Drowning in Blue
“Only that which is gone is what belongs to us”
Jorge Luis Borges
An image disrupts the hierarchy of my memories—it is a scent, a tactile fragment, a nocturnal dust that boosts the spiral of innocent and relatable emotions. At the same time, it remains a cold and distant reminiscence of our childhood. A cyanotic reminiscence. The image of a coloured pencil, in Prussian blue, which is so much more than just a colour to me. It is fog and mystery. It is an emotion alluding to an intangible and temporal state. A lapse of time. A childhood bedroom painted with darkness and desire, hopes and fears. All of these I found again, three decades later, in another blue. In a blue made by Irene Cruz.
I perfectly recall when I first met her. How my eyes captured that moment —the silence, the serenity. It pierced the matrix of the dream that brought me back to the spoiled authenticity of life. From the comforting embrace of a couple to the image of a body dissolving in the leaves of a forest, the rustic environment is candidly shaped at the mercy of uncertainty, disappearance and nothingness.
Irene Cruz’s photography epitomizes the idea of the environment as a survivor of an encounter with a human being.
A human being that ceased to inhabit the earth in the effort to use and abuse it. But the nature of which she speaks in her pictures is warm, generous and welcoming. It is a nature that is forgiving, like that of a mother who forgives the worst faults of her offspring. Or the look of someone who is slowly, but mercilessly, dying while smiling. Because in its essence, anger never lasts in the face of the will to overcome.
In her new series Drowning in Blue, Irene reflects on the interference of mundane materials, such as plastic, and their resulting connection to the environment: the power and tyranny suppressing, invading and crushing the love and respect we owe our planet. This, in reality, translates directly to the love we have for ourselves.
Now, however, we are facing a scenario we can no longer ignore—Mother Earth cries our tears, while a fluid hopelessness envelopes the bodies of the protagonists in Irene’s photographs. They navigate through an ecosystem—distorted, but oddly recognizable—in another dimension, with which we are forced to coexist.
It stands out from oblivion and dives into our conscience, until we corner ourselves in the shame we ought to be feeling, but are avoiding. It is as if we were on the edge of a future that allegedly belongs to others—those who will come later—but time, racing forever forwards, also brings it closer to our own existence.
With this series, Irene invites us to meditate on our responsibilities as individuals, citizens, or simply as guests of a world that we would like to think is changing with us. Even though we are the ones forcing this change.
The artist sends out a warning cry which is shrouded in the indifference and selfishness—the loss of geographical references. The subjects are thus left astray in the waters that could either drown or rock them to sleep. They are at the mercy of the tides that sway the threshold of fear of what lies ahead. They are submerged in a conflict that could well be the reflection of a nightmare, in a reality so authentic and relatable, even the most courageous of purposes wouldn’t overcome the unavoidable tragedy.
Do we have to let ourselves drift with the flow, heading towards a dead-end we ourselves created? Or is there some way we can wake up from the numb comfort zones of our modern, developed society?
Irene does not give us an answer. She does, however, make a clear, visual statement. Her statement advocates for the beauty of the bodies that struggle, defend, share, or succumb—descending further into the paralyzing depth of the endless blue. The artist invites us to enter her world. Because her world is ours. And it is the only one that (as of today) we have left.