The first “free” day in a while, and a sunny one, yesterday, on Lido di Venezia, seemed like an invitation to take a walk with my camera, tripod and scarf to see if I could find a tree to perform with somewhere on the shore. The previous days I had spent on Giudecca from morning til night engaged in an event called Accessing Performance, as part of the Camino Events related to the Research Pavilion organised by University of the Arts Helsinki and many others. The event was inspiring, but now I needed a break. So I walked and walked, enjoyed the fresh summer and admired the pine trees leaning here and there. Some of them were supported by huge crutches, so I realized I should not increase their burden by trying to sit on their trunk. And the background with rows of bath houses would not have been very exciting either, so I decided to return to the hotel. On my way back, crossing the street, my eyes fell on a strange tree in the roundabout, or rather a thick branch extending close to the ground, almost like the trunk of a giant elephant. The tree looked inviting simply because of that large very low bending branch. That is a place to sit, I thought, and immediately decided to try, despite the strange location in the middle of the roundabout.
When I went closer, I noticed there was some little toy on the branch. I did not move it but sat next to it.
Trying out various positions for the camera on tripod I ended up making four attempts. The first one was a spontaneous placement of the tripod and resulted in a silhouette image with the human figure and the tree as dark forms in the foreground with the traffic in the roundabout in full light. I decided to make another version from the opposite direction, perhaps to use in combination with it. That image had a more balanced light, but looked rather flat, with my back very close to the camera and thus too big. I tried to move the camera further away and get a little bit more of the curvature of the branch within the frame. And in order to maintain the logic of pairs, I took another image from the other side of the tree as well. The last image turned out to be the best one, although my wish to include more of the main trunk of the tree makes the composition slightly imbalanced. With a photograph that would be easily corrected with a tighter framing on the right, but video is more complicated. And since I have a habit of using all the material, having a hard time discarding less successful alternatives because of my love of variations, I will probably edit videos of all four versions of these images.
Lido di Venezia was my home base the first time I came to Venice in October or November 1996 (or was it 1995?) to write and compile the text for a radio play loosely based on the structure of Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, and to do some recordings as well. I lived in a pension on Via Marco Polo, a small street on Lido, which gave the radio play I worked its title. That work I used as the first entry on my Harakka webpage created in 2000, as if my life as an artist would have commenced with that work, and not with the Bacchae in 1978, see Via Marco Polo 1-3 for more about the radio play. I took a walk this morning and found the street, but there was no pension there, although one of the villas looked strangely familiar.
There was an old cemetery at the turn of the road, which I cannot remember at all, although it must have been there twenty years ago. It was closed, no access, and that seemed like a sign. The past is a strange land, a closed cemetery we have no access to.