Exercises in getting closer through distancing.
Updated: Feb 8
Exercises in getting closer through distancing on lost spring, 2020.
The private event was not recorded except through some photographs of the process.
Furthermore, some 13x18 cm cyanotypes remain in private collections, or are scattered.
Cyanotypes were made on watercolor paper, letter envelope, card and explanatory leaflet.
‘Gestures made of air, gestures without continuation, on which our life is built.’
Carla Lonzi, diary, 21st of August 1974
This rather immaterial work took the form of sending several cyanotypies to relatives and friends by mail and was carried out during the 2020 quarantine. It is an attempt to be physically close, rather than virtually connected, to loved ones. It is also an attempt to appropriate, through photography, the transition from winter to spring, which, due to the provisions for the containment of Covid-19, was not possible to live.
While I was locked in the house, I received Alex Cassetti's work by mail, an exhibition consisting of several photographic prints depicting New York’s pavements. I'm not used to receiving personal letters, but experiencing it made me feel so close to the person who sent them, that I too decided to send mails to people I missed.
At the same moment, I experienced vegetation’s and spring’s lack - perhaps because they were banned from me - so I began to study them on books first, to paint them with watercolors, and finally to document them with photography.
The project traces a real line of contact: the cyanotypies are in fact made by placing the subject of the photo - the plants - in contact with the emulsified paper which is impressed with UV solar rays.
Collecting the flowers, preparing and spreading the emulsion, impressing the paper in the sun, developing and drying it, enveloping the photographs and sending them are operations that have been carried out manually. In this way I entrusted to photography what I could not do: greet my friends and relatives through this flowery meadow.
These actions led me to wonder if and where their aesthetic value resided. To some extent, 'cyanotype' objects hold a degree of beauty in them, but they are not the end point of this work.
If traditionally the performance completes the aesthetic value in shifting attention from the result to the creative process, or it reveals new meanings connected to a gesture or it is expressed in the harmony, rhythm, color of the action, or it unfolds in the participation of more people in the creative act, I wonder if the action aimed at creating a private beauty, an emotional beauty, has an aesthetic value which could be ascribed to the artistic sphere.
The emotional beauty here considered would lie in the intention of the performers: in the action of giving an intimate part of themselves; in this case my unfulfilled desires to experience spring and the explication, through the words contained in the letter, of feelings of nostalgia and lack. Beauty is tangible in the emotional experience of the free gift and in welcoming it. The relationship that binds me and the recipients of the gift is not an author / audience relationship, nor a partnership relationship, but a love / friendship relationship that is already in place before the action is completed. The gesture only gives a chance to continue the dialogue between one another. The publication of this movement of free gift and reception, contains the political intentionality of making explicit those gestures which render our lives more beautiful.