There are days, nevertheless, when the sun is out and I get off the beaten path. Now and then, I get to thinking about another way of taking pictures, get to wondering if it would make a difference. I used to photograph landscapes without any people in them but now I picture people who happen to be in a particular place. The Italian beach with its pulsating life is a very rich, fertile ground for the photographer’s 'Peeping Tom' aspect. In the upcoming day’s foggy morning light, I had put long strips of film rolls out, in geometric patterns, and abandoned them on the shore - just like bread crumbs for the pigeons downtown. I wanted people to find something nice and intriguing to puzzle over. Then, I went back to see if the things were still there, or if anyone would have noticed. I’ve set the scenery. I set up the cage. The trawl, a photographer’s Trabucco, was out and ready to haul. And I waited. And I observed the groups of people, the lounging grace with which they wore their swimwear like robes, their sense of always being on display; parading and cat-walking the strip’s sand -- Alas, how thin and insecure is that little beach of white sand we call human consciousness.
Looking into the lens I ask myself: people spot a big black lens, and they worry about what they are doing, or how their hair looks, but nobody sees the person holding the camera. I'm Big Shot and I had fallen hard for the whole gadgetry, eye-like nature of the thing. A tiny piece of glass slowing, bending, organizing light, the film keeping the image like a secret, tucked neatly into the sleek black box, like bugs in a jar. The first cameras had only inventors, buffs and enthusiasts to operate them. Since there were then no professional photographers, there could not be amateurs either. It was a gratuitous, that is, an artistic activity, though with few pretensions to being an art. It was only with its industrialization that photography came into its own as art. What it once took a very intelligent eye to see, anyone can see now. Recently, photography has become almost as widely practiced an amusement as sex and dancing, which means that, like every mass art form, photography is not practiced as an art. Photographers think that everything that is not photographed is lost, as if it never existed, and therefore in order to really live you must photograph as much as you can, and to photograph as much as you can you must either live in the most photographable way possible, or else consider photographable every moment of your life.
Hopeful eyes, happy smiles, soft hands, million dreams – is this not the identity of a child? Then why do I see tear filled eyes, terrified faces, rough hands and shattered dreams? Deprived of their childhood. Overloaded with work. Burdened with responsibility. At such a young age. Put a smile back on my face. Give me the childhood that was stolen from me. So much to learn. So much to accomplish. But not given enough time! I am young, I am seven years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. We are not youth any longer. We are no longer young men. We have lost any desire to conquer the world. We do not want to take the world by storm. We are refugees. We are fleeing. We are fleeing from ourselves. From our lives. We are forlorn like children and experienced like old men. Now we would wander around like strangers in those landscapes of our youth. We have been consumed in the fires of reality, we are free of care no longer. We might be present in that world, but would we be alive in it?
I wandered in the wintry streets of a port, in the low quarter of some city. The streets were muddy. I wandered through the long, frozen and somber corridors in the emptiness of a deserted district: a quarter which might almost have been dead, abruptly abandoned. I was alone, subjected to the stares of mannequins seated in their tall shop windows or huddled in doorways, whose eyes seemed to ransack my very soul. They did not speak to me. They were silent. And they were all exactly alike! They might have been huge marionettes, left behind in panic – for I divined that some plague, some frightful epidemic, had swept through the town and emptied it of its inhabitants. I was alone with these simulacra of femininity. I had already been wandering for hours without being able to find a way out of that miserable quarter, obsessed by the fixed and varnished eyes of all those automata, when I was seized by the sudden thought that all these puppets were dead women, plague-stricken and putrefied by cholera where they stood, in the solitude, beneath their plaster masks. And my entrails were liquefied by cold. In spite of that harrowing chill, I was drawn closer to a motionless girl. I saw that she was indeed wearing a mask, and the one in the next window was also masked, and all of them were horribly alike under their identical crude coloring. I was alone with the masks, with the masked corpses, when, all of a sudden, I perceived that beneath the false faces of plaster and cardboard, the eyes of these dead dolls were alive; their vitreous eyes were looking at me -- and in that unique moment I had recognized all the women.
Without the sincerity of your heart you would not be able to capture this moment of my being. What you were looking for, and what you found in me, and what you see, is just the sun at dawn. Shy, I get up with the morning light, innocent and natural. At this moment there is no color to distract us, black and white, so are our souls, motionless. I’m afraid of you; afraid of waking up in a world where man desires with violence. I stay away from your desires. Shy, wild, even rebellious, do not fool yourself - my youth doesn’t lack maturity. My hair covers my face as ivy covers the ruins of our ancestral ties. I am a woman. When you photograph me you immortalize our meeting, my eyes take you away to my mouth, I’d like to whisper ‘I love you’, for I perceive the truth in your heart. I would give everything, give my life, give up any vigilance towards you; but you still make me afraid – I do not understand your world. And I raise my shoulder to hide what I would tell you, yet I know I love you, like water flowing, like the wind that blows. But you cannot realize it; it’s because of this distance that I have to put between you and me. That’s why you see me shy at first -- but I really am! ~ Isabelle Couquiaud
The saxophone is the cocaine of the woodwind family. Saxophonists are admired because they are dangerous; because they have explored a darker, more sinister side of themselves. The saxophone speaks the language of the underground, the jaded melancholy of the half-light, grimy and sexy and sweaty and hard. It is the language of orphans and bastards and whores. I’ve been out on that open road, singing in the old bars, swinging with the old cars. That’s the way the road dogs do it. That’s the way I make my life an art. I grab my coat, I grab my sax, I'm restless. Things are calling me away. My hair is being pulled by the stars again. To hell, to hell with balance! I break glasses; I want to burn, even if I break myself. I want to live only for ecstasy. I’m neurotic, perverted, destructive, fiery, dangerous - lava, inflammable, unrestrained. Winter of my life, let’s ride. Don’t take me home again, take me to a new land. I’ve been traveling too long. I’ve been trying too hard, with one pretty song. I can escape to the great sunshine, make it out to the other side. Drugs, suck it up like Vanilla Ice-ys, treat me really nice-ys. My eyes are wide like cherry pies. I was born to live fast, die young, live my life on the run. Oh, my God, I feel it in the air. I’m on fire, I feel it everywhere, wonder if this is it, it’s darkest before dawn. I fall asleep in an American flag. I’m Miss America, now I’m gone. I’m Miss America -- now I’m free.
A week and a day on dusty tracks. Tough and wild hard core racing. Tired eyes, but still wild at heart. Dirty, hungry, worn out, unwashed, but never without a lipstick and always with a little smile for the paparazzin' photographers. In less enlightened times the best way to impress women was to own a hot car but women wised up and realized it was better to buy their own hot cars so they would not have to ride around with jerks. I have always been a fast driver, even before I could afford a fast car. It was impatience as much as anything: chafing at the fact that I could not actually do anything while driving - except to drive. Riding a hot car is a lot like hot sex to me, or a lot like I keep thinking hot sex should be: a total body experience, overwhelming, to all the senses, taking you to places you have never been, packing a punch that leaves you breathless and touches your soul. I like that, and of course, I liked that car. I remembered thinking I wanted to hear this roaring engine and feel its vibrating power. I also figured one wild ride in the car would take the edge off. But two-hundred forty horsepower is not enough to move me anymore -- enough to move my body, yes, but not my soul.
Is a picture really worth a thousand words? What thousand words? A thousand words from a lunatic, or a thousand words from Nietzsche? Actually, Nietzsche was a lunatic. And what about a thousand words from a rambler vs. 500 words from Mark Twain? Photographs, which cannot themselves explain anything, are inexhaustible invitations to deduction, speculation, and fantasy. Standing alone, photographs promise an understanding they cannot deliver. In the company of words, they take on meaning, but they slough off one meaning and take on another with alarming ease. In contrast to the written account – which, depending on its complexity of thought, reference, and vocabulary, is pitched at a larger or smaller readership – a photograph has only one language and is destined potentially for all visual readers. Many photos may speak a thousand words, but only a few may contain a whole, comprehensive library.
I drove all night and arrived at yesterday. Or could it be the day before? The daguerre'd past can grow foggy for a girl that does not check rear-view mirrors. Planning for this trip never occurred to me, so here I am pondering what I will do with this rare chance at rewriting my story. I knew it was a trip I would have to undertake, my heart would not have it any other way; this stubborn part of me that refuses defeat, that stays here, that refuses to leave, to fade. I feel him here in this place, a lingering phantom. Oh, I might say many things, but I very well may turn this car around and go find a new company. After all, we already tried this, didn’t we? I think I will venture out on my own. Maybe there is something in yesterday that I missed the first time around. It would be a shame to waste this opportunity. Although, I would have to drive far to find a day that does not have his scent. I am not sure if the road will ever lead away from him. I will not fight destiny, if I end up on his street, I will take love’s gift to me. For now, I am laid back. I will stay in this moment and soak up yesterday's sun, feeling his revenant eyes on my bare thighs, our hearts on the run. ~ Francesca