Lieber Geist / Dear Ghost
They say it is impossible to love without nostalgia – without the addiction to wish, to see*1 that no one can actually yearn for what they already have. It is true that love unites us with each other, but it is even truer that it can only last as long as we don’t reach its top. After that, love becomes the image of absence, the presence of a ghost that accompanies us.
They say ghosts exist, and they remain here because they still have open wounds – and that is why those lost souls cannot rest. Spirits inhabit the liminal world, between life and death, between what exists and what does not, between dread and the tranquillity of routine, between existence and nothing.
The idea of “soul” or “ghost” as ectoplasmic echoes of the living has always existed in all cultures, religions and mythologies. I am particularly interested in a theory from Africa – which is quite unknown – that differentiates the sasha from the zamani. For them, there are three kinds of people: the living, the dead (zamani) and the gone (sasha). The sasha have lost their biological life, but they still exist in some way, inside someone who used to live together with that person. That means that a soul is not completely dead if it has been in contact with someone who still lives and remembers them, as that sasha’s energy still exists inside that person. However, no one has the experience of having lived together with a zamani. And these are not phases of death. They are the two ontological phases (or “dimensions”) of history in the Swahili culture.
The reason for this work is to learn to live together with the grief of feeling abandoned. I come to these woods to stop the memories of the lost. In this sense, photography does not link me to the world, but isolates me – it reveals my pain, my desolation, and the melancholy where the most beautiful desire to experience the happiness of the past is born again. The memory of a ghost is intangible, as neither the blue mist nor the voices of winter are lasting. Therefore, now I only have nostalgia as a chance to see what I lost again.
I love that fugacity as much as I love my blue hour, its dissipation of the day into the night, its dissipation of memories in time – but it never becomes an absolute vacuum, as when it is about to disappear, it shows up again, but in an unreachable form, as a continuous, never-ending stream.
Our bodies merge like the ghost living inside us when we love those who are gone, those who are not with us anymore. This idea of movement makes me think about what goes by – not following a planned path with a set goal, but just roaming, creating a feeling of distress and a strong attraction towards the one who goes away.
The woods are covered with the leaves that freed from the trees last autumn; the earth is covered with a saturation of absence that is now felt by the naked branches where they fell from, leaving them with the only hope of growing them again during the first days of spring.
The next-to-last photograph depicts a harmonious dance, like a perfect synthesis, and represents the gathering between presence and absence, between the tangible and the intangible, between what is near and what is far. Human beings feel a very deep desire for that unreachable food that makes them live eternally after their senses die. The temporality depicted in these photographs is determined by absence, which makes us experience love as a wait, as a desire that what we lost will come and guide us in this world.
What remains – and what we actually love – is the present absence, those things that we never had and, for that reason, have remained in ourselves. After all, love is, and has always been, ein lieber Geist. *2
Irene Cruz (April 2016)
*1 From German Sehnsucht, derived into Sehensucht, meaning
“nostalgia” (literally, the addiction to wish, to see).
*2 A beloved ghost.
When the blue dusk floods everything with nostalgia, in that moment when everything is waiting to start over, I am already thinking about my world’s drift. The past hurts, it’s a door with a wound made of light that cannot heal, the lament of a ghost that never leaves.
I must move stealthily if I do not want to awaken your omnipresent absent presence, which is impossible to grasp. But life persists in moving on, even though everything has suddenly stopped for me. This world is ruthless: it flows fast, and it forces me to keep breathing, even if I have no breathe – and it forces my heart to keep beating, even if I miss what used to be my hearth.
“This collection uses moving naked human figures in natural environments to explore the world of duplets, of sinister things and specters. The universality and the conflict in this topic –the (un)tangibility of spiritual life– makes her pictures reveal themselves as photographs of souls invoking metaphysical matters.
Her pictures explore the intermediate spaces between movement and lethargy, between sleep and wakefulness, keeping certain elements that provide the essential structure of her artistic career: nature, faceless figures, movement and some mysterious poetry that paints all her works with her characteristic blue tones.
Perfect framing, harmonious compositions and a careful use of light, always portraying her blue hour, a moment between day and night that gives all her magical art that bluish tone.”
“There is a dormant state of contained silence in these pictures that reveals the desolation of some invisible hands. These are the same fingers that try to grope for the unreachable memory of a happy moment from their own world. And that happiness is precisely what slips in all her photos, like broken rays that make up the lighting of every scene, like two focuses that emit light from very far away.”
Dear ghost, I want to walk in silence. Some ideas about Irene Cruz.
I think that there are two words in German and in Japanese that define well how a certain mood is perceived.
The first one is Waldeinsamkeit, which describes the feeling of being alone in the woods; the second one is shinrin yoku, and it defines the action of penetrating into nature’s luxuriance, where everything is quiet and relaxing.
Both terms describe the woods as apparently mild and reconciling from a spiritual point of view. However, if we look at it from a cinematographic perspective, there is the film The Village by Michael N. Shyamalan, in which a pseudo-platonic thesis teaches about the dimension of a conflict based upon a supernatural lie that uses the classical excuse of the common good, creating a foundational myth to justify the division between what is real and what is not, and transferring the intellectual perception of absolute good and the limits of the intelligible world as tools of control.
Plato defines it well in his book The Republic: “It belongs then to the governors of the city, if to any others, to make a lie, with reference either to enemies or citizens, for the good of the city.” What is interesting is that he proposed a contradictory argument, as he contrasted two possibilities about the supremacy of a human: one from the cathartic purification of the evil (what is often called “Nirvana”), and the other from the static and mythological simulation of something beyond the known world, watching over us.
In the book Antropología del budismo (“Anthropology of Buddhism”) by Juan María Arnau Navarro, some ways are proposed to manumit the spirit, as well as to run away from the paradigms that turn us into a part of flock, whether we like it or not. Our desire offers a universe that grants access to the utopia and the imagination, the reinterpretation of the environment, the prevalence against the swamps of what is licit, esoteric and hermetic.
I am not going to talk about the fact that desire is part of the dreadful Decalogue of modern cosmopolitan individuals, nor about the fact that stalking the woods can turn us into stalkers, as Andrei Tarkowski called them.
This paradigm is more emotional, less figurative, hygienic and fantastic, where the unifying thread, the flâneur (a term that I have been using during the whole week for this and that), and the visual metaphor of the loneliness or indolence are elements that have a changing, almost iconic perspective, due to the situation where the magic of representation is trapped.
When we talk about representing loneliness, there is an artist with a shutter retina, a photographer able to get immersed in chlorophyll and move mirrors, licensing a gloomy light, narrow in its focal geodesy, so the enfant terrible (as they say, much to my regret) appears and the miracle of a picture full of concepts and stories happens, full of getaways. As Plato said: “it’s better to step aside than to run away.”
I am talking about Irene Cruz and her bordering blue hour: a boundary of nuances that consider the best way for the body to become the format.
This is how photographer Leila Amat imagines it: “She transforms into lost souls in her lonely search for questions and answers that get mixed up and crowd around the leaves in some timeless forest. Everything in this series is fallen, everything is a jump into the abyss from reality.”
María Marco continues: “Her pictures explore the intermediate spaces between movement and lethargy, between sleep and wakefulness, keeping certain elements that provide the essential structure of her artistic career: nature, faceless figures, movement and mysterious poetry. Her photos are timeless and aesthetically splendid, created with perfect framing, harmonious compositions and a very careful use of that light which is always present in her blue hour, that moment between the day and the night that paints blue all her photographs.”
I find this notion of the “blue hour” very interesting. This concept comes from the French expression l’heure bleue (used by the Belgian dramatist and choreographer Jan Fabre) and refers to the moment of the dusk, both in the morning and in the evening, when there is neither sunlight nor absolute darkness. This moment of light opens the spectrum towards a modulation close to the colour of the sea, of cobalt, avoiding filters and later editions. It is nature itself that offers this.
Irene Cruz’s representations are naked bodies that meet a metaphysical revelation, that travel without thinking, without maps, and without feeling cold. It is an encounter with the paranormal logic of balance, with voiceless spectres. It is a mild, motionless dance, with the clarividence of the music that cannot be heard, for if there is a chromatic hour, there is an hour for silence as well, as Pierre Boulez would say.
Marcos Fernández (Blouinart info)