In one word…en un mot

Eternal Addiction. A failed dialogue between heaven and hell


A Catastrophic Encounter-w

“Salome full of untimely grace, Lilith of the dark valley of our forgotten fears, I salute thee, yet thou shalt not eat of me.” Arcan Shahem

It had been someone so close, yet so invisible, like a shadow in the darker corners of a room where steps were heard, shuffling to and fro, from wall to wall. Such was she who haunted the mind of the dissolute ascetic hiding inside the temptress of his undisclosed youth. Oscar Wilde had perhaps understood her as the sickness of man, and above all, as a Pandora wrought in the irons of a church built on the ruins of the heart. She, a twisted bone of contention, reviled and revived to be sentenced again and again, a heretic and a tyrant sealed in the body of a Sybil, contorted by the desire of the untouchable, tortured by the vanity of a child risen to the alter, a crown of thorns, none even slightly scratching her wrinkless brow, for ever smooth, intolerant to age. Her hands bore no signs of experience, not even the imprint of an identity, make belief effigy of sin boiling in the frigid cerebellum of perverted priests, yet so real to her inaccessible lover. New to the world each morning, like dew drops anointing the spider’s web, she absorbed light, not a pearl but a lagoon trapped between the impregnable shoulders of mountains.

How could one instant suffice, the glint of a gaze, as innocent as it was criminal, reaching the defunct factories of guilt with a galvanising impulse? How the wheels began to grind the worn meat of a pacified fool, neither man nor beast, a forlorn insomniac moaning in the hot sands of his shameful dreams, a Jordan berried between unseen frontiers as he tore the glows of the night, sweating a boil shaped like she, this flower of grace and disgrace, red opalescent, humid and savage, her tongue glistening in the penumbra of a mouth his lips could taste even as he turned inside his cloak soaked with muck, he the scourge renting against heaven day and night. In this dismal kingdom of his, she increased in power, unscathed by the seraphs’ terror gales, their trumpets spewing gravel and spite, the voice of god straight from the bowls. A god, but so unconvincing to her, whose father, a Tetrarch, lay himself and his treasures below her heels. Neither time nor space recognised this form, her sovereignty not residing within her, but in the weakness of those who wanted her more than the salt of life. Could it be…. did she pursue the reflection of a soul in the lakes encased between limbo and a faint idea of paradise? What paradise if not the loveless embrace of her absolute abandonment? This was Salome, the limpid, fulgurated memory of an incarnation, her essence inaccessible to the living, insufferable to the dead. No soul could leave this body, for they had once been welded into one. Was it a body or armour wrapped around an intolerable craving? She was famished, suffused by the dolour of starvation, while abundance enveloped her. She suffered. Yet no one had ever seen a tear gather and trickle down her cheek that looked like pale golden enamel when she rose from her milky waters, surrounded by the ebony palms of her maids lifting the translucent robe to receive her.

Once he wandered far from his cave, incapable of peace. In the thickness of the bushes, he slid like a snake. It was then he caught her sweeping her balcony. She had believed herself entirely alone and had delighted in this mundane shore, not calling for her servants as all persons of her station did. Clad in such fine silks was she that the mild sun of early morning melted all obstruction to the beauty of her shape. As if naked, bathed in this light like a Cherry blossom, her petals turning to vapour around her, she moved with the breeze, so light, so fluid. She leaned, she observed, searching like a falcon for the impurities tarnishing the pink marble her feet hardly touched. She proceeded, having no tools, with her hands, the sensitive extensions of a being that would not be fathomed, but hastily despised by the pious, the bigot and the sycophants and the maids that knew her corporeal being better than any lover. He pondered against his will. Had she had any lovers? What if this living image of decadence was still an innocent? What if she who danced like a whore before the elders and their hosts was as virginal as the mother, so the story goes, of the messiah? She kneeled and continued wiping the floor, seemingly lost in reverie. What would a daydream be like in this head where furies incessantly demanded sacrifice? Here standing before him, so far above him… and each the victim and the judge of the other; the inescapable justice of a nature so incomprehensible to him, so unknown to her.

Why lust after such a man, a man denying all frailty, all satisfaction, all reasonable sense of loss. Was it for a beauty she could never attain, under this apparel of neglect, dirt, dereliction, abstention, and vulnerability? This object of desire, so oblivious apparently to her allure…rendering her thus into an object of contempt, the instrument of a revenge on men, but perhaps and foremost on a world in which all purity must be soiled or imprisoned. And was not she pure, so pure as he whose freedom she envied immeasurably? And of him what was known? What could such a being fear from a faithless girl? What could he dissimulate in a body that would have passed for a rock had it not crawled among scorpions and snakes? Why this obstinacy in the rejection of such an open gift as the unadulterated and ‘unadulterous’ avowal of a king’s daughter? Did not the desire for super-natural ecstasy dwarf the simple concupiscence of a disturbed adolescent? How could possessing a mortal body for the time it takes a magpie to pick a glittery jewel from an open trunk, be of any interest to a man enthralled by unearthly wonders? He travelled through cities of diamonds as he curled up like a foetus in a hollow, shivering, unable still to forget the cold blades of the desert after sunset. How he swore against that unbearable cold, thinking himself alone. Then she would appear to him, as physical as he was then, his only escape, not god but a whore as holly as the so called Christ.

His head shone, still, as it hanged from the bloodied hand of his executioner. But Gustave Moreau had wished him to illuminate our dark constellation, as Salome seemed to keep it suspended like a magic lantern, with her unflinching eye. For the Baptist had become the opener of the way, and had led the lamb to the slaughter. Not far from the scene, Puvis de Chavannes had built him as a force of nature made from the fibres of Apollo, brought to his knees, yet somehow standing impassively, almost exhorting Thanatos, tree of knowledge about to fall to the puerile whims of an ancient Lolita. It was that moment when heaven and earth were ripped apart, in the pupil of a mother’s eye, where pure hatred, not love, made the world go round. A hatred some say of such purity, it could be taken for love…yes so dangerously close to love, all the more dangerous for being almost what it could only oppose and continuously fail to annihilate. Who was the Baptist, an ode to the adulation of reason at the mercy of pride, an inversion of humility, an obscene lie facing his nemesis in the pitiful hope of obsequious redemption. To the morbid rests of a breathless form he preferred the delectable manna of the spirit. One temptation displaced another. Only his thoughts could betray him for this resolve was tainted by doubt, more than doubt, a cascade of indomitable phantasms, mirroring those of his anima. Thus they faced each other, unwilling to relinquish, only willing to vanquish. They did as would later, in many guises, Martha and George in who is afraid of Virginia Woolf, Brick and Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, or inversely Stanley and Blanche in a Streetcar Named Desire, and where did it begin…Ophelia blighted by Hamlet, Ariadne abandoned by Theseus, Medea betrayed by Jason, Eurydice lost to Hades by the distraction of Orpheus, Adam, Eve, Lilith, and some deluded piping tom salivating on a cloud… because the truth be told, theirs was a marriage made in heaven to be consummated in hell, not because of god’s side kick condemnation but because of a tragic flaw in the psyche of each desperate player. Where romantic love was praised through poetry, poetry only compensated us for the absence of love. To be the guarantor of romantic feelings, one had to be in full possession of a believable narrative, believable enough … The dialogue had really been an interminable series of monologues. Nevertheless, far from a duet, this was an opera. Even Strauss ensured the renaissance of this truth in one single act. Salome and Jochanaan perish in some ironic mortal embrace where the base passions are revealed and punished unequivocally in a parody of righteousness.

But here, at a time undeclared, they faced each other, one so ridiculously powerless, yet the evidence of an empire impossible to conquer, the other, so powerful, yet the evidence of an empire showing all the signs of decay prior to an ineluctable end. Yet both failed themselves and one another equally. What would the man have wished had he been a Herodias, or a Herod, and more intriguingly, had he been a Salome? Of all places, he woke on the tip of an iceberg melting slowly subjected to Aphrodite’s hair dryer blocked on maximum heat. A metropolis many had called a white flame among golden cinders, and where the first caravels had departed for the shores of overflowing wealth. What that place had been but a palace, a city of luxuries overlooking the Atlantic, the Venice of Portugal. This was where he had encountered his deepest fear, the stillness of complete self-absorption, not arrogance, the certainty of a slow amalgamated victory. She Salome shivered in the under belly of the city, shivered with uncontrollable excitement, prone to bursts of anger, an infant underfed and trained to kill, a predator in the guise of a prey. An entire city had collapsed under her spell. But what was the reality of this terror, this underlying truth that could not be spelt out by the linguists of this world?

She had appeared as a giant puppet mistress of the masked puppeteer to the gang of masonic grave diggers, the mask of the red death entering unnoticed, slipping his ‘equestrial’ hooves in the fine velvet slippers of haggard kings and austere queens, the dry rivers of the medina, the final rays pouring through the rubies and sapphires of Ogival windows. As she lifted her arms in awe of a unique idol, a guard echoed her with a long silver sword, above the frail weathered neck of a mumbling saint. Who could have cared for his admonitions, in the light of his uncouth verity? Was not his sickness also hers? The table was laid for the feast, but Herodias played her uncanny part, and having introduced a sinister idea in the malleable mind of the woman-child, a man would die abruptly, fulfilling the first chapter of a violent prophecy. A mother envious of her own daughter, eager to punish the insolent progeny by framing her in the infamous role of a depraved and diabolical socialite, had gained posterity in quite an ambiguous way. Yet hers was no match to the immortality of her monstrous child. What did Salome see in the mirror? The face of a mother while she cumbered her soft hair, while her eyes broke through the skin, cutting deep grooves into her body, laying spider’s eggs into her psyche, slowly burying her vulgar emotions into the young flesh of her own blood, so hateful was she of a being that would soon usurp her position, steal the affections of the king, and humiliate she, who had borne the fiend.

Far from being over, her reign, that of the daughter would begin again in the recess of the collective consciousness. The new moon rose. In her invisibility, she contained the inflating tides of the seas below the hardest strata of our globe. As he cried in his pitiful hovel, she glided, having mounted a mare as black as coal. She wondered, what could this sound be, where did it come from? She waited immobile as a statue, in the starry darkness. She absorbed the plaintive song of a creature and pondered on the most efficient way of capturing such a mysterious prey. How could he have imagined his groans and uncontrollable convulsions would be the source not of piety but utter fascination? How could he have conceived of such an absurdity, his back pitted into the rock she was moulding herself into, as if to be penetrated by every wave of pain rising and falling inside his mangled skeletal being?

She would hold a platter not long from now, his head severed, heavy lids closing his piecing eyes, this insolence she had admired and despised. Caravaggio showed her looking away from her trophy as if in disgust. Now in full possession of her prize, yet how meaningless, all of the promises vanished in the act of martyrdom imposed by the wretched. His murderer only just dropping the head like a long awaited parcel. Behind Salome, another hand rose like a ghost, yet more physical for its weight in ill thoughts, a sordid apparition, like a Siamese twin, the instigator of a deadly plot, avid for an innocence blatantly lost. The spectre of a historian calling himself Flavius Josephus, an impostor no doubt, but still…spoke of her too, and how once the Shulamite, turned a soiled veil of Isis, had embraced the head of a hermit, as to kiss the lips then blue with the frost of inertia. Like the mad Prince of Denmark, she stared in the blank eyes of a skull still clad in the leather of life just passed. King Solomon had implored her in the verses of Song of Songs, “Return, return, o Shulamite”…”My soul troubled me for the chariots of Aminadab”. Now, the wheels broken, still revolved at the bottom of a well, lacerating the limbs of wingless angels fallen hither. So obsessed was she, the head was swathed like a new born and enshrined into the royal bed. They say she bore no child, barren only by the failure of her husband who, like Philip of Macedonia before him, afraid of the bestiality of his consort, would plunder further afield. His own appetites were satiated in the languorous furnace of nubile slaves, so horror stricken was he at the thought of sharing his couch with a dead head nestled by the heaving breasts of his bride. Worse still, Herodias had taken the habit of inserting hairpins in the tongue of the abject thing. It grew larger and greener each day, like the offshoot of a succulent. She Herodias did so for fear of a stray burst of condemnation by the man even Herod had named a prophet. Salome’s children therefore did not descend from her bloodline. It may be that John sang like a caged bird as she slept by his side or as it is presumed, his head, as the head of Orpheus, had found itself lodged between the thighs of a Demeter. Salome had made herself chaste in the exercise of her passion for the wild man who haunted her dreams until she herself was victim of a sudden fatal accident.

These were rumours. Even when alive, Salome had become immortalised in the formaldehyde of a myth baring her name, her features and her voice. She danced by herself, imagining Dionysus visiting her private chamber. And how then could a mere mortal enrapture her? But this man, himself a legend in his time, rivalling her own, how could she, knowing of him, let him be adored by any other, let alone a divine figure jealous of its own image, of no value to her, so ingrown the visceral humours of nature in every part of her…the face of an angel, so Titian had painted her, the red cape of Magdalena covering her round shoulders, and the presence of a child she seems to have noticed as her head tilted towards him or her, to listen…But her eyes not once could leave the solemn expression of Jochanaan as his head lay in her arms resting from celestial torments. She hesitated then. She had been taught by the philosophers how the cranium being the seat of the mind, the body must necessarily be the root of all other properties of our being, the weakness of mankind, the source of sin, of the rages of carnal fixation. How saved she felt then, enamoured with an ideal, the vestiges of divinity falling into her lap. There was no mother above her here; she was the mother eternal and pure, her son, the hallowed apex of her only god. With this gift from the earth, yet the magical talisman by which her access to higher spheres was assured, no power could surpass hers. Yet this she would keep a secret, so she liked to believe.

In a dream she had seen a castle and wished to find her way to it. She had tried to get closer from every side but all were dead ends until a girl about her age, a nomad from an unknown land had emerged from a small tent by a high wall of thorny trees. She asked “do you want to go to the castle?” Astounded, and as astonished by such a strange emotion, Salome answered, forgetting about etiquette, duties, pageantry and all of the attributes of her class that would, at this point, have impeded her progress. There was a low mud brick hut. The girl pointed to its semi circular portal. It was a dark hole and although the princess was generally fearless, having nothing to fear, a needle pricked the back of her mind. She darted at the girl who watched on with utmost curiosity, so over-dressed was she for such an escapade in the backwaters of her kingdom. Salome noticed a shadow creeping from beyond the wall. The sun was setting much faster than usual. She sensed urgency and pressed on. Almost as she had entered than she had already reached the other side. In real time, this would have amounted to less than half a second, a physical impossibility. In addition, the castle she had peered at from a long way away had evaded her. This tested her logical mind for which no man would give her credit. Caligula too would later show a rare talent in this art.

A secret. We could tell from the snide smile on her delicate face, from those eyes that no longer needed to lie, and while Lucas Cranach painted her so, he however did not forget how, while she may have admired herself as the sole owner of a vanquished rebel, he, though separated from the mortal enclave, from the gut and bile of a living moribund, sang like Solomon to his impossible love. But we wondered suddenly, who was he looking at? …As if there had been a mirror between the dreadful couple and us. What could his gaze reach but hers? And who then was the Medusa? She no longer seemed so certain, and he, although expiring still, was not adrift but absolute in the certainty of his and her fate, for they were intertwined forever, a hierosgamos below the surface of a tomb. Nor was it Yahweh ’s retribution that led her to the frozen river of Jordan, a fluke phenomenon that was attributed to the aftermath of an unpredicted eclipse, despite Ptolemy’s attempt at hiding his findings relating to the motions of the Pleiades wherefrom had surged the dark messenger…burnt thereafter with the entire library.

She stepped over the mistiness of the ice sheet that broke almost instantly. The surface, chiselled into perfect triangular shapes, whirled around her, dragged into the depth. Her head hovered for a moment; no scream came out of her as her eyes looked estranged from the scene of horror, so oblivious was she, to her own body. For she was married to the Baptist in such a way that no matter could rupture her living form from the fantasy of her perfect counterpart. Like a fluorescent blade, one chunk swerved with immediate effect. Her head stilted, gasped at last and vanished, leaving but a few droplets of blood, so precise and clean had been the cut. It fell into the lower channels, revolving, a lost planet, until a wall, a very old wall covered in shells, oil deposits and algae, stopped her, right below the first gateway to the port of Lisbon. There, under the Atlantic tumult, she waited for the shadows to wreck havoc. Before that, her dreams would infiltrate the unspent thoughts of builders, monarchs, architects, and traders, the councils to proprietors, the clerks and their masters, the doctors and their book keepers, the high clerics and their sheep, enticing them to erect a magnificent city for the sole pleasure of razing it to the ground by succumbing to the laws of she that had been sold to man to do as he pleased by a deluded patriarch. Then what was natural law was seen as oceanic hysteria, nature’s folly, in whose terrible dominion could be seen a reflection of our pride and our envy.

Who would dare defame her, having heard of the effect of her subterranean invention and her allegiance to the lunar court? She hid from all men, from mothers and their children, from birds and worms, her beauty ravaged by centuries of bitterness, and the agony of her bodiless love. A poet had claimed a preceding incarnation of Salome had been wedged headless in the volcanic womb that once had burst open like a pestilent bulb below the Atlantean continent. Now, he said, the hermit’s skull protruded from her rotten belly, a stillborn she tried endlessly to expel. It did not budge. It had grafted itself into her, as incomplete as she was. “How ironic”, the poet had written, “the head of a saint in place of what the church had proclaimed to be the origin of the fall” These awful pangs of birth led only to more excruciating pain and thus it was that on a clear morning of 1755, Salome vanquished her fate and spewed out from her putrid concavity the tumorous object of her devotion. As she had sank like a tower once, so did the domes and the spires of an entire city and its inhabitants, decades of labour and knowledge annihilated, swallowed into her gaping throat as her head then unlocked from a lower strata, and John’s of the wilderness, rolled down deeper valleys, enflamed by the lava licking the crumbling borders of Lisbon, a world among worlds.

A woman she was not any more than he a saint. Both inventions set against one another, most of all, set against themselves. We saw two pillars in the distance. How pleasing it was to think they held the vault. Two eyes had watched us once, now hollow. Instead of tears, sand fell continuously, two lines, two pillars of sand, one silver, the other red, holding nothing save the passing of life.


Copyright © Pascal Ancel Bartholdi 2015

The Old Wall

…before the fall


The old wall is covered in spots and cracks. But from a distance of more than six meters, within the confines of a human architectural environment, it looks like the surface of a forlorn planet not unlike our lunar satellite, drifting inside a hypothetical cosmology. It extends to some dark receding horizons, curving upward as if the force of a massive object had pushed itself into the first layers of the orb, very softly, making dents and folds of irregular shapes reason alone will not suffice to decipher. Those horizons where some apparently well informed scholars predict vertiginous falls from kilometre high flanks, the vestiges of estranged fortresses, stranded like ship wrecks mid ocean.

A prophesying monk had seen a Galleon, its name changing as it rotated captured by the turmoils of war and unpredictable currents, Orient, fleet of the Nile battles, blowing up like a super nova, or Grace Dieu, burning after a lightening bolt hit one of its masts, an archetypal ship Turner, the painter, would continuously return to in his wondrous visions of light and perdition. This opium ridden monk had watched the vessel whirl until it oscillated on the tip of the world, suddenly diving into the void as black as the mouth of Tacca Chantrieri, thus seeming to corroborate the beatific falsehood of a tabletop Earth. He foresaw dust storms made of mirror particles suffocating the biospheres of nascent stars. Some would engender vast craters in the bark of galactic Cedars. As we hover now in our minuscule cockpit, stealing a glimpse of truth from a future already spent, fragment of an atom among solar years of data, gliding with occasional lapses of momentum, above those mangled decrepit remains of terrain, we detect the signs of a life once thriving on the borders of unbridgeable gulfs. Yet all that life now stares blankly from left over traces incrusted in this dried skin, imprints of useless things, as white as the salts of a dead sea that in a remote past also touched the edges of our lands. A giant has scraped this body of unidentifiable evidence. No extraneous objects can be found.

This place is no longer a place at all, the transitory figment of a lacking imagination suspended in the somnolent mind of a wasted god. Rings and ridges, lines in the thinning palm of a creature that hominids mistook for a white elephant, inciting them to shoot deadly projectiles at scurrying clouds…Lying open to the glowering firmament. This is all that is left of the primordial waters that had covered and impregnated Gaia and her sisters, Gaia especially, the scintillating Sapphire of the solar continent, her hills, her ravins, her peaks and her abysmal pits, her caves and plateaux, her canyons and estuaries…the waters evaporating in the acidic haze of chemical bliss, all that is left on this side of the globe, the tempestuous ball of blue fire skidding down the artery of a haemorrhaging invertebrate morphing the history of our failure, a globe flattened under the weight of a perfect body, flattened it lies now like a map covering the face of our puny galaxy. In a field that extends beyond all optical powers, inert, silent, starless winter awaiting dawn, without us.

Copyright © Pascal Ancel Bartholdi 2015

IRREVERENT SIDE SHOWS, 2 shows directed by Anna Frisch: Duck and Cover, Reservoir Ducks , Flare stage performance International Festival 2015, Manchester



Video Animation

Dark Tower Crepuscule2w


Poetic and philosophical Vision of a pedestrian based journey in time and space, in real, remembered and imaginary spaces of a nomad in London. The title refers to the ontological question of presence in a world now based on a kind of absenteeism, i.e., where the mind becomes divided from the personal, absorbed by virtual collectivism intrinsic to the mega-urban context, in this case London.

Algostasis1w Anticlockwise1w


Although there is no actual cinematic narrative, a progression does exist in the unravelling of the visuals . it is based on two main perspectives. One, the personal journey in time and space of the maker, concentrating the focus therefore mainly on areas of London encountered in his life and containing the remnant of abstracted memories directly linked to the idea of the Mnemonic City insofar as it is translating a deep emotion attached to these places.

Wormhhole Labri.S 2,w

Two, a perspective relating to archetypal complexes residing in those memories and containing universal mythology, the elements of which are played out throughout the animation by way of various alterations and transformations but also through specific symbols such as ‘the tower’, ‘the moon’, the shadow’, ‘the hand’,’the throne’, or the elements such as water and fire.

The vision presented is a flowing composition and an symbiotic composite that could have been extracted from a dream. Real and imaginary spaces are combined.Vacant Throne,w Vacant Throne3,w

Wormhole” points to the possibility of entering a parallel dimension while remaining lucid of what the maker considers his own’ land’.“Labri” is the root of labyrinth, a reference to the underlying esoteric structure of the city. “Peripatetic” refers to the act of wandering by foot, linked to the idea of the flâneur who, by exploring the context directly travels inwards, analysing and re-evaluating his own internal constructs. “Ballad” refers to the nature of loss and poetry constituting two foundational aspects of the piece. “London” is the name of the location in question, known to the maker since his childhood and as equally important to him as his native city. He is the “Nomad” , for despite having lived in this metropolis for over twenty years, no feeling of belonging has ever truly developed. Instead, the maker has gained a kind of philosophical detached discernment out of an impersonal environment he had once hoped long ago to make his home. Negative hand to Positive5,w Dark Tower Divided,w

The work is divided into interlocking scenes suggesting a psychological progression, perhaps equivalent to the passing images in the mind of a sleep walker as they migrate from one room to another inside a large mansion. I would describe it as a vision rather than a story, the kind we see conjured up in Dante’ s Divine Comedy or Goethe’s Faust or even, ‘Heaven forbid’, pun almost intended, The Apocalypse by John the evangelist.

One could dare affirm there is a beauty in the destruction of beauty since the emotions stirred

Towers of the Entropic Distortion2 Rip11w Towers of the Entropic Distortion Rip11w Towers of Entropic Distorsion1w

are summoned from the expanse ‘de profundis’, of the psyche. One could also dare affirm the increasing level of hideousness of London is so extreme it has become ‘awesome’. a monstrous edifice challenging the borders of paradise with ever higher peaks, each more violent than the one preceding it, but more so, it is down below at street level, in the shadow of these blank feats of engineering that real ugliness lingers, banal and monotonous, enveloping the crowd within a suffocating smog of relentless repetition. This cine-animation brings these facets of the city into view while retaining a poetic filter, not to embellish but to do justice to the complexity and depth of the situation in which humanity finds itself at this juncture of post history.


Produced for the new Mnemonic City in London 2015

Towers of Entropic Distortion, Lunar Phase3wIn collaboration with

Swan Wharf, Fish labs in Hackney Wick

and The Barbican

2Towers of Entropic Distorsion3w



Dark Tower Crepuscule2w


Poetic and philosophical vision in real, remembered and imaginary spaces of a nomad  in London through an indeterminate length of time . The title refers to the ontological question of presence in a world now based on a kind of absenteeism, i.e., where the mind  becomes divided from the personal, absorbed by virtual collectivism intrinsic to  the mega-urban context, in this case London.

Algostasis1w Anticlockwise1w Vacant Throne3,w Vacant Throne,w


Although there is no obvious cinematic narrative, a progression exists in the unravelling of the visuals emphasised by the music score and superimposed contextual sounds. it is based on two main perspectives. One, the personal journey in time and space of the maker, concentrating the focus therefore mainly on areas of London encountered in his life and containing the remnants of abstracted memories directly linked to the idea of the Mnemonic City insofar as it is translating signs into a deep emotion attached to each of these places.

Negative hand to Positive5,w

Two, a perspective relating to archetypal complexes residing in those memories and containing universal mythology, the elements of which are played out throughout the animation by way of various alterations and transformations but also through specific symbols such as ‘the tower’, ‘the moon’, the shadow’, ‘the hand’,’the throne’, or the elements such as water and fire.

Oracle Verdigris1 Oracle Verdigris 10 The Feather Player02 The Thinking Hand1 Tower of Oblivion1 Tower of Oblivion3

The vision presented is a flowing composition and a symbiotic composite that could have been extracted from a dream.

Dark Tower Divided,w

Wormhole” points to the possibility of entering a parallel dimension while remaining lucid of what the maker considers his own’ land’.“Labri” is the root of labyrinth, a reference to the underlying esoteric structure of the city. “Peripatetic” refers to the act of wandering by foot, linked to the idea of the flâneur who, by exploring the context directly travels inwards, analysing and re-evaluating his own internal constructs. “Ballad” refers to the nature of loss and poetry constituting the two foundational aspects of the piece. “London” is the name of the location in question, known to the maker since his childhood and as equally important to him as his native city. He is the “Nomad” , for despite having lived in this metropolis for over twenty years, no feeling of belonging has ever truly developed. Instead, the maker has gained a kind of philosophical detached discernment out of an impersonal environment he had once half believed, long ago, to be his home.

The work is divided into interlocking scenes suggesting a psychological in-evolution, perhaps equivalent to the passing images in the mind of a sleep walker as they migrate from one room to another inside a large mansion.


Towers of the Entropic Distortion2 Rip11w Towers of the Entropic Distortion Rip11w Towers of Entropic Distorsion1w Towers of Entropic Distorsion3w Towers of Entropic Distortion, Lunar Phase3w                 One could dare affirm there is a beauty in the destruction of beauty since the emotions stirred

Wormhhole Labri.S 2,w

are summoned from the expanse ‘de profundis’, of the psyche. One could also dare affirm the increasing level of hideousness of London is so extreme it has become ‘awesome’. a monstrous edifice challenging the borders of paradise with ever higher peaks, each more violent than the one preceding it, but more so, it is down below at street level, in the shadow of these blank feats of engineering that real ugliness lingers, banal and monotonous, enveloping the crowd within a suffocating smog of relentless repetition. This cine-animation brings these facets of the city into view while retaining a poetic filter, not to embellish but to do justice to the complexity and depth of the situation in which humanity finds itself at this juncture of post history.

Produced for the new Mnemonic City in London 2015

In collaboration with

Swan Wharf, Fish labs in Hackney Wick

and The Barbican



Anna-by Jaime Valtierra 2014

I once wondered why the painter ever makes a mark in the emptiness, what he /she intends to remember because this initial gesture stands as an entrance into a territory that demands visibility, no matter how indefinite, like dreams. And how is it possible in the first place? But we are not talking about a point of focus, quite the contrary. We could indeed speak of a phenomenological field as it is suggested in Deleuze ’s concept: “Plane of Immanence”. Jaime Valtierra ’s new works epitomise such a ‘condition’. There is no fixity here, yet, he arrests one moment like the spearhead of a battalion. There is no escape for form to the land of the ‘tableau’, for this artist denies the dictatorship of the ‘finished product’, i.e., as a cage of irreducible linear statements. We cannot fathom an end to the process of creation. As Deleuze explains, the “plane of immanence” encompasses death as an active participant in the act of transformation. In this work, what becomes demonstrated is the nature of destruction lying within every molecular impulse towards life and without the truth of which no creation could be realized. We discover the possibility of decomposition within the margins of compositional tactics, the hazards of a liquid underworld where Valtierra leaves traces in strategic places although none have been fixed. Relativity and reciprocity rule a universe in flux until the new body begins to make sense, a sense proper to life, an antithesis to the formalism of imitative artifice.

Two main themes are evident; one is the process and place of making. The Studio is a kind of doppelganger self-portrait enunciating the death of portraiture as we know it. Its completion is contradicted by a sense of imminent disintegration. As with all the other recent works, a minimal palette was used in extreme opposition to the rich color saturation of previous ones. The second theme, integral to The Studio, lies in The Digger. We are in the realm of the fool, the unconscious. His paintings remind me somehow of ‘écorchés’; the surface of preconception has been ripped away. He replicates himself, to arrive at what feels like the pulse of the image. He takes them apart, as if taking himself apart, reconstructing, yet never as a builder, but rather as a demolisher, for before getting to the outer edge of the original form awaiting his discovery, he must take down entire walls of conventional visuality. Such a process stems from the foundation of the art, that is, alchemy, “Our stone(…) is composed of four elements, it must be divided and its limbs taken apart(…)and then transformed into the nature that is within it.”(Rosarium Philosophorum).

Talking Head is the artist, the rational intervention, and the conscious’ apparent victory. There is no model; this is a return to what happened before what was known, the ‘nigredo’ of transmutation. Nicolas Valois tells us in The Mystery of Cathedrals by Fulcanelli: “ He who transmuted first had no books, he followed nature, observing how and with what materials she works”.  The ‘salvation’ resides in the materiality of experience, “satisfied in the absurdity”. As Jaime points out, and quoting Francis Bacon: “Some paint comes across directly onto the nervous system”. It seems Jaime Valtierra has fomented a dramatic existential rebellion against insubstantiality to unearth what he calls “the root of desire”. Anna may stand as the apex of this research in my view, a mother and an ogre, disfigured and omnipotent, blending with the air yet in a nightmarish sense, materializing before us.

Jaime unleashes the man out of rational time to dismantle the illusion of the pre-conceptual persona, the man Deleuze referred to as ‘the idiot’: “Something in the world forces us to think. This something is an object not of recognition but of a fundamental encounter. What is encountered may be Socrates, a temple or a demon. It may be grasped in a number of affective tones: wonder, love, hatred, suffering. In whichever tone, its primary tone is that it can only be sensed.”(Gilles Deleuze, Deleuze, G. Difference and Repetition). Is Jaime extricating this indefinable tone by departing from a certain color convention found in his earlier pieces? “ It is like dismantling a machine while it is still running, this means there is no machine”. What we find instead of logic and obvious seduction is a kind of ontological battlefield where the grotesque takes hold from the depth as it did in Goya’s Black Paintings so familiar to him. It has echoes of Not with Love but with Fear, 2013, where the artist’s head splits and doubles itself, a prelude to his present haunting images. Instead of the figure as fact, Jaime turns it into “an experience of space”, and insinuates space into the surface. We are entering Romanesque evocation, seeing from different perspectives on one plane, “it is so awkward it is right”, Jaime says as he looks at medieval illuminations.

We glimpse into a world that is not yet one, a meaningful dissolution where implosion and explosion occur simultaneously. We are certain of nothing, we are left to swim at large encountering ourselves, the poetry of nature beyond the superfluous aid of symbols, for symbols cannot survive in the chaos of life, even on canvas and paper. Jaime tells me it amounts to un-explaining, where the story cancels itself out, where the building block of imagery is nothing but confusion and drawing is as important as painting, a form of inner breathing, a mastication and a contemplation, a comprehending and apprehending of the dark and the light, the actors and the props.

The result if we can call the paintings and drawings thus, for they seem to allude pin pointing and definition, is soft and violent, grotesque and poetic, sexy and inhuman, a unifying muted principle, a return, as Jaime tells me, to the feeling of an image against the false safety of logic. “In order to make the accidental, all you already know must be dissolved.” He carves into the substance, creates volumes out of power relations between uncertain lines, makes gestures into spatial mediators, laying sub-layers bare, destabilizing planes out of focal absolutism. We are left to our own devices, staring into another kind of cosmos, perceiving what we imagine as we would, gazing at the impenetrable movement of foliage in the moonlight.  We can no longer imagine a painting to be the sole effect of a fantasy; this work reveals the imagination of the reel.

Copyright © Pascal Ancel Bartholdi 2014

Currently showing :

Tarik Berber, Alembic of a Process

Apparently there is such a thing as “La Cuisine des Anges” and there in the cool furnace of the glade, no one bothers with drama, for it is not the point, neither to inflict action on the eye nor to trigger reactions in the cerebellum. What may surprise us is the ease with which the hand of a painter can mobilise an era and engineer a counterpart by juxtaposing two diametrically opposed styles in a new form of harmony. It is a journey, not dissimilar to that of a gourmet tasting his way through cultures as disparate as they are related, hiding a common origin in a simple colour tone, or the intonation of a voice, thus interpreted as a curve wider than the breadth of a resolutely thin rectangle poised on the edge of another in the midst of hundreds of other rectangles, themselves also the repository of other painterly traces, drawn with utter precision as a backdrop to a scene empty of dogmatic scenery, for each element is essential, none speaks a message or invites the viewer to decide what it all means. We are in the land of the madrigal, a very urban single voice reverberating on each surface, echoed in each pattern, yet alone, modulating its own chords with sensorial elasticity.

There is in Tarik more of a Marco Polo than a Vasco Da Gamma, and like the traveller of Jules Verne he cannot limit himself to the here and now which, as we know, turn in an instant into the “once upon a time”, the bygones, the passé, the long ago…the “yesterday”. So how can we bring the relevance of the past into the incoherence of the present?

We may be subdued by a first impression of tranquil opalescence fused to a familiar sense of materiality perpetuated by the relentless motion of the knife and other devices beyond the realm of optical illusion, for this feels like the imprint of a deep emotional search into the psychological meanders of a civilisation in the throes of a subtle yet unsolvable contradiction. Tarik perhaps unwittingly uncovers the symptom of a fundamental flaw located in the region of the collective unconscious, portrayed before him through innumerable mythological scenes. Sophocles and Euripides brought about the limpid emergence of a cruel theatre exposing the dilemma eating at our soul. We are torn between desire of the flesh and aspiration of a supra mental quality, cities are filled with our “mal d’être” and artists somehow torture themselves with the vision of an impossible unison. Yet, I perceive this endless quest for the quintessential constituent in the molecules of stone, pigment, clay, ink or plaster will only cease with the final moments of our planet. This painter refuses to bend to the will of banality, yet he dares to exploit the effect of the mundane on the patina of a latent philosophy.

How is this done? The eye has trained itself to depict and decipher, to measure and replicate, it recedes later and lets the seat of transience, the spheres of universality inspire and expire. In these words resides more than a breathing exercise. They are also meant as a reference to pneuma. The catalogue open on my table is a compilation of works completed in two parts of the world, as different from one another as night is from day. This also entails they cannot be separated without causing the extinction of the other. The works were created respectively in Zadar(Croetia) and London. Leafing through the pages I feel as if I am actually peeling layers of art history, and equally need to negate the idea of a history of art. We have apparently reached a milestone, the edge of a flat plane of existence where we could once rely on indications of permanent identity. Somewhere along the line, a bunch of artsy business kids in the belly of London, in the late eighties of the first millennium, decided to call it a day and fake it while retaining a kind of irony; it was an unprecedented success crowing the post modern era with the death of authorship and beauty. The cumulated effect of entrepreneurship and the glorification of the product, pornographic saturation and empirical pathological obsession, numerical fixation and cultural trivialisation contributed, in the second millennium, to the rise of a para-evolutionary counter reaction that nevertheless was not based on a critic of a previous outmoded movement but on a personal ontological instinct, not of self preservation but self realisation, spreading below the thickening layers of apathy. Despite the prevailing erroneous notion of a linear artistic development through the ages, we are shown time and again how the single mind defies the canon applied to please a pervasive mob of dilettantes, arising without warning against the smooth tide of reasonable productivity and its affiliated moral etiquette. And this happened before, long before theorists agreed on the relevance, the birth and the extinction of the original, i.e., the unique vision of a human being and the singular materialisation of an imagination already embracing an impossible future. We could nevertheless speak of a lineage of poets in all forms and mediums who have illuminated the darkest valleys of history long before and long after the so-called age of enlightenment. These inspire the new generations, and Tarik indeed revels in this magnificent heritage, fusing this rich material with an evident love of contemporary visual expression.

I am not inclined on name dropping but a few ancients come to mind as I gaze at his works. I think of Mantegna, Pierro della Francesca, but also further back, of rock paintings as in Rocamadour, of Nordic Tempera, the catacombs of  St Callixtus, travelling towards Etruscan masters, Domenico Ghirlandaio, map makers from the 15th century, an example of Devonshire Tapestry, a 14th century illustration by Abelard of Bath,  then moving closer to our times, Puvis de Chavanne, Eduard Degas especially in some of the Zadar pieces, but also in Mystique 3 and 4 for instance, certain American painters like Katz, Jasper Jones, Hopper or Lichtenstein and on the continent, Gustav Klimpt emanating from the Lady in Dark Olive Green Stripes. But what strikes me is the feeling that I am not assailed by the weight of knowledge, that a certain freedom has erased the frontiers between what we call high art and sub-culture. There, in the midst of hazy faces, of the outline of sculptural bodies, of the entwined arabesques, of the complex patterns derived from the open source of the world, the presence of a fictional universe borne out of comic strips and graffiti is undeniable…such as Corto Maltese in the London drawings.

In the paintings the human figure is often treated like an objet d’ art, limbs are removed torsos are polished, faces turn to stone, the air surrounding them transmutes into psychedelic volutes, and this leaves one thinking of a museum of anthropological forms recently excavated, issued from yet unnamed archaeological layers of our past. This museum however is also the site of a hologram experiment where we can no longer be certain of the relationship between objects, space, thought, and time. They are characters fallen out of different stories, fragments of dreams that may lead the mind to the origin of mythology. Some seem ethereal, impossible to believe in terms of corporeal reality, others have mass and expressionistic baggage, one in particular, as his face stares at us, much larger than life. I met the man, but there is no doubt that, despite his acting feat, the person lingers therein. It is difficult to say whether the painter used the subject or the other way round to convey the affirmation of a personality. I am now aware the Sammy portraits are part of a study in view of illustrating Rod Stern’s poems. These facial contortions are anything but static, they tend to antagonise rather than exhort. Portraiture is somehow destabilised, thrown off the pedestal of traditional aesthetics. Once more the painter has made an unpredicted turn, he veers off the road into the ravine, but he is not driving a common vehicle, and his wings are not made of feathers and wax.

Copyright © Pascal Ancel Bartholdi 2015
Currently showing at Darren Baker gallery in London until the 30th of May

One choice left…From Consciousness to Conscience



Charlie Hebdo, cartoon3 

In response top the recent events of Wednesday 31st of December 2014 “where 10 journalists and two policemen were killed after gunmen opened fire on the Paris office of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo” preceding another event. Published: January 08, 2015 “The shooting is believed to have been carried out in retaliation to the controversial cartoons by Charlie Hebdo, targeting religion and particularly the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.”

What ‘lies’ behind this escalating situation?

So called religious fanatics are only fanatics, they could not begin to comprehend the difference between the sacred and the profane or the beauty of mystical contemplation. They are not any truer or falser, better or worse than government officials or overpaid executives… all con men/women, cowards, self righteous vapid mediocre minds with an insatiable appetite for a substitute breast that must feed them la crème de la crème 24 hours a day for ever as they gurgle in a soiled apron with resentful satisfaction and fart their way into para-paradise. Ultimately, those who pay for their backhand traffic are all of us, unarmed civilians. There is a problem…obesity and cholesterol saturation of the psyche, and so little time left to make up for the soullessness of the corporate gods…it is obvious they are in much hurry to close the deal. Even black holes apparently dissolve in the emptiness, not empty enough; that incomprehensible space contains life at its most extreme level of exultation. This is what those inane spiritual midgets squeal about. They cannot face their own insipid end, having accumulated an immense superfluous wealth of many kinds over innumerable generations….

It took one man more than 2000 years ago, or rather the death of one man to set the corruption machinery of an entire civilisation across the ages into motion, and this was for a very precise purpose: to establish the supreme example, to show how the wilfulness of an individual must be deterred and stamped out for the good of all, that is, for the good of a system of social repression by which all can profit so long as each remains faithful to their position. To show how even a unique sacred being can be defeated by a wrath mightier than the judgment of a god that after all is nothing but a pitiful invention concocted by the same impostors. To do this through a mythical account from several perspectives was quite a masterful stroke, a crime of universal misinformation aided and abetted by a bunch of egocentric mentally disturbed apostles and the like. What better proof that individualism is the most risky business ever to be undertaken, that any irregularity will be regarded as an anomaly triggering a plethora of obstacles at the best, ailments, derogatory criticism, ridicule, alienation, imprisonment, censorship, torture at the worst and death …death being the only exit left, a merciful epilogue following excruciating agony….the agony and the sorrow of he or she who dares oppose the will of the majority, the potentate of the mass in the image of the supreme magnanimous leader claiming to personalise the voice of the people, the force of an indisputable order, the coherence of lifeless law , and the democratic swamp of homogenous survival. The individual is condemnable, an abomination, a traitor to the nations, an usurper, a demon who must only bare not only his/her cross but the cross of the whole species for being such a shameful scoundrel.

What is an individual? The person who questions her/his own intentions in the light of her/his own conscience in the face of a peril that would be avoided was she/he to neglect it. This is the first rule we each will apply in order to stay alive in (our) society, that is to say not to linger on a troubling feeling that can only lead to the termination of peace in our worldly existence and the destruction of what makes up the sum of who we believe to be here on earth. Who ever begins to doubt this rule and comment against it will suffer mockery, beatings, maiming, isolation, humiliation, and annihilation, although these treatments have become if one can say, highly refined, sublimated, sophisticated, owing to the new prevailing technologies, for our ancestors the inquisitors, and the Nazis, to cite only two well known instances of organised violence against living beings, have left our ‘petits despotes’ a practicable and efficient legacy now quasi unrecognisable in the guises of helpful moral admonitions, global market packages, sensible advice on family planning, low interest mortgages, urban infrastructures, financial traps wrapped up in institutional or charitable benevolence, educational pseudo improvements(impoverishment) driven by economic priorities …and the ubiquitous cyber bureaucratic network, state of the arts global spying system we must sing odes to , calling out Santa, our Olympian guides, the ‘supa-brands’, our petrol fakirs, our futures’ prophets to our rescue in the nick of time, far too late in the day. It is then quite a night to come, cold, bent by the blizzard in our comfy sofa, lonely in our saturated social circuits, obsessed with our personal saviour, the little bluish screen lighting up the growing obscurity…until the batteries run out.

Did anyone think that it is not solely the light of stars that is fading in the outer firmament? Each one of us shone once, yet, what is left now is a sky that is slowly emptied of this wonder, the asters once populating the human sphere, dying once and for all. Yet is it really so? What if we had looked at a mere reflection? Stars may be moving away from a dark concave mirror. It is a reminder we should each also look away from an image that perpetuates the illusion of permanence and immutability, and rather than hypnotising ourselves with a semblance of individuality chaining our mind to the fear of loss, why not turn instead towards the sun within, and finding that a cosmos begins right there. Thereafter, what need would there be for a glittery fatalistic power structure any more than the need for a whale to be surrounded by the shell of a submarine? A grotesque comparison?…. Is this not the point? The charade we partake in is more ludicrous still.

Power structures and city-states are replicated and implemented at all levels of human existence, from the smallest circle, such as family to the greatest, such as species. It is also called society, which could be summed up in one word: blackmail. To leave society is equivalent to turning your back on the mafia or quitting the army while war rages, being aware we are conscientious objector refusing to kill another human being on an order passed on from the lard brain of an invisible figure of authority. It is therefore reasonable to assume such an act will be regarded as treason or desertion. It is suicidal. Most of us rapidly conclude the odds being against such a choice, the best bet remains compliance and compromise. It is not that simple however for no sooner have we adjusted to one form of self denial than we are strongly advised to cut another branch of our tree in order to afford the tax allocated to our newly acquired privilege. It is then we must decide whether to cut the branch of someone else’s tree who did not so readily comply so as to retain our privileges. Losing such advantages would mean to become ostracised from the resources by which our survival is sustained. We therefore justify this action thus. We are freed of guilt henceforth.

Our conscience knows this to be a subterfuge. It is therefore of utmost importance to emphasise the evil of who has now become a co lateral target in a game that makes prisoners of us all.

There are psychological prompts and emotive hooks that will cause a human being to justify the absolute violation of another human’s dignity and freedom. These entities, and the latter term is intended as a reminder that such humans have lost their individual humanity, are absolutely certain of an unretractable gain and of a full pardon, having been granted the permission to act out their sociopathic condition through the relentless re conditioning of their unbalanced mind by an authoritative body acting as the universal protector of global indiscriminate brutality towards any human who may happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (this constituting deliberate detachment from functional mapping) for the purpose of destabilising the equilibrium and disturbing the perception of each individual existing inside the matrix of the state, thus rendering them vulnerable and impressionable. We find this situation replicates the environment of a family where a child will be at the implicit disposal of the unacceptable demands of a figure of authority that possesses a mandate to do as he/she pleases by virtue of the innate trust put in him/her according to the social/familial framework. This implies the absolute submission of the child, a social and emotional submission that will displace any feelings of love, or rather, a psychological fatal osmosis will occur by which love will be associated to the implementation and maintenance of a regime of terror, the more subtle , the more efficient.

We could think it reassuring many police abusers or suicide bombers have not actually suffered abuse at the hands of an authoritative human being in their childhood. But there is also a question of a separation between the carrot and the stick, and how to extract the perfect product of military obedience out of two main distinct sources, i.e., the broken child on one hand, the hollow child on the other. (Here the broken child is associated with the stick, the hollow child with the carrot) The latter term ‘child’ refers to the stage at which development of a psychology was arrested by saturation caused either by physical violence, emotional violence, emotional blackmail, or extreme instances of indoctrination, over emphasis on success at all cost for the sake of family, religious faith or patriotism.

Were ten journalists sacrificed in the name of a deity? Not exactly. What is to be gained, and by whom, by the outrage of public assassination? How did the perpetrators justify their choice of action? Would you wonder how a hammer decides to hit a nail on the head? Were the murderers individuals in full possession of their mind? And if they were not, would this fact exculpate them? Would this supposition offend their fragile character? Are these fragments of society not performing a function dictated by their cultural environment? Are they not also victims? Would they find this thought insulting? Will they ever find freedom and peace, the principles attributed to the culture they abhor and attack blindly? An intellectual complex residing outside the shores of our ground level provinces, the manageable purgatory of our global techno-polis perpetuates itself by the propagation of our contemporary version of terror infiltrating all manifestations of ideology and politics.

He or she who has abandoned themselves to the ideal, and liquidated their natural asset, namely their individuality, can no longer listen to their conscience, or question the masters who make themselves known only through the ideal they incalculate. The spokes person will not be an individual but the voice of many. The many are not individuals, they are the container and reflector of the ideal declaimed by the spokes person. This conjures up images of glorious communion, of ecstatic unison, such as what is so magnificently portrayed in Triumph of the Will by Leni Riefenstahl…Not the will to live but the will to immortalise a state of perfection. The survival of the individual entails the possibility of imperfection and must therefor not be permitted. The result is then a uniform multitude that can be moulded into an image of immortality, for perfection is the (assumed) property of deity.

This is a new promise, no longer pointing to a distant heaven in the ether of the cosmos but to the earth as a state of pure synchronised choreography of humanity to which we must all aspire equally and ensure thereby the scintillating machine of progress will transport us into an apotheosis of collective empowerment. This is the offer we cannot refuse, a social contract we sign like a blank check with a gun directed at our free hand.

Yet, again and again, a glitch will appear on the sterile plane of scientifically validated existence. An individual will stick their neck out, rear their ugly head, raise their annoying voice, laugh when they should grieve, weep when they should sneer. A solution has evaded our weak tyrants. They will continue to pay savants to invent new apparatuses in the hope these will put an end to the individual right down to the last. In their dreams…if they have any.

Copyright © Pascal Ancel Bartholdi 2015

Florence, Citta Mnemonica, Galeria Xenos, Review

Citá Mnemonica // Firenze Pascal Ancel Bartholdi, Rodrigo César Ferreira, Anna Burel, Anna Capolupo, Yasmine Dainelli, William Howard, Rupert Jaeger, Yuri Pirondi, Jaime Valtierra, Ines Von Bonhorst, Andrea Lucchesi, Sebastiano Benegiamo, Marco Zamburru, Carmelo Cutuli, João Leitão, Laura Calloni, Jacopo Rachlik, Rebecca Filippi, Alberto Gori.   The artists of Gattarossa and Magma collective have once more gathered to create a new perspective on a city we may think we know.  The show combines  time based, stills and installation works.

Citta Mnemonica1


A special thanks also to Jacopo Rachlik who opened the gallery and offered advice and  the use of materials without which  this exhibition would not have been  possible.  His video work was shown at a later date.




Rupert Jaeger

Imparando da Firenze.


Rupert Jaeger

Four years ago, Rupert Jaeger went to new York and began his expedition into the warp. The places we see through the eye of the ‘invisible man’ form a kind of extra temporal series encompassing different cities including London and Barcelona where he had been in 2011. These are mobile yet  weirdly static spaces, almost sterile and other worldly because of the fragmented effect of the animation process and the prise de vue. Rupert tells me of a need to be there again, thinking of Barcelona for example. Something seen once, a postcard on a wall. He wished to relive the moment, somehow to revisit the space as it was…or as it always will be in this particular memory. The man in a  white anti radioactive suit had to construct a craft to transport his emotions from what we presume to be in the past to a time and place  we experience as (of)now. But the paradox here resides in the envelop of this moment, a medium that prevents him from being there as he is in his present entirety. Rupert confirms and contradicts this condition by duplicating himself. He is here watching himself there watching an image that contains part of him further back. The image opens into a back stage, at once an illusion and an affirmation of a feeling related to the place it represents. This is a game of ricochet through the personal eras of a man analysing  nostalgia in a strangely detached way. It is an ironic take on time travel. Besides, it addresses the notion of displacement, but not as a  sociological comment as we would find in Gulliver’s travels by Swift or Candide by Voltaire. We are led into the image that connects a space remembered to a space where it is being remembered. The medium is the gap into which the experience of linking those layers is made possible. For Rupert, this process approximates a spiritual state. Space and time are interlaced through the passage from one context into another. Each time this operates, the connection is questioned until we grasp the foundation of this exploration, an emotional quest into separate dimensions all existing yet physically or more so biologically impossible to access. The suit may signify the possibility of contamination from one memory cell to another. It protects the wearer from the collective unconscious that could interfere with private memories. Teleportation, even metaphorical has its risks. We could talk of a filtering re animation practice which, as Rupert tells me, could go on for ever.

William Howard 

Florence Extract A.

(Video) Bill Howard

The verb commuting is double edged. On one hand, Bill explains, it suggest a change, a journey everyone takes. In his view, this means the mind also changes as each journey is unique despite its repetitive nature. This also means he adds, we never return from it, since we are already different people as we reach the same point. On the other hand it is a mutation.  “co- mutating”. This is reflected in the transformative process Bill puts the moving image of the Duomo  through, a complex rendering; the multi layered progression of an image in a state of continuous virtual flux where each angle represents an environment that Bill amalgamates to the next, thus giving us a 360 degree rotation from a specific view of Florence integrating London views in one image. In order to arrive there, Bill had to make copy after copy, copies of other copies… He talks of a change between body and mind. Bill is an obsessive collector of flyers, newspapers, some go as far back as the 90s. With these he makes collages. one of the pillars of his practice. Meanwhile, he has been shooting from the centre of Florence to Xenos gallery, and  over the bridge right up to via San Gallo, making a record of all the gaps and holes. He was inspired by Wolfgang Tillman “Munich”, a view of streets. He wanted to reconstruct the same angle from the top of the Duomo. But he wishes to make it into a kind of Impressionist tapestry, in and out of time, finding a way to use a particular software against itself.  In doing so, Bill hopes to catch the missing corners and bring them to light, to bring what he feels is the real beauty of Florence to life. Commuting also describes a double existence in which the two sides are connected artificially. It means we become separate entities. We subsist by virtue of our alter ego, we no longer can tell which is alter, what is the recto or verso of ourself. Perhaps this is why collage comes in handy, to rebuild decaying links with a former self, with place and meaning.

Follow up (Etching) Bill Howard2

The bust of Sophocles…a stylistic composite. It is deliberately obscured by heavy remnants of ink fresh from the press, one of seven. Bill worked from a sculpture in the Ufizzi he visited nine times. It was a copy made around 1200 AD of a bust made around 400 AD. Bill suggests that the original was probably a good likeness of the features of the playwright.  Perhaps there were other copies in between and Bill’s is yet another which could contain an impression of the real man passed down from one interpretation to another, arriving at some sort of purer quality, devoid of imitation, derived from an emotional and intuitive connection. He travels backwards to the provenance of a character. His image is an example of a memory process in reverse, from light to dark. Bill brings a physical method into History and the digital process. João Leitão Retrato di Irena (video) Florence through the eyes of she who remembers everything, or she who can t forget anything. Joao points out that memory being the result of a process of selection, remembering everything means Irena becomes no one. The extra fast jumped up editing reflects  Luis Borges ‘ repetitive texts, a continuous yet broken flow of words. Joao asked himself how to make a work based on the idea of memory in a city he did not know. This led him to build a library in  which the circuit camera became a leitmotif, watching and erasing simultaneously.

Anna Burel 


(Photography, b&W analogue prints) Anna Burel

Eight small prints above and below a central image of what initially appears as a poetic prism of a land approached in a storm. As we look closer however, a chaos of organs and anatomical parts reveal themselves, and berried within this, the  profile of a woman, a sleeping beauty open to the gaze of merciless explorers. Anna went to the natural history museum and to the cemetery up on the hill above Florence. She took pictures of the photos of the faces of the dead…when still alive. Many showed the deceased as young people although the dates suggested they had passed over in old age. Those faces remained anonymous, some with names, others without, their tombstones eaten by the elements . She says some seemed to glow with a kind of beauty we attribute only to the portraits of the masters adorning the walls of museums and churches.  In the small prints, we notice the same female face appearing again and again, her body containing or intermingled with images of the city.

Rodrigo César Ferreira


(wood and walls) Rodrigo Ceasar

How do we keep the walls from caving in, like the nightmare scenario, walls closing in and no exit in sight? Rodrigo has propped pieces one by one in an open cavity where someone had forgotten to put a door….or perhaps not. There are no nails, no screws, no need of a drill or a hammer. It is about balance and logistics. But there, to suspend is added to suspension. It could give up any moment. Or we could use it as a book shelf eventually. No luck, the edifice has been caught in the tornado, someone got hit on the foot, escaping graver contusions. By chance, a photo of it existed and artists rebuild the piece meticulously and would continue to do so ad infinitum. This is what it is about.

Marco Zamburru


(Found object-A marble plate, a funerary stone) Marco Zamburru

Qui reposa….this piece was obtained from a  Florentine cimetery artisan . Marco hanged it above the stairs leading to the basement where videos are now playing.  But we are not necessarily aware of this, not immediately. These could be the stairs to the crypt where the remains of the man whose name is engraved here, have been laid to rest. Had I not known this place as a gallery, I would have believed this gravestone to have been placed there on the decaying wall in the early 20th century. There is no date of birth…a deliberate omission?… But the age of the man on the year of his death was seventy five. Some letters have been scratched out. It looks random. This makes the sign even more incidental, even absurd…but then tomb stones are absurd, like pillows and beds dumped on the earth covering a body that no longer makes sense, slowly returning to a chaos of pre biotic existence. The date of his death reassures us that life indeed had left him, that he was not buried alive. 13th of July 1913, just before the first world war. But the man described here does not exist. It is an ideal of a man inscribed in a stone whose weight is representative of an impossible perfection flattening all the details once present in the lines of the skin. A butterfly is balanced on the top edge as an antithesis to the stagnant power of the monument. It is as if the insect was still alive, having arrested itself for a fleeting moment, perhaps just before a last flight. They are born out of a chrysalis, seek a mate, make love and perish before the sun rises a fourth time. What would a man do given four days to live?…Somehow the frailty of this creature makes an ironic mokery of an unnatural effort to preserve the embellished memory of a being who will no longer be able to contradict it.

Carmelo Catuli

(Sculpture made of building foam and wax) Carmelo

He stands looking up, from his nose, a kind of ectoplasmic cloud frozen in time. Somewhere in there the specter of Giacometti wanders, but there is also something like a materialization of  lost pre Raphaelite figures on the edge of melt down.

(Monochromatic  drawing) Carmelo Cutuli 2

Like an artery feeding the city, a white road cuts into the land from the foreground . Pylons create a second frame of reference. They are setting the limits of our vision as they perhaps do in our life, as uncertain urban passengers. They direct the gaze, they delineate the perspective, reconstructing a mental image of nature on the edge, decaying as the city grows uncontrollably.

Anna Catalupo


(Technica mista) Anna Catalupo

Small paintings and drawings. Florence as we do not wish to remember it. Raw material and building tools. History wiped clean. bran new accommodation. Deconstruction of overwhelming beauty. (Animation) in collaboration with Simone Brillarelli. Cranes move in slow motion in grey light superimposed on marble texture, the main building material of ancient Florence. the sound is wary, creaking metallic repetitive.

Rebecca Filippi

Punti di Vista

(Animation) Rebecca

A Pigeon’s memory of a street of Florence. Simple short poetic black and white animated drawing. Florence, as birds fly down.In one flash, a colour filmed shot of a puddle, pigeons landing and fleeing. I did see Them touch the heads of gods with their tentative feet. But here, only a fast glance at an unnamed strada, like tourists without iPhones.

Sebastiano Benegiamo

Al Fresco

(Affresco grattato) Sebastiano Benegiamo

Three images two of which are made on cement, a third on canvas. Sebastiano uses an archaic technic. We detect structures, perhaps classical. They rise uncertain in the mist. The atmosphere has the colour of the material used to imprint the impression. The memory is fading, yet it is also fixed in the physical mass of the medium that reflects another era, a culture we only encounter in books, a narrative which meaning is unrecognised by the passerby.

Laura Calloni 


(Stampa Lambda su Duratran) Laura Chissene

Four square prints are back lit.They are set in a mock up concrete block resting horizontally on the floor. It is a lyrical piece. We can feel a silence only encountered in secret spaces, far from the public eye. We are invited to evolve in those fragments of nature, far from the noises of the city; these are privileged sanctuaries only accessible to us through the agency of transparent representation. Laura has decided to bring the wall down, cut windows into it and let the light through. She went on a detective mission and asked the owners of those private gardens, some of them parks, to be granted the permission to enter and photograph their content. We surely will never tread where she has. Only the ghosts and the rich of Florence can enjoy this delight.



Jaimi Valtierra


Jaimi Valtierra

These works are part of a performance : Marlon plays Adolfa Musso Lina Lisa by Marlon Random. A brutal encounter is scratched into the plate, as if to extract the hidden pain of a misunderstanding, or more so the  dismissal of an apparent understanding. The lines fight one another, they scream at each other, they rebel against harmony, they are bent and stretched to breaking point. This is how it is. Sometimes, there is no way to find a way out of the collapse. The connection disintegrates. The sounds come at you from where you least expect, they don’t have a source any more. There used to be a face where a blank stares at you. Then, instead of a hand shake , you get smashed up by some estranged interlocutor. You thought you knew him or her. He or she knows you better, they know how to hurt you, how to manipulate you. This is the beginning of a civilized war with no guns, no bullets, no weapons of mass destruction. Someone plays with your head. But Adolfa Musso has left a text behind her and signs on paper. Now we can reconstruct the tragi-comedy. The catharsis can grow out of the spectacle of the ill.


Andrea Lucchesi

Andrea Mnemonica

(Olio su Legno)

Andrea  Lucchesi

Two paintings In one, a solitary figure lies on the ground, in what feels like a thick fog as if seen by someone whose eyes are filled with tears. The vapours of nostalgia. Is this man dead or dying? Is he dreaming? is he suspended between doubt and desire? Has anyone else noticed him?…who is he?, is his identity relevant?… In a round painting, an unusual format although used in the Renaissance until the nineteenth century, two figures move away from the viewer. They seem to be floating, giving us the impression that they are no longer contained in matter. The atmosphere is almost more corporeal than they are, or in that world, all objects, live or inanimate, are traversed with molecules that are no longer subjected to the laws of this Earth. These figures symbolise the memory of a moment, their names are mingled with the words that attempt to describe them. In this world made of pigment and oil, Andrea relives a scene he has felt rather than seen, or if he has, it was experienced in different streets, different times, different lives, again and again, until a synthesis of light and shade burnt itself into his mind.


Yasmine Dainelli


(Calligraphia e gumprint)

Yasmine Dainalli


Prints  of ‘Florence’. A map dating from 1943  superimposed on a contemporary map. Below seven prints depicting specific places located in the map samples.Yasmine extracts a sense of being in the city, a sense of particularity out of the generalisation pervasive to urban management, and its manifestation in the form of mapping, a flattening of human experience through the pretext of empowering observation, the bird eye view of inter migrating population. we walk the city, we feel its meanders, its reformed quarters, its extensions, its inspirations  and expirations. Yasmin explores the map, digs into it, excavates, without imposing names, directions or functions. It is like a game where the flat pages of a book open into geometrical three dimensional shapes. The map turns into a place, the place instils a sense of space.


Alberto Gori

Prega per la Fine della mia Gioventù

(Mixed pianting techniques)

Roberto Gori

The urban landscape, the face of the artist as a boy, before the fall into the uniform comfort of the city. But there is a rebellion in the air. There is a painting, Alberto tells me it was the last he ever made. It was “counter academia”. He says it represents what he left behind, in his  early youth. He adds it could also symbolise a new beginning. In fact, he has painted a circle around a point, used in alchemy as a symbol for the sun and gold. A candle lights the alcove in which he has placed these objects. It reminds me a bit of Christian Boltansky. We may feel we are gazing at an icon rather than a real person, because this installation encompasses a state, an inaccessible condition where the soul still homeless despite being anchored in a body, reminds itself of a purpose that escapes it as it remembers it. The dot in the round is a centre that only exists by virtue of the visible perimeter, yet because of it it is impossible to access it. Alberto admits having grown tired of ubiquitous technology. He longs for the tactile universe of childhood, as I think most of us do.  This is a shrine but also an open space.


Yuri Pirondi

(Black and white Photographic prints)

Yuri Pirondi

Three images show different kinds of urban constructs in superposition.It is Florence, or is it another city ? London perhaps, as all modern cities resemble one another  , one old, the other new, one somehow idealized and preserved, the other, rampant with totalitarian progress. They exchange places, both ghosts of a sick utopia, although ancient walls will always have more to say than fibre optics, silicone and plexiglass. We cannot explain why. Classicism however is also a commodity. The art of the renaissance for example is not kept safe because it is beautiful or inspiring but because it is a currency. Those buildings belong to the market, they are kept in a precarious equilibrium by fantom transactions in the higher spheres of the global economy. In each image, something sinister takes hold of the eye. There is a ufo about to land, there is a big machine gun about to fire, there is a city about to crumble in the white heat of a radioactive wind. A latent battlefield in the cradle of history.


Ines von Bonhorst

La Caduta


Ines von Bonhorst


Leonardo’s ecce Homo redefined by urban cacophony. He is bathed in the colours of a sun set, or perhaps the opposite. He himself is Adam, made of red earth. He is naked and headless. His head is the context in which it is ensconced. The architecture that constitutes his environment cuts into him. It imprisons him. But despite this apparent handicap and perhaps as a result of this limitation, the man has grown extra legs. He is dancing in suspense, his new territory a diamond chiselled out of the blackness.


Ines Von Bonhorst and Yuri Pirondi



Ines and Yuri


The Day by Yuri Pirondi Coming into the city. Aurora. the streets unravel, the pace accelerates. Somehow things have changed  particularly in the last seven years. As many europeans, Yuri moved to London and visiting Florence in his country of origin reminds him how both cities have in a way moved on a similar path while a strange battle seems to move him within , a choice between lives, between cultures, between pasts even. He travels here, not only in his memory but the memory of history, of art. Many have also chosen Florence as a refuge while retaining  and perpetuating their own cultural identity, traditions that permeate the new fabric of urbanity while it infiltrates  them.  He could also be a foreigner here, as he is in London. Perhaps he no longer recognises the surface of things, instead, he reads a different story. As we are led through the outskirt of Florence, a voice permeates the narrative with sadness but also with a kind of astonishment and anticipation. Yuri tells me he was inspired by Calvino’s “Invisible towns”. Perhaps certain cities contain many. in Calvino’s novel, it is suggested Venice is such a place, with many faces, the faces of different women. But not all cities are feminine. Yuri concentrates on Ponte del Indiano because it is a Frontier and a centre. It became so in the 1970s when a population of Chinese emigrants began to arrive in San Donnino. There was also the scandal of the incinerator. Many people died of poisoning caused by dioxin leakage.  A Lion dances on the bridge, it is Vietnamese, and through him, we are transported not so much to Vietnam as to London where Yuri saw first  it. It is a dance of life, self affirming and a defiance in the face of global homogeneity. The day is a battlefield where speed and violence intermingle with joy and multicoloured vision.

The Night by Ines von bonhorst For Ines, The night is divided in two parts. The character of the nymph emanating from the full face of the moon and the double face entity, at once a more mysterious and androgynous aspect inked to the dark side of the moon, although with no negative connotation. These are archetypes containing the history of our earthly satellite, la Luna. Each one of her phases is like a composition in which our ancestral relationship is played out. Ines responds to this mythology by embroidering her personal tapestry and recreating the atmosphere we humans have been seduced by over the ages.  The nymph echoes the statues like a statue herself come to life in the light of the heavenly mirror. She has escaped the pedestal she has been fixed upon. She only appears at night like lucciole. We follow her path, through the arches, the colonnades, the bridges, the alleyways, all deserted, alien to the daily roamers, a parallel city, perhaps gliding, like the moon, in our astral memory. The other figure rises slowly, like a plant awaking to lunar gravity and the pulse of her silver glow, an undulating mercurial presence. It seems to grow from the stones of a city that like the kingdom in the story of Sleeping Beauty had sunk into a deep coma. Each face reflects a different myth. One is quiet and inverted, like a lake, high in the mountains of Peru. The other, tilts towards the solar power.It becomes the night sun and harks back to Etruscan masks. We can imagine this to be the embodiment of a tribal god invoking the spirits of the ocean.In this being, sun and moon unite in a moment of silent adoration.



Pascal Ancel Bartholdi 

Teatro Teleportato

(Black and White film based prints)


Figures are composed within an architectural setting, they integrate the material of the structure. The human form demands geometrical solutions that in turn may repress its evolution in space. But these configurations emulate an understanding of a space already defined and re calculated, a spatial reconstruction designed to transport the imagination rather than the body. In the renaissance in particular, surface became the playground of perspectival virtuality masters such as Giotto, Masaccio, Piero della Francesca, and Ucello, but there is a Romaneque humor there, that cuts through the seduction of the tromp l’ oeil. In one of the images, the figures are engulfed and dwarfed by the brutal machinery surrounding them, the darkness emanates from it and pours onto them like the deluge. In another, the Duomo is turned on its head, some wall details fail to match, but the characters float within this inverted monumentality like seraphim. In a third image, the cluster of figures seem to aspire to the heights of an inaccessible dome. There is no doubt these are contemporary individuals, yet their posture and the composition of the scene evoke disparate eras of art history, namely those encountered in Florence, in particular the Renaissance from its outset to its end although we can also detect Mannerism and Tenebrism including the art emerging from seventeenth century Netherlands. There is no direct reference however to any period in the development of art because the essence of these works resides in the very personal archetypes of the psyche. These are the initial findings of an ongoing research into the relationship of the soul with the city.     Copyright © Pascal Ancel Bartholdi 2014

The double life of Dalnarcis in Argentiera

The double life of Dalnarcis in Argentiera

Part of Almanacco Migratorio

Argentiera Dalnarcis1 w


Almanacco migratorio é un progetto di residenza artistica nel borgo minerario dell’Argentiera, in Sardegna.


Dalnarcis Allegoria1w Dalnarcis Allegoria2w Dalnarcis Allegoria3w

The double life of Dalnarcis in Argentiera

As was his habit, Dalnarcis went to explore the area he had landed in almost by coincidence, a friend of a friend having invited him, as he was about to leave. On the very day of his planned exit, he boarded a plane to Alghero. This town was situated on the Island of Sardegna in the South of Italy, the community of Sassari, but his exact destination was a quasi deserted village on the North west coast facing the deep Mediterranean, then further still, the Atlantic, Argentiera. Dalnarcis walked up a hill fighting the windblasts, the ocean in a state of extreme disturbance throwing foam as if it was spitting at him and anyone else daring to approach. The moon was waxing. That day, her translucent half rose above the highest peak. It began to rain and the wind pushed him into a rocky recess. He slipped under a bush; the craggy ground covered in broken silver slate and sandy earth was still warm. It felt like a mammal. He fell into a deep sleep, but not before noticing a little mouse with a very long tail sliding passed his body. She paid no attention to him as he stared at her with utmost curiosity. “A country mouse”, he sighed to himself. She turned towards him as if catching the drift of his thought. Time passed, slower than he was accustomed to. In his sleep, Dalnarcis was peering into a foggy mirror from which a melancholy voice was rising. “The more of you there is here, the less there is elsewhere. If you are, and can we say, the more you are, will your existence become less defined? If you think you know who you are, how will you know who is thinking? Can we say feeling is to being what thinking is to existence? How can you tell it is you and not the character in the book? …If you see the world only as a human being, how can you be there in the world you think of? If you cease to exist, who will live in your place? Can you be inside of existence or is existence an escape from the possibility to be…be you or neither in nor out? And if existence is a human concept such as Platonic Solids, Cartesian logic or Sartrian philosophy, removing your outer dimensions and dropping the content into another recipient may open a can of worm holes where most of us dump our mental garbage…”The voice rolled in and out of focus, and the fog dissolved until he could distinguish his features. To his dismay, what he saw was no longer recognisable; or rather it resided outside of his expectation. Certainly, it was not human. Dalnarcis woke up with a knot in his throat, gasping as if he had been stuck under water. The waves of the ocean below were breaking against the cliff that looked like molten rock in which thin layers of white granite had been trapped in the furnace. Closer to the beach, there was an opening. Some men once had dug there, searching for silver. He felt lighter and unobstructed by the relentless worries the world was once made of. It seemed a distant land now, a vapid cacophony. There was something strange and new and he suddenly felt a surge of horror as his eyes now fully opened travelled along his form to arrest the gaze on his hands…a set of sharp claws at the end of grey haired paws. For a moment he convinced himself this was still a dream. He could after all see his real body lying there under a yellow flowered shrub, but it was separated from him by at least two metres. This defied his logic, and soon after, the body shook violently, got on all fours and ran off like a lunatic into the wilderness. He followed it for as long as he could. He went down the hill. He saw everything as it was but it all appeared different. First of all, the structures so familiar to him were vast, alien to his minuscule self. Secondly, he recalled them to be of some use, although this seemed now an absurdity. There were too many angles, too many unsafe spaces. And he disliked the recurring displacement of sky, the diversion of solar light. Nowhere could he detect water cavities or soft earth to dig into. He would have to look harder, stay awake longer. Furthermore, his ears were ill adapted to a sub-noise that was at once confusing and pervasive. It occurred to him that, were his body found, literally out of his mind, he would soon be arrested and sequestrated, incapable of ‘normal’ reasoning. What that meant was now a new enigma to him however. Was he an abnormal mouse? How would he be received in this animal dimension were he to be confronted with a similar species?

Dalnarcis decided to imitate the gallop of a horse to hurry to town. The village had once been the hub of  a mining population until the 1960s. He recalled seeing some inscriptions left by flaneurs in the belly of the derelict factory on his way to the beach, the oldest dating from 1992, the newest from 2011. Most of these buildings were a weird hybrid of ancient technology and modern industrial design. Although some effort had been put in the regeneration of their appearance and even the creation of a museum , the work had at some point been halted, funds probably lacking or simply drifting into a loop hole. Some rich man from Rome had bought most of the land anyway, and those who had remained after the crisis, leading to the fall of the silver trade in the region, the process of extraction and purification of the metal having become more expensive than its worth, had to emigrate to other lands. The new land owner had bulldozed the worker’s properties one by one without mercy…a contrary tendency to that of ambition. Only a few were left belonging to the lucky ones who had managed to purchase them. He also remembered meeting a fisherman and his family high up on Via Montevecchio who had witnessed all the dramatic changes from as far back as the 1970s. In his collection of photographs, one could see how the village had been ravaged, its large austere stone homes having been razed to the ground, leaving a disfigured view of the bay. It looked as if a war had struck this peaceful busy little place, leaving practically no survivors. There were even abandoned villas and a cinema that no one would ever mistake for one. This fisherman and his wife had invited him and his friends, one of whom had known the fisherman since he was a boy, to share their house wine, very similar to Moscatel. The man was one of the most spectacular characters he had met, reminiscent of certain novels written by Balzac or in a very different era, by Norman Mailer, Jack Kerouak or Henry Miller. He had the impression of encountering a mythological figure, larger than life, yet absolutely here, humble and generous. Now their tiny dogs would lump him up in one sweep of the tongue. Despite the gallop, it took an hour instead of fifteen minutes to arrive ‘a bon port’, which he sensed was an over optimistic expression. He looked around him; concrete slabs and hollow bricks were fusing in a terrifying amalgam. There seemed to be no end to this giant construct where nature was tolerated so long as it was compartmented. He felt estranged and in peril. His new clothes…he preferred to think of it this way, made him aware of a new status, leaving him in a condition he had come across and even felt deeply but with a certain detachment, and with doubts.

Somehow there were no doubts in him now. Every detail was clear-cut. Still, he did not comprehend these details any more. It was as if he was confronted with a zoomed view of a three-dimensional map right up close, precise, tangible and absolutely abstract. ‘He was not himself’ he thought. At least, this was his excuse. Sure, other people had used this pretext to commit inhuman crimes. But here and now, in this guise and this role assigned to him by some demented fate, what was his crime? Not being able to interpret human signs, and therefore losing some original notion of existence…He followed a beam, trespassed into a dusty floor, left funny micro prints behind him, hopped onto another beam, and, to his astonishment, found himself back to where he started. A whole lattice of wood was materialising in his field of vision, with no beginning or end. This felt rather nightmarish, although it combined the memory of works by two of his favourite artists Escher and Piranesi. But to be stuck in a work of art was perhaps the demise of unnatural mice. Other things also took their place and began to fill up the retina with innocuous ideas. He found no justification for them, their realisation remaining in the domain of, at most, grave improbability. The air contained a powerful scent of varied alcohols and petrol with a hint of sweetness and a whiff of grilled meat and herbs. The compound of smells began to concentrate between the beams. The air also contained light waves he had never perceived before. They mingled with the odours. Differing waves interacted all around him everywhere he turned.  Doorways were now megalithic gateways, cars looked like fluorescent inflated insects raging so loud his eardrums could have exploded as they raced passed his hiding spot, deep in the foundation of a crumbling wall. Who would notice two white dots in the blackness? They punctuated a long hesitant breath. The metallic creatures, as he saw them now, moved the atmosphere like enormous ships moved the waters. He almost fainted with fright. The surfaces in that contracted space, a vast space possessed by divisions, were brutally angular. This made them ruff to him despite any apparent smoothness. How could he run across the path without losing his balance? It made no sense to his senses. He felt the tilt of the earth under the tarmac. The openings in the walls were barren, some were like vertical ice sheets but lukewarm to the touch. Parts of this puzzle were coming lose. He had jumped on a stone that almost dissolved into powder. This was a particularly unreliable topography. What appeared transparent was solid and what seemed solid was made of dust. Or was it part of the game of reversal he was now subjected to? He felt entranced by one facade. It looked like a face. Frankly, human faces had begun to appear odd and deformed, an anomaly of nature. This one was something between man and amphibian, a gargoyle with flapping eyelids, its skull bones protruding, a moribund singing like a whale from a deep crack in the forest.

I wanted to look for me or rather my previous appearance in this jungle of metal, glass and wood …wood without branches or leaves, strange expressionless, semi living, incapable of growth. I wondered directionless, between shutters, in the gutters, behind shadows, in the canal empty of water, the tunnels now blocked to larger animals, the shelters’ faltering roofs, the broken frames, the piles of dirty empty bottles, the gutted fridges left adrift in the valleys, by the furies of the ocean. I caught a glimpse of him, some mangled shape, carrying nausea on its broken back. Once more, Marie Shelley’s fallen mass of paranormal life rose in my mind, ‘Daimon’, I sighed although no such word came out of my mouth. The sun had passed. I could see everything apart from the metal brutes that blinded me as they roared past in the semi darkness. He had curled up in a corner, a recess in the building looking over the sea. This was a shell of sorrows. He then crawled into deeper obscurity. I sensed his fear, greater than mine. I felt his incapacity in willing to transport a massive body through the maze of an alien space. He preferred to seek absolute anonymity. I then realised I no longer had the capacity to let an exterior force impose a name and a narrative on my life no matter how insignificant and infinitesimal. Since the great schism between ‘he’ whom I was, Dalnarcis, and ‘he’ who appeared to be me, since that great divide between the psyche and the persona, between the reality of being and the theatre of illusions, between being and existence, ‘he’ had become ‘I’ while the social construct, the embodiment of ego had become ‘he’…a stranger lost in an ancient site of silver, the seat of the Lunar god. I like the moon, was now a cyclopean rodent, the errant intellect imbued with a soul whose skin had been stripped, a life of its own floating in one entropic lump around a natural spirit.  I no longer knew him. But did he know himself better than he had known me?

He scurried, infiltrating himself in a crack he had judged just wide enough not to entirely rip the fabric of my clothe  now more or less in shreds. He threw a fast glance back at something behind him. He had smelt me and perceived my presence as unknown, yet familiar, an enemy. Me, so little, a predator of my kind. Or rather what had once been part of my world, perhaps for centuries, as I passed from one ancestor to the next…this was no longer so far fetched considering the last events. He was getting used to my body! Getting faster at evading unwanted attention, at slipping in the gaps, although I noticed his absolute surprise when on one first occasion, he attempted to enter a hole one thousand times smaller than him. I laughed…but this also was a surprise. The sound I emitted then resembled the typical high notes emitted by a mouse, those we imitate badly in jest, a comical interjection. “When the cat is away”…I thought, and in a flash realised I could become the next meal of any such feline roaming the streets of Argentiera. I felt like drowning my sorrows in the liquid intemperance of the sea. I rushed on the gravel. Each piece was a rock to me now, I had to bypass some just too large to jump over. My body had last been seen by the edge of the mine’s factory facing the beach. I entered the premises without a sound. I was still getting used to this silent motion, in addition to the easiness with which I could in fact enter anywhere, any time, without being noticed, benefiting from a kind of invisibility. Total stillness can have its advantages. It was enveloping me with a kind of neutral space bubble, although the danger resided in my own distraction. In that inner sanctum, I began to doubt my own origin and if I had been given birth at all. This was the question I pondered upon, and had been since I discovered the stars above me while travelling at low velocity in the back seat of a Renaud. I wondered, knowing stars hurtle away from our galactic heart at ten kilometres per second according to new findings, how many years it would take for us to contemplate an empty sky. Nevertheless, in this specific incidental point, my alertness had quadrupled, (a random estimate based on records of past awareness of my surroundings). Was I still sleeping? I wished to confront myself. Was the mouse soul getting a taste for large format anatomy? Was it intrigued by the potential of ultra dexterity provided by the design of our hands? Was it beginning to discover new cerebral pathways and how would it decide to make use of them? He was close, I could feel it. I felt observed from two perspectives. I froze. A massive head suddenly grew out of the dark. A second elapsed stretching from the Earth to the Moon which was full that night. I could see myself in those round eyes, the pupils so dilated one could have been swallowed in each of them, particles sucked in one, waves in the other. This cat did not see me as a human trapped in the body of a mouse. My personality had become irrelevant if it had ever been so in my former life. Or if he did, this would have explained the ironic smile on his face. A terrifying howl surged from his throat, like a gargling sound, preparing the oesophagus for the consumption of a small object of desire. I had never been so close to the mouth of such an animal we like to call domestic. To me, this was the land of peril, savage, pure, unequivocal, beyond any architectural limitation or social doctrine. But as I resigned myself, my small realistic self to be devoured with one snap of a jaw, a shadow rose ominously above us, some unnamed god from the subterranean regions flooding everything in its path, to clear the way for a new age. Two lights scintillated as I became encircled by this presence. Something wrapped itself around my minute frame. It could have crushed it instantly.

I must have lost consciousness. In that other world I awoke in, the village had suddenly become lit up with candles. I heard names spoken, as if someone was reading from a guest list. They resounded in the square, where, on a bench, a few locals had posted themselves to admire the view at the end of the street. As I looked around and above, I noticed buildings once in ruin had been transformed into some kind of screens, like outdoor cinemas, or light houses, some had been adorned with frescoes. I could not read the pamphlets that had fallen to the ground and this alarmed me. Still the names made sense verbalised. One of those had been mine. Among them, these were the ones I remembered: sebastianbenedjiamo, marcozamburu, inishvonbonhorst, yasminedainali, albertogori, iuripirondi…The voice almost chanted until it died down as each candle melted behind windows covered in greasy dust that had not been opened for some years. I vaguely recollected this was the time of a festival and it was amusing to me now to think this thing called art felt as strange as the state i found myself in. How My original brain would define it was impossible to tell. I then thought it was amazing how, by merging my human psyche to the cortex and morphology of a mouse,   my powers of cogitation were not entirely veiled. Instead certain faculties decreased while others were magnified. It could be associated to the creation of anagrams…I could only take a wild guess at the transformation of my alter-self. That condition was somehow initiating the birth of what had lied deep and dormant within me. It was not so far fetched therefore to imagine an agonising town at once revived by a novel idea, a festival that would attract not only the attention of the local population but also, why not, of the rest of the world, people from far away places searching for a jewel in the middle of nowhere. It appeared impossible, especially in the face of a dwindling demography and a lack of commerce. In a way, this village was almost a carcass, many houses, although newly built, unfinished and collapsing.

This had also a precedent. Yet as a mouse, how could I now participate in a context where my presence was considered at best entertaining, at worst a nuisance to annihilate. I opened my eyes again, my mind filled with problems related to fundamental flaws in the relationship between mankind and the universe. My own face stared at me with a gaze not so vacant as incommensurable. Could he or I re-cross the divide that seemed like an abyss? It was then I also became aware I was lying in the palm of my hand. The creature swayed it like mother would rock a pram. I accepted this absurdity as a natural development. With a new sense of serenity, I accepted this limb as an extension of me; more so, this was now the weirdest form of transport at my disposal. We passed a container that according to some distant knowledge looked like a train wagon. But in this room filled with rusted machinery and fluttering pigeons, it looked completely out of place. A wagon that never left the station. It had been constructed on site as a filtering crater. The raw material had fallen into it to be separated from its precious content. It had not been running for a few decades, an archaic piece surrounded by contemporary windows. In such a melange of styles, my phobic anachronism faded into thin air. We seemed to ascend and descend without an exit in sight. Soon, a thick metal fence stopped us, behind it, a gaping hole encircled by a short concrete wall. All around, utensils, engine parts, tools lay mostly incomplete or broken in a thick film of dust. I felt his body shaking, uncertain whether it was out of excitement or anxiety. To my horror he climbed, as I had once hoped to do, and oscillated above the darkness. It dawned on me this was one of the shafts leading to the mine far below. I had been there a few days earlier and perhaps a feeling of premonition came over me. I turned away and left in a hurry. I could feel his mind searching for a way in. No human had been there since…I knew not. This however was no mere human being, nor was I, having been converted to the position of a driver who had lost control of his craft, a super massif lorry heading for oblivion.

What had repulsed me was attracting him irresistibly. It was already too late to escape, no chance of getting to safety as the whole weight of my ex-corpus vacillated, then swayed from one wall to another as if to the fast beat of a metronome, engaging in this descent like a circus acrobat, with one hand and two feet, balanced above the void. I stopped breathing as the ‘tenebra’ engulfed us. A breeze woke me. Only my eyes could move. At first I thought I was floating on deep blue waves. But the first colour I perceived was green. Pale azure appeared behind patches of verdure as they trembled in the wind. I could hear the sea breathing gently. Something else was there, alive in the corner of my eye, staring at me. It was perfectly still, a statuesque organism of wisdom. Yet I could hear it speak. “Wake up” it whispered.  I thought this strange and began to recall the images of the fall…” But if I am not awake, where am I, and who is the mouse?” No words left me. I could not tell you now if I truly did wake or continued dreaming until now…If I died in the mine shaft or lived on in the palm of my meta-human protector, despite walking back to town, mechanically, as if nothing happened.

Copyright © Pascal Ancel Bartholdi 2014