Estraneo, published by Lugo Land
for Edizioni del bradipo, Lugo (RA) 2015
52 pages, 18 black and white plates
210 × 280 mm, softback
Curated by Francesco Neri,
Luca Nostri, and Tim Davis
Designed by Filippo Nostri
The Stacks, New Orleans
Koenig Books, London
An investigation of the small town of Lugo in northern Italy. Situated in the Lowlands of Emilia-Romagna, Lugo and its environs are flat, dry, and sparsely populated.The book is the result of the first Bard Lugo Land Residency in collaboration with Edizioni del Bradipo.
"Why talk about a place? A place is so much more cycloramically itself than any way we can describe it that our words and our pictures and postcards and passport stamps amount to stray neutrinos passing through a cathedral. What are we hoping to say; that it’s possible to holler outside the gates and have no one hear you; that families bored with vacation slideshows have had a much needed rest?
I remember hearing the critic Harold Bloom give a lecture about Emily Dickinson. He gave a gorgeous close reading of one of her poems, and talked about her being 'the most cognitively complex poet in the English language.' Then he proceeded to denounce Marxist and Feminist critiques of Dickinson for being reductive. I nearly stood up and yelled, 'You’ve got it backwards, old man! The poem is undiminishable, unassailable! It will outlast and outshine any set of readings, including yours.'
So that’s why we talk about a place: because there is no Borgesian map the exact size of a city. Any place is inexhaustible. Google Maps is a barest drop in the bucket. And any very thoughtful cartography, like the photographs of Richard Max Gavrich, only elbows out room for more meaning. Let’s let Emily Dickinson talk about it:
'I went to heaven,—
’Twas a small town,
Lit with a ruby,
Lathed with down.
Stiller than the fields
At the full dew,
Beautiful as pictures
No man drew.
[…] I’ve always admired photographers who respect the camera enough to let it describe things far away. The camera doesn’t care if someone is up in its face. And Gavrich’s large-format camera loves the wilting postures and careful strides of the distant anonymous people, enabling him to see how they move through their day without commenting, inevitably ignorantly, on their inner lives. He has called his project “Stranger” and talked about a place from the confident distance of a poet."