDonnell F-4J Phantom II escorting a Libyan Mikoyan-Gurevitch, M i G-23. (from Wikipedia)

1953, Iranian coup d'état. Overthrowing the democratically elected prime minister Mohammad Moraddegh replaced by an absolute monarch, Shah Reza Palhavi.  Tehran men celebrate the coup. (from Wikipedia)

1953, Iranian coup d’état overthrowing the democratically elected prime minister Mohammad Moraddegh, replaced by an absolute monarch, Shah Reza Palhavi. Tehran men celebrate the coup.
(from Wikipedia)

West Virginia 1921: The Mine Wars between coal companies and miners. Photo: Coal miners displaying a bomb that was dropped during the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921. (from Wikipedia)

Egypt 1956: Suez crisis. Israel invades Egypt, followed by Britain and France. Photo: Damaged Egyptian equipment. (from Wikipedia)

Egypt 1956: Suez crisis. Israel invades Egypt, followed by Britain and France.
Photo: Damaged Egyptian equipment. (from Wikipedia)

Snapshots might be History’s appropriate marks, one shot in time from which we pick up the illusion we know what happened that very moment, it has to do with remembering and forgetting, occupying but not interesting, so says Gertrude Stein.

Think of WRITING as neither remembering nor forgetting, neither beginning nor ending, and I would say that PAINTING works the same way.  With photographic documents or photo journalism we are forced to consider, precisely, which side we are on. Wars and violence break our mental shields. Mysterious snapshots need a great many words to describe an event that is not in our memory except maybe for a name, a date, or less. But here I’m interested in Gertrude’s a-synchronous thinking. She places writing out of time. So does Sam Erenberg’s painting. Did Roland Barthes like her writing? Probably not he was not American. But Gertrude and Sam they both grew up as American Jews.

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, Libya 1981, Watercolors on paper, Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, Libya 1981, Watercolor, 16 x 12 inc., 2008
Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, Egypt 1956, Watercolors on paper, Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, Egypt 1956, Watercolor, 16 x 12 inc., 2008
Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, Angola 1976, Watercolors on paper,  Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, Angola 1976, Watercolor, 16 x 12 inc., 2008
Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, Chicago 1892, Watercolor on paper,  Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, Chicago 1892, Watercolor, 16 x 12 inc., 2008
Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, Iran 1953,Watercolor on paper, Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, Iran 1953, Watercolor, 16 x 12 inc., 2008
Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, West Virginia 1920, Watercolors on paper, Courtesy of the artist

SAM ERENBERG, Mementos, West Virginia 1920, Watercolor, 16 x 12 inc., 2008
Courtesy of the artist

Is it by arbitrary choice that artist Sam Erenberg diluted in watercolors all the thoughts in his mind for each historical event he found interesting over the last one hundred years? Destroying the likeness of images and facts, and letting only one word and one date marking the painting like a wound? Is it by accident that The Making of Americans was 925 pages (first paperback edition 1966) of family stories in a tapestry of feelings and behaviors if you go to the bottom of them the same kind in every time, therefore free from dates and memorable events? Unofficial history with her mind fluttering through the sameness of being human it doesn’t matter when, maybe a little more where.

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven images, or any likeness of any thing…” (Exodus 20:4)

Sam’s mind has a need of words. They are shadows, calligraphic stills of a landscape, a human land in which we get lost. Call it history, it doesn’t make it more limpid, or readable. If each event were a tree, we could imagine us in it’s shadow, trying to share the same umbrella, engaging the most impersonal connection. Diluted in watercolors, history has entered the artist’s perception. His mind gives back a physical surface. Painted events are just colors in movement, signs that filled for a while an artist’s cave, his mind with no time nor identity, so “when it sees anything has to look flat.” (G.S.) The event was melted in his eyes. 

 

Dance of ideas for a woman with a blue guitar

Is this BLOG an experiment? I doubt it. It’s not a reasonable, predictable space. Words can be heavy. Stones, they were called. How to love them?

A place of pleasure, that’s my goal. Encounters and exchanges about art and life. A selected group of people will come and play the thinking game. They will send their thoughts by e-mail. We might be read by the global village. Let’s give them pleasure! Let’s learn to be light. Fleeting and temporary, at least for one year. Personal, fearless, bringing out uncertainties, pauses and hesitations, conflicts and doubts. Most of the artworks reveal idiosyncratic states of mind that are not allowed to writers: no smoking in the toilette during the flight! Unless they are poets.

I was an Eighteenth-century philosophy scholar who turned into a journalist and a maker of hand-sewn books. So my hands give the books a body as the secluded princesses of the old tales, making their lovers’ body with flour and water. None of them have a beating heart. Lack of love makes me sick. Lack of confidence, same effect. Plaintive commentaries about climate and institutional collapse are a black mask on my eyes. Reality is painted black. But The Arts keep me alive. Meredith Monk sings without words, only voice and feelings. I wish we could write like she sings.

No yes, no, I like, dislike, no evaluations. Intelligent kindness. No aggression nor rivalry. Reading, writing, “an exchange of desire becomes possible, of an enjoyment that was not foreseen. Games are not done, let’s play.” (Roland Barthes) Wind and earthquakes shake our landscape. Los Angeles is luminous in the middle of April. We can wear the on-line dress, all the possible colors and shapes, because ideas have colors, if someone cares. The kite needs hands holding the thread as well as the winds and the sky; it needs tension, inside and outside.

“I play them on a blue guitar / And then things are not as they are. / The shape of the instrument  / Distorts the shape of what I meant, / Which takes shape by accident. / Yet what I mean I always say. / The accident is how I play./  I still intend things as they are. / The greenish quaverings of day /  Quiver upon the blue guitar. (Wallace Stevens)