“When we drift, we drift in short bursts tethered to the imagined shores of our domestic chains”
When we drift, we drift in short bursts tethered to the imagined shores of our domestic chains. The waves reach knee-deep before the tide allows us frolic or adventure and ever-so-slowly, there is a pull, a resounding yank of our chain that retreats our form back to the shore and back to our interior domestic world. Curfews called and curtains drawn, safety has been numerated. They say the every home is castle and yet away from the soft and lulling ocean tide, it is simply put, an attempt at an idyllic prison where coffee is constant and similarly toilet paper is short.
There is no particular coordination to the pandering solution that my feet present to me in my present condition. I never used to think of the idea of a collective body, but there is no other resolute way in which to gather my thoughts. The term collective is almost always arranged in trauma or memory, isn’t it? As if to suggest that pain lingers when it is to be re-imagined at all. And in this moment, I can think of nothing else-bodies aligned and inhabiting domiciles like some bizarre termite or ant colony-a volcano of dirt waiting to be flooded with the misery of an over-imaginative spring rain. Our anima is thus compact, collective and conditioned to an obnoxious dripping sound fevered like time on those many vines sliding down each knotted surface looking to hit bottom.
I don’t think you would be the first set of tired bones that I have seen, the parchment resembling the hand of your skin sloughs and your circumcised teeth make way without much success into the moist flesh of a beetroot cooked, boiled and drained over the sink kitchen. Did I myself hear you wrong? It doesn’t matter, lucky are we these beetroots and leaves; a softly perpendicular backup band for the hoarding baring down on our thoughts. In this condition even the mass of hair we once assembled as a dog is looking waifish, magazine-cut and intolerant to the whimpers whims of my persistent whinge and your jaundiced reflection. In woods, it has beckoned the tangled mass of degenerative wolf bait. I wish this winter would stop the bruising thoughts.
“I don’t think you would be the first set of tired bones that I have seen, the parchment resembling the hand of your skin sloughs and your circumcised teeth make way without much success into the moist flesh of a beetroot cooked, boiled and drained over the sink kitchen”
I am wary of the raft of pandemic books waiting to hatch in the year 2021. or 2022, perhaps because we are nowhere near clear of this picnic as I pen this lyric. I am mostly wary from the position of the future, not the present. It seems fitting that we do our best to bludgeon our creativity into some order of acceptance of the moment. It would be hard not to notice the condition for which we persist in this environment, an emphasis particularly relegated to countries with fairly severe lockdowns such as Italy. Most of the books forthcoming will not be successful and to be perfectly clear, the last thing I want to look at is some artist’s interpretation of the moment after it has passed. I am feeling the fatigue of this beast and I have had it comparatively easy must I say.
Ballad of Woods and Wounds is a different kind of book. It was delivered during the first year of the pandemic and assembled by the great team of studioFaganel with a smart sequence by the artists and Sara Occhipinti. In short summation, the book is a collaboration between artist/photographer Tomas Clavarino and artist/illustrator Patrizio Anastasi. The book in places reads like a call and respond effort in which each artist works with what the other has presented them from their respective mediums. I of course read the drawings as being made after the photographs, but I am old enough to know that might be my own biases at work. The drawings themselves are quite unusual, alien and somehow mimic the forms of the photographs, but are relegated to a strange and new symbology-a synecdoche in which fragments of one image are reduced from the other forming a hybrid solution. I can imagine our current pandemic bombing us back to the cave and these illustrations being used to tell the story of the virus.
The photographs by Clavarino remind me of dusk. There is a stopped down orange autumn leaf-like palette that reminds me in places of the work of Robbie Lawrence. Its pretty much just the orange, and some tree branches which are not exclusive to Lawrence. I also use it. It is away to salute the fading light and it in places feels like a smart literary device in the sequence. The images themselves are beautiful. There is a threat to them, or perhaps it is a feeling of solitude. It is getting hard to tell about images in my present condition. Everything feels a little lonely even when surrounded by family etc. The basis for the book and these images is that they were made during the early part of the Covid experience when lockdown presented few options to Europeans. Those of us lucky enough to be in a rural environment or close to nature have been shown some leniency and been allowed to walk in wooded parks and forests. The idea is that contact would be minimal and fresh air great. Without this, I suspect a great number of people would have lost their rag. These pictures are a reflection of that.
Ballad of Woods and Wounds is smart book in that it does not over-dwell on the obvious, but rather asks the viewer to consider the atmosphere of freedom and what this experience has meant in terms of our ability to be out and away from the confining and shrinking walls of the home. I fully believe the next Covid-free years will present many lesser attempts to explain the moment in retrospect. This is a book that emphasizes the moment, but it is also quick to neutralize its overall pain. I would suggest that it is a strong collaboration and that it is incredibly rewarding to see the use of illustrations and the direct collaboration of photographs and drawings in such a manner. It builds intrigue and lifts the effort out of the strictly photographic for which these tired eyes are grateful. Recommended.
(All Rights Reserved. Text @ Brad Feuerhelm. Images @ Tomaso Clavarino and Patrizio Anastasi)