Blow up | Ana Serratosa
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Art gallery, Valencia (Spain)

Blow up

Blow up
Bernardí Roig
May 2012

"Blow up"

Blow up(…) As Actaeon goes deeper into the forest, in the same scene, Diana, the suspended Goddess of Motherhood, tired of her long trips, has just reached the fountain of pure water, to senselessly bathe naked for another summit, senseless since the Gods do not sweat or are ever hot.

Actaeon carries on further into the forest with his dogs. Thomas, who they did not want to sell the landscape portrait to, decides in an act of bravery, to go with his camera to find the landscape himself. With determination, and without any kind of misgiving, goes to Maryon Park in the London district of Woolwich, where, and buffeted by the gentle gusts of wind, he sees what he should never have seen. Both of them, Actaeon and Thomas, whether aware or not or the conflict that can arise between stubborn looks and nature, are both hunters and are hungry, one for prey and the other for images. Both will pay the price of their boldness and of the daring act of looking.

If it is true that what we see is what looks at us, we should also assume that what we do not see is precisely what does not stop looking at us. But we do not know that yet. Once back at his studio, says Thomas the photographer, to the models: I do not want to see you with your eyes open, they look like cracks. Close your eyes! Close your eyes and stay like that! He goes then and deals with his uncertainty and comes back on scene later. He then asks his assistant:

Are they still waiting with their eyes closed?

Yes, they are waiting with their eyes open.

Tell them to close their eyes again!

We open our eyes and do not see anything. We close our eyes and suddenly we see it all. Not all, we only see what we had hidden and stored under those heavy marble eyelids.

The character Thomas, the photographer, in the film by Antonioni, is inspired on Thomas the Obscure, from the novel by Blanchot, both sustain that what characterises an image is the impossibility of it coming about. And both share the same wound as Actaeon: The eye. An eye badly hurt by darkness.

The three of them know that what is not looked at does not happen and that looking is the only thing that guarantees events. They also know that one can only take a look from obsession and the most extreme degree of loneliness, loneliness that explodes like an exploding stomach in the same way that a range of silences can fill our mouths.

Not in Maryon Park in the London district of Woolwich, but in Parc Tournay-Solvay in the district of Boitsfort in Brussels, there is a castle, the Château Solvay.

The butler of the Solvay family, a non-confessed homosexual, fat, white and with several nervous ticks, keen on looking and photographing what he saw and what he did not see, saw, as happens constantly, what he should not have seen. His casual lover, the sculptor, Jean Pierre K., former lover of Leidy B., as expected, sick of jealousy chiselled by his mediocrity and insecurity, did not see, but did imagine, which is worse still, betrayal. Brutally subjected to the ire caused by what he did not see, but imagined, and in the middle of the wish of a summery tomorrow, delivered a final blow to his lover’s head, severing it from his body and burning the castle.

Now, in Parc Tournay-Solvay in the district of Boitsfort in Brussels, there is a burnt castle. There is also a lake, a footpath, several tracks crossing it, some enormous black poplars and a beautiful rosier. Surely there is also a dead body. I would even dare to say that perhaps there are several dead bodies.

We know the theme is bait and that the dead bodies, that of the decapitated butler of the Solvay family never appeared, are just sculptures in a public area. But the dream is different: a number of sculptures in a public park which change place at night, or for several days, not many, are not there, or there is only one, the laziest, or that they were assembled together one day, and the next day, first thing in the morning, they return to their original places, or some of them, the oldest, take a day off on Tuesday. This confirms their lightness and their wish for absence and impermanence, not their animated or magical nature, but verification of the illusive nature of our experience, like Thomas, the photographer, when he goes back to the park to make sure that the dead body he thought he had seen in the enlarged photographs is still there. But the dead body is no longer there, as he expected. Dead bodies never stay where you leave them (…)


An extract from BLOW UP (the itinerary), 2010 by Bernardí Roig.