IMAGES by YVES TREMORIN
The artist took a picture every day during his home isolation, and sent them by e-mail to his friends.
SPRINGTIME by Rosanna Albertini
“This is a time when it is frightening to be alive, when it is hard to think of human beings as rational creatures. Everywhere we look we see brutality, stupidity, until it seems that there is nothing else to be seen but that—a descent into barbarism, everywhere, which we are unable to check. But I think that while it is true there is a general worsening, it is precisely because things are so frightening we become hypnotized, and do not notice—or if we notice, belittle—equally strong forces on the other side, the forces, in short, of reason, sanity and civilization. … We have the ability to observe ourselves from other viewpoints.”
Doris Lessing, Prisons We Choose to Live Inside, 1987
Lessing’s words drove me to the very far past of humankind, when we hardly knew the difference between humans, plants and the other animals. And opening my primitive instincts I saw each written page like a beehive, buzzing and humming movements of words, fonts, and ideas pressing the tools of language, asking to become honey.
I reread Doris Lessing outside in the sun after six days of rage, fires, shouting—God undoing his week of creation. Yet the garden is still around me, screaming the beauty of spring. Not very far away, in the city, there is a wave of despair exasperated by the repeated, callous harm of a human to another human. As likely as not, frustration was already simmering before the killing that became a burning stamp into the soul of everyone. Maybe there is more, a sort of irrational response to the artificial, although useful, quiet, imposed on our daily lives in contrast to the virulence of the ronawave.
My honey, today, is the mysterious strength of friendship among humans, my uninterrupted friendship with two French artists that neither distance nor time can scratch: Yves Tremorin and Jean-Louis Garnell. In this post and the next post the three of us will be together despite the ocean between us, inviting the readers/viewers to our table.
Homer, and Spinoza, are honey for sure. Compared with them, we work at a tiny scale, releasing blood drops. My Milanese friend Silvia’s e-mails regularly changed my spring days. She is a gallerist now, and a mother, a while ago one of my students of philosophy. Her short messages announced: BEAUTY WILL SAVE US. She sent one image of an art piece, and a few lines disclosing her take on it, a personal attachment to that work. Because Silvia can only reduce her anxiety reading Greek poems and philosophical classics, her words are not about aesthetics, she digs them from within, asking heart, imagination and reason to give us help in this suspended time: “they will listen to us,” she says. I listen to her.
Her six year old son is more concerned with action, not to say practical decisions. After a long day of online schooling at home, from 8.30am to 4pm, slouched in his chair, or disappearing under the table, or desperately asking for friends, he is finally in bed as his mother reads the Iliad to him. After listening, “I’ve decided mamma,” he says, “I will offer myself in sacrifice, so the Gods will understand they have to send the virus away.” In a few minutes he will turn into Zorro, looking for a mask.
Strange to tell, Ed Moses used to paint his abstract pieces with a similar sequence in mind: in 2001 I wrote an imaginary conversation between him and his paintings of that year. “Please forget nature. Thoughts and feelings are my true mine. When I project them onto a physical surface they become God’s fingers awakening dull pieces of matter.” Then mumbling, “God? Let’s say Zorro, he is perhaps a more popular character.” I read this to Ed sitting with him on the bench near his front door, he approved.
Doris Lessing, Prisons We Choose to Live Inside, ©1987 Doris Lessing, New York, Harper & Row, Publishers
Arthur Schnitzler, Relations et Solitudes, Aphorismes, Translation from German by Pierre Deshusses, Paris, Rivages poche Petite Bibliothèque, 1988
Ernst Cassirer, Individuo e cosmo nella filosofia del Rinascimento, 1927. Translation from German by Federico Federici, Firenze, La Nuova Italia editrice, 1974
Homer,The Iliad, Translated by Robert Fagles, Penguin Books, 1990
Rosanna Albertini, White Owls, Artists I found In Los Angeles 1994-2011, Los Angeles, Oreste & Co. Publishers, 2011