Praise of the Shadow

… and in the pale light of the shadow we put together a house.

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I usually prefer the early hours for taking pictures, and avoid the harsh daylight.

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But light allows to objectify darkness, in form of a shadow.

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Sometimes it’s not so much the question what creates the shadow on the wall, but what lies behind the wall.

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The interior (if there is one) should allow cause and effect to coexist.

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Light and shadow are folded together.

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But the gate is always open, which means that ultimately we have to leave again.

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From North by Hill, From South by Lake, From West by Paths, From East by River

So the title of a little book by László Krasznahorkai, better known for Sátántangó, and responsible for the stories behind a few of Béla Tarr’s films.

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Main protagonist is the grandson of Prince Genji, who is visiting a monastery near Kyoto.

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In 49 short chapters, we get a tour, both of the monastery, and of what the grandson perceives. Everything is treacherous.

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It is as if the visitor and the place are resisting their fictionality: Their possibility is enough to contemplate how place and visitor react to each other.

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Physical reality becomes secondary, what counts is the permanence of the imagination.

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New Eden (New Harmony IV)

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Nested among a garden of fruit trees next to the Roofless Church in New Harmony is another sculpture by Stephen de Staebler, the Angel of Annunciation, which is easy to overlook, despite its tallness.

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A small plaque on the church wall nearby quotes a poem by Staedler that states that arms are for doing, while wings are for being.DSC 1886

This angel is deeply conflicted. The arm sticks out of his head like the wings. The head itself, whose face is just recognizable as such from the side, is split in half when viewed from the front.

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One of the two feet is cemented in, the other free to walk. Where does this leave us?

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There is another sculpture in this garden, without plaque or any indication of authorship: A piece of wood, hanging from a tree.

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It’s not a sculpture. It’s what is left over from binding the branches of an aging tree together to keep it from breaking and falling apart. An attempt can never completely be a failure. Doing and being can still be one.