The season has begun.
The red thread I’m following these days is reality. Il paese è reale (the country is real), after many and tenacious preparations has become, in fact, real, with the collective concert last Friday night in the square of Stazione Centrale in Milan – a place very real (or unreal) in itself for us Milanese, one of the symbols of the neglect and the death of public spaces in our city, the ideal place to demonstrate something about our deep desire for culture and sharing; in that square I saw for the first time rock fans mingling with junkies, passers by, immigrants, tourists. And reality revealed itself as the practical face of dreams. Being real, being true, doesn’t mean we just make do with what’s already there. We can also create something that wasn’t there and make it just as real. The day after that, in Riva del Garda, Paolo Benvegnù played live in Patchanka and moved us to tears. He’s more focused than ever and he’s writing wonderful songs, and he too feels that the “real country” needs us to make a difference. And, last but not least, in Riva del Garda a gift from the blogosphere materialized for me: Simo Capecchi was our guest on air, therefore, after her adventurous journey from Naples to meet us, coming up the lake by boat (and drawing all the way, of course!), I finally met her in person. It was a great day, we had loads of fun, and I had the privilege to leaf through some of her wonderful watercoloured sketchbooks and to be shown her drawing kit (the sketchbook above is her japanese notebook seamlessly depicting one whole day around Crescentone in Bologna – thank you Simo!) In our conversations one theme kept popping up: the mingling of real and virtual; the physical sketchbook, handmade, one of a kind, that you can nonetheless flip through and share online getting as far as to creating communities, or even to meet others in person and maybe draw with them; the bodily nature of drawing as opposed to the incorporeal nature of the mean by which we share it; and last, the extreme subjectivity of the sketchbook artist that still retains an impression of “reality” much stronger than any reportage.
I read today that scientists believe our hearts produce energy in waves around them for some metres, in a quantity 5000 times bigger than the energy produced by our brains. What is funny is that most of the time we sort of put up with what our hearts feel instead of directing it. Art probably help us shape up this powerful chaos into a form we can share. What I keep on learning from M. is sharp and crisp, pure energy, the discipline to rein in inspiration, the crazy taste for play, the use of all your body to produce what heart and mind design – it feels so good.
That’s exactly how New York feels to me now: old, patched, rough, luscious, full, mirrored, golden, industrial, homey, bookish. I had the most amazing time with friends old and new – E, J, F, who made feel at home and helped me put my pieces back together, M. & the band whom I spent a great sunny day with in Williamsburg, S, who I got to see playing after too long a while (thank you for “Medicine Show”!), friends from home who texted love and support while I was away and took good care of the noble Beast. I went roaming in bookstores full of cats, watching squirrels waking up from hibernation in Central Park, drinking and playing pool in bars, sightseeing for dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History, eyeing low clouds around the top of skyscrapers, hearing great political talk, eating home-made apple tart in cafes (here above the most beautiful Blackbird in Williamsburg), all-around lunching, listening to E Street Radio as the WOAD tour begins. It was lazy and loving, and it seems that something so scary and irreparable has happened to me that I won’t ever be scared again. And shooting New York is like stroking a purring cat’s belly, she’s had so much love from photographers and filmakers that she loves you back every time you look at her. Finally, S has directed me to the most juicy blog of things handmade, it’s sure going to be a sweet suprise for those who already had a soft spot for Dr Reid from “Criminal Minds”.
I have just delivered my small contribution to a nice project and now is time to go back to another project, which is all mine and I had layed down to chill out for a while. My friend A is getting married and she’s going to keep a funny diary about her work in progress which is very promising. Here above you can see one of the first pics I took with the new camera (very daily scene over at my house). I am very much in awe of the digital prodigy itself, with all its different options, but now I am trying to understand how I can sabotage its diabolical perfection. I know I will never be able to get the shadowy oldish crazyness of SX-70 back, but I need to find a way to break this scheme which was meant to prevent us from failing. Most of the time this is exactly the matter. How do we give warmth, personality, rough edges, mistakes – life, that is – to the stuff that we obtain from machines? Last night I attended a short acoustic set by one of the bands that are most dear to me, Afterhours, and they’re still brimming with exactly that spirit: pure energy, even when it’s rough, even in difficult environments, because if we can focus on what we’re doing, what we enjoy is the process, not the product. It’s the same that I have learnt from Keri Smith, rare jewel. I was so lucky to have an interview with her a few days ago, and I hope her crystal clear spirit will bring luck to the blog. F too, thinking about photography, is pondering over this: which are pictures full of life – indetermined, fluctuating, real – over those that are dragging, fixed, perfectly concocted. In a certain way, life is not whole, is not still, is not framed, is not in focus.