Sunday, 8 November 2009

.Unfinished Sympathy

When I was little, I was minor. Lying in bed at night, I was looking at pictures, condensing the universe to the size of my room. Utterly alone, I was drifting among planets, the ceiling was opening up, saints were talking to me, corpses were playing hide and seek in the dark and in silence’s great awe I was hoping for just one thing: someone to share the magic and the oddities of what I was experiencing, confess to the world what was inspiring and what was frightening me. Was it a display? Loneliness? An exorcism? I never figured out. I just knew that if I wasn’t to talk, I would choke. And I still feel like choking up, unless I grab a camera or a pen. Then, my blood’s lap dies out and all things are revealed.

Nowadays I am not in my room anymore. And I grew up. With me dreams grew up, words and pictures multiplied. If those who say “Artists create in order to feel loved” are true, then it is not me who grew up, but my need to be loved. Eyes never change colour. Only their way of looking at things changes with time. It was then that I figured out I couldn’t keep cheating on myself. So, I hit the road. And I got lost. And the more I was getting lost the more I was finding me. So, I kept losing my way while repeating, ‘Unwind my heart. Unknown places we’ll reach, through roads yet obscure’. And some friends helped me fit the dreams in suitcases, because whenever I was packing alone, my suitcases were turning out overweight and I couldn’t travel.

And so I came to London to find myself, but in ten million people where do you start? Images followed me while I kept growing up. With me, I took a few photographs of people close to me and plenty of somebody for whom I once had lost my sleep for, proof that pictures exist not only to be reminiscent of times and places, but also to help us forget. And I needed that memo of amnesia, an artifact that I once loved and almost died for someone unworthy. Being here, I found reasons to save pictures once again. Brave new pictures, brave different pictures and a sag in my heart (from happiness?) made room for new lovers, new friends and brand new roads as well. But in every fairytale, a twist exists and even if mine was yet to be revealed, I had to create one. I am an artist after all!

Fast forward to last May when I went back to Greece for 4 months, took photographs with a small part of many random grey buildings and a large part of a certain clear blue sky and realized simultaneously that no matter how far I was running, every image was to be added in my diminishing treasures: my love stories, my thirty years, the place I grew up and a couple of people I once loved, but were dead by now. Everything I ever wanted to possess. An archive engraved into my DNA that repeatedly projects all of my life’s stories, my ever-changing body and my grandmother’s smile, which I slowly begin to forget.

Almost like love letters (where words matter, while ink and paper are of no importance), in photographs bodies and smiles mean nothing at all. People in them make the news. Because as a rule, pictures lie. Yes, my grandmother was always smiling in my birthdays next to me. What of it? Does that mean she was happy without her dead husband and her buried son? And how happy could my cousin be in that picture of her at the school yard, when two months later she would turn her back to the world and become a nun? But somehow like being in the dark for quite a while until you suddenly begin to see, photographs’ many lies always lead you to a certain truth: memory fades, but a picture will always linger, a reminder of the huge space my grandmother and my cousin still occupy in me. A piece of paper beauty, forever mine to keep.

Unfortunately, my kind of beauty was never easy. It is as Baudelaire would say, “Something blazing and unhappy, a bit vague and mysterious, open to various interpretations and sorrow – to an extent that makes you wonder if beauty without sadness can actually exist”. This is why whenever I face beauty, I bleed.

This explains why I kept aching, as I was photographing her.

I am talking (but words fail me) about my lady in gold, the woman I met by chance in early autumn at the Acropolis. Weather was far from raining that night but in my soaking heart she managed, with her unbearable and almost deathly beauty, to leave a mess. Her feral strangeness beamed under a dim spotlight as her torn, gold bloodied uniform and veiled face gained an extra layer of twinkle. It felt as if I had shed several layers of skin and I was walking around her like an open wound. In front of something so authentic and unique, you can’t do much but record it. A revelation of the highest kind. Like Japanese poets captivate the spirit of summer within three lines, she briefly summarized the loneliness, the uniqueness and the nostalgia of all the memories I have forever lost and which my futile efforts cannot capture in any other form or shape. Furthermore, she summarized me. More than any photograph of mine ever did. Even now, in absentia, her foreboding chill still creeps into my bones and even in silence, she’s deafening; the sound of a body being thrown out of a window: entirely without hope, of this world, or the next, or the previous one. I mumbled ‘Thank you’, she nodded approval and we parted.

Sometimes photography is useless, I thought later on. Instead of taking pictures, you should always tell the ones you love how you feel, in case you never see them again.
Post a Comment