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Enrico Ghezzi

On Pursuit

RVM, Postcart éd.,  2010

 

There is no photo which doesn’t compel (me) to think about the chain or garland (it’s up to you; but for short, I mean the rollfilm) to which it belongs and whence it escaped, or flies back to. This is the reason why I cannot but pity, perhaps with admiration, whoever takes/shoots a photograph, and for sure professional photographers, considering that I already admire, with dismay, the ability, or the insouciance, of a motion picture director in knowing how to stop even a single sequence (and then mount it! A vertigo we fail to appreciate, as either we would at once shut our eyes, or wide-open them beyond facial constraints, searing and losing them, while for an instant they would recover– prior to dying out upturned and disappearing – their own eyesight). Little do I know about the photographer Pak, even though it seems to me that I know a few of his photos, seen in some periodical, or perhaps here, on the magazine of magazine and museum of museums – I mean the internet – where everything scurries about, its instant already archived, like a chorus ballerina in a parade that incessantly goes on, amalgamates and starts all over again (the projection cubicle empty, a few mercilessly naked types moving about). It could very well be that I did never see them, accustomed as I am to drop with fearsome automatism in the interstice between delayed anticipation/anticipated delay, in which every image reveals itself bare and I am overwhelmed by the déjà vu (the simplest yet most unnerving of ‘inner experiences’: the wall of light fades out, crossed at neuronal speed by a train of thought which doesn’t reflect itself just because it is maybe a reflection of ourselves, an invisible mirror, of which we might as well become aware of – if only it slowed down its act a bit).

Pak. A very strong assonance: the frozen sea expanses of the Arctic ocean, of offshore Alaska, of Jack London. Glaring images of the great whiteness that anyone can remember or find remembered in the inner self, without ever having been there (but also the echo of one of the commonest Korean surnames, originating from a founding tribe of the Korean peninsula legendary epics). As I fall prey with sweet abandon to the usual operations which increasingly clarify the absentee image I’m toiling about in this place of relentless visibility, arriving at the full screen, I am again, or more than ever, disappointed, wishing that the image just disintegrated, disappeared, flowing into dissolution, free from her own choice of coagulating and freezing in order to be seen. Pursuit Pursuit(s.) pursuit. All the meanings supplied by dictionaries are immediately (and almost trivially) suitable: search, hunt, pastime, diversion, career, legal proceeding, and so on. And obviously enough, the pursuit of happiness, the over bicentennial right sanctioned by the official American dream. It could be said that (emphasizing thus the difficulty met by the authorial “pakfilm” in laying open its plot, or suppressing it in the face of un-surmountability) the American dream of happiness froze unfroze and refroze time and again, mainly in the Hollywoodian motion picture artistic-industrial Sistine chapel, whose vault fractured and crashed repeatedly, anticipating the towering collapse of nine-eleven-o-one. Pursuit appears to be the easy reversal of that dream (we think about a lot of American films from the end of the 60s and the 70s, up to the productions of Aldrich or to Houston’s Fat City, but we do not refer to decades of an already-established historiography: consider all of Eastwood’s cinema, the ultimate spatial and quasi-a temporal mix of sordidness and classicality. The force and charm of Pursuit lie rather in being pursued exactly by that cinema, and in the long end by the entire American cinema (the starkest vision of the absolute American pursuit – and in its time already worldwide and spatial renown – isn’t perhaps Kubrick’s 2001? The show, if ever there was one, is already over. In the sense of accomplished. The image, it is well known, even when it consists of a blinding light and a haunting memory of having been conspicuously absent (that is, neither a memory of ours, nor of he who shot the photo), amounts to a certification of authenticity, a stamp, a seal. Hollywood’s imagery and space meant a prodigious stamp on a fatal bubble. Photography can only manage to find remnants and relics of a ‘been there again’ without having ever been there. Pursuit knows or feels to be pursued by the unhappy pursuit of happiness, burnt out, anticipated, persecuted by a light which is forever ‘artificial’ (Weegee teach us that) when it attempts to photograph itself, but only indoors and on the bodies lighted by the milky glare of TV sets and open functioning fridges. The film (a spatial sculpture) always in short supply to photograph and photographer (or to me, the narrator), is that entity where one can see the impossible self-timer (the last thing to bewitch me at 15), before cutting short the photographic bulimia, was indeed the self timer, with the frantic run to your appointed spot in the group, always 1/125th or 1/500th of a second late, ending up posed like a goof, and inevitably out of focus on account of your gasping breath) of someone who has the perception of being already pursued by the image, of being already too late (the suddenly alternating out of focus instants and derisive postural monuments), of its essence of lateness. Yet he might as well get there, but there is nothing and nobody and he doesn’t see himself, unless in the outdoors or indoors projection room, empty and full of specters looking at each other, he doesn’t notice himself.