Monday, September 12, 2011

THE BRIGHT SHADOWS OF NATIA APKHAIDZE, by Didier Duprat (translation, Annick Gendre)

Today I would like to greet N. A.. She leaves to Kutaisi, in Georgia. She is 31 years old ─ and I had, I have to say, a very favourite in front of the contained, authentic mystery, of her work. What knocks, at once, in front of the realizations in black and white ─ but the colorized work which she makes, besides, is sometimes treated in tow tones itself ─ it is of course a sense of the centring, the balance, an evident technical ease, but at first and above all the main part, the course of the visible history and the hidden history. We so have to deal with photographers who are so obsessed by – for example – “the decisive moment” precious to Bresson, whom they do not know how to give anymore of sense at the moment, exactly, which they seize. So many photos, shallow, not to say without soul, which are reduced simply to visual exploit, forget the value of a story (not always spectacular, it’s true, which needs to elaborate in the time).
Let us, there, what said the Italian writer, Francesco Biamonti:
“The writing (he spoke about literature, but naturally, it costs for all the forms of writing), it is a shaped emotion.”
At once, it is what we could say about Natia: here is a photographer who tells something. She is a narrator capable of being allowed surprise and to surprise us, of being moved and of moving us, who has the talent (a talent which is also a sacred work!) to shape its feelings without ever firing us by the sleeve of the shirt and to put the finger on what there is allegedly to see. Her photographic work, of a big precision, and we guess it of a great patience, always keeps opened in big the door of the Mystery. In brief, a real happiness.
Then, what says to us Natia? She tells us her Caucasus, a country of mountains, clouds, plains with horses, the smoking nostrils gone up by people, who run for the sky with, as it would be said, the insane hope to reach it. She speaks to us about a country with dogs which, to roam without leash, have the glances deep and worried of being free and responsible for their fate. She describes a country, at the bottom(in fact), which would be hardly a country, an air musing - an imaginary construction? Maybe. Maybe, yes, that Natia dreams a little about her country. She dreams about it, because, after all, it is what we make all and because her country is maybe - go to know - really entirely in this dream.
Thus, in these photos which I suggest you discovering, you will see well and truly a running of man on horseback, you will see the mountains where originate clouds ("Clouds"), you will see some snow and ice. And you will feel, maybe, the solitude and the cold of this woman who advances, only, at night, in a winter road (" Snowy road "). You will also feel, in doubt, the companion of a solitary tree (" Winter tree "), and will try to touch the moon, the unusual and temporary captive of a branch. You will accompany a fisherman (solitary person) in a deserted lake (“Go fishing”, which could be the echo of one of the story in Hemingway or comic in) and, in full city, under a pouring rain, you will expect from an improbable expectation that the rain arrests (" Snowy day ").
Natia Apkaize tell the immovable time of eternal Georgia - Time immovable but fragile as this church of mountain from which the scaffold which supports her seems to seek the protection of human arms ("Gergeti"). Quite naturally, she also tells the confrontation of this ancestral Georgia from current Georgia, Georgia where the time accelerates - so, the stupefaction of a woman taken out quite straight ahead of the rural life and taken in the urban traffic: the car which takes off in front of her is hardly recognizable, it is not even any more a car, it is hardly a concept, a metallic stylization of the modernity (that evokes another photo: " Red car ".)
But these two Georgia, it seems, do not really oppose: they create a constant human, expensive, it seems, to Natia, whatever is the considered period: the solitude considered as an essential condition in the inscription of the man in the humanity. As a door between various visible and secret worlds.
Here is: imperceptibly, we cross with Natia of the chronicle of a country, her Georgia, to an at once universal and intimist chronicle. Let us not wonder. "The universal, it is the premises less walls": the famous sentence of Miguel Torga resounds, here, particularly.
Natia finds in the Caucasus what Torga saw in his Tras-Os-Montes, Joyce in Dublin, Pessoa in Lisbon - and so many other artists in their born environment: an anchorpoint on the globe, which is maybe also a point of intimate exile. We are sometimes never taken away from itself than at home. And, at the same time, it is maybe necessary to go away from itself, to go to the limit of the knowledge which we have of ourselves to find us. In her work, Natia says its visceral attachment in her Georgia, but it seems to me that what she also says is that her authentic homeland is just as much this internal country, ghosted, this country, distant and familiar, in which we meet deported and what we carry in each of us. In its work, Natia says its visceral attachment in its Georgia, but it seems to me that what she also says is that his(her,its) authentic homeland is just as much this internal country, fantômatique, this country, distant and familiar, in which we meet deported and what we carry(wear) in each of us.
« I try to show both sides of human nature or life itself, she says somewhere in an essay for presentation, not only the light but also the dark side. This is why pain, fear, frustration and solitude are often characteristic on my photos. »
That Natia tries hard to show the various faces of the human nature, " light, shadows, with their procession of pain and frustration ", we shall agree to say that it is not the first one to try it. Or, but what she shows - of what she manages to show, according to me, her originality - it is, especially, the magic cohabitation of this duality. Natia brushes with a talented sweetness the bright melancholy of our dark face - it is little as if she whispered us in the ear that our faults, our pains secrete themselves their own light.
How - photodiagrammatically speaking - does she make a success of it? Let us put the hypothesis that her work on the shadows - which is not without reminding Ronis but, maybe more still, this Grand Master of the shadows, Brassaï - is for something there.
They are present - most of the time, discreet. What is the most real, of a pigeon seized by the objective in its flight(theft), its image or its shade(shadow)? A stray dog seems in big discussion - a little distracted - with his(her, its) partner: we would say an old couple, a couple which it forms with its shadow. The shadow at Natia can occasionally invade, dominate the visible world ("Shadow") but, mostly, it is simply the indication of a world doubles, secret, magic, which is just in our door and accompanies us. So, the solitary beings - human or animal - which cross the photos of Natia are alone never definitively. Solar beings to the solitude and the darkness. Have you already seen faces more intense than those of these portraits of Caucasian people?
Sometimes, the shadows fade and this double world appears in the reflections of a screen of TV in which falls a child ("Mirror"). And, in the fragments of this broken virtual mirror, appears another childish face - "Saba" - only photo, ô miracle, devoid of the slightest track of shadow, quite splashed with light.
Here is: would it be, there, the universe of Natia Apkhaidze, the universe of shadows that hopes again and again for the light? Finally not too much, all the same. It is necessary to leave of what to instigate the light of the Mystery. So, Natia, by her clear and impenetrable photo, draws up the loving portrait of a country every living, human, animal, plant or mineral element of which, seems to carry the message of a hope in the shape of parallel life.
We shall not wonder of the fact that the prayer - even heathen - seems a moment of communication with this magic, secret world, about which she speaks to us - this magic world which could nest in the hollow of a bluish mountain - mountain of our origins. 
   Either in the sensualism. Contemplate the beauty of these Georgian women: beautiful, yes - Their glances make us glimpse the mystery of a bigger beauty still, undefinable, which could live in them. Only here is: their eyes - too bad for us! - close as we believe that they are going us to deliver the secret.
Good wind Natia !


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