So onto Alexandria. This is one of the long-term projects that I am working on and I’ve had a few pieces on my website for the past few months without much explaination. If you’ve been reading the blog it may make a bit more sense, but for the most part it is quite a large visual leap in my work. Thematically it is an outgrowth of all of the Proofs and extended portrait series’ since 2005 (Beloved Object…, The difference between…, etc.), in the exploration of the artist as a subject and his attempt to situate the relationships around him through his practice.
Where Barthes in his “Lover’s Discourse” seems to almost indulge his woes, and laments those facts in enumerable fragments, Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet presents a series of interconnected narratives as the main character, an artist, and his constellation of friends attempt and achieve resolution against the backdrop a constantly shifting place and time. In the end Durrell is writing to demonstrate the mutability of absolute truth, and to apply the point-perspective of relativity to any attempt at absolutely defining that idea. What interests me about this approach is that what I am left with in this case is a set of experiences, framed, and illustrated.
Each of my projects has been prompted by a personal narrative and a related literary work, but the idea of making that narrative literal (nothing makes my experience any more arresting or even as interesting as someone else’s) is something that I am hesitant to do. But the idea of the experience itself, of exploring an emotional state of disillusion…
Alexandria is first composed of large prints of the pages of the four books of the Alexandria Quartet, “Justine,” “Balthazar,” “Mountolive,” and “Clea,” in the 1961 Penguin Edition. Each page refers to an emotional state or revelations in the shifting relationships between the characters but without including any plot development. The text becomes an echo chamber, a meditative rosary for contemplation.
The page images are juxtaposed with abstracted figurative images titled “Wounds”, personal snapshots “Moeurs”, “Portraits that refused to be taken” of subjects turned away from the artist, and related works that are collectively present a state of constant searching. There is a calm in the search, though, and the only goal is understanding.
See some of the work-in-progress here.