UPSIDE DOWN: A MEDITERRANEAN ODYSSEY
- Interviews with characters in daydreams and night dreams. A homage to the fantasies of James Hillman and the coincidental encounters of John Cage.
The project: an exposition with an extract from my artist-books and single framed works of 40x50cm and 30x40cm with pass-partout. The work is still in progress. So far it consists of about 30 works.
“Here I am working toward a psychology of soul that is based in a psychology of image. Here I am suggesting both a poetic basis of mind and a psychology that starts neither in the physiology of the brain, the structure of language, the organization of society, nor the analysis of behavior, but in the processes of imagination.” James Hillman
The idea: Animals are at the same time absent and present. My artwork is a visual association of the relationship between men and beast in contemporary society.
Real creatures in flesh and blood are quickly disappearing from our material everyday life. On the other hand, I can observe a real abundance in TV, fiction, web, illustrated books, pet industry, safaris and leisure programs.
At the beginning of the century, the “Bestiary” – an animal compendium – was, after the Bible, the most read book. Nature and imagination were still connected.
I am interested in the appearance of animals in dreams, myths and folkloristic teaching stories. Many times they show up in our dreams in a manner that makes us smile, makes us curious or frightful. Dreams are ancient texts made of images.
James Hillman says, “Don’t reduce the animal from your dream or fantasy to a symbol or a metaphor about yourself as a person. Watch closely, try to understand their needs, feelings, sufferings and strength and you will learn bit by bit something new about your soul.”
The natural qualities of collage are not only my means to approach life, but the ideal choice for my project. Its fragmentary quality is close to the language of reverie, dream talk and psychological insight.
Interweaving photography, painting, dream, symbol, the psychological ideas of Carl Gustav Jung and James Hillman, the world of myth and historical folktales, I ask questions and find unspoken answers.
The single works are collected in album folders. It is a work in progress. I am working backwards in time, using my immense print and negative archive, dream diaries, travel notes and literature sources. I believe strongly in meaningful coincidence, so I trust that I open the right archive box in the right moment.
Upside Down: A Mediterranean Odyssey is born naturally out of former projects like From South to North, Traces and Fragments, Look Both Ways, Deja Vue, Under My Skin and others.
The title: The project follows my studies of Hillman’s thought and his appreciation of the “Mediterranean fantasy,” an interior quality that I share as well and that is the main reason that, 30 years ago, I chose to live in Italy. I also responded to his lifelong study of dreams and his belief in imagination as a key to our Underworld and as a means to a better life, which informs my work with therapeutic collage as a precious tool to gain a deeper self-understanding. We share, too, the belief that after a lot of traveling we sooner or later end up in the place where we feel at home. For me it’s a small town on the Tuscan coast in Italy, with daily walks on the beaches and snorkeling. After a life of creating sea- and animal-related artwork, now I finally connect with the so-called “real” sea world.
Technical Note: The photographs are vintage prints that I’ve made over the last 40 years, as well as photochemical paintings and tonings, which are created in the darkroom. The photogram, with and without negative (thanks to Jerry Uelsman) is still today part of my creative repertoire. This is the realm for the power of alchemy. Light enlightens, silver paints, developer makes visible, shadows are brightened, negative becomes positive and fragile signs on the verge of disappearing are fixed in time.
Most of the images with animals are taken in museums of natural history and aquariums all over the world, and some are fished out of the world wide web. The project is still going on, and the artist books will grow. For exhibitions, single collages are printed digitally and framed with pass-partout. The frame sizes are 30x40cm and 40x50cm.
My guests: the elephant, the zebra, the penguin, the seahorse, the fish, the dog, the wolf, the bear, the koala, the frog, the leopard, the panda, the chicken, the fox.