FIJI AiR Lancaster Press 2023
I came to Fiji with the idea of developing a group of portraits of contemporary Fijian artists. Organizing those meetings was a challenge as I was not familiar with the geography and urban shape of Viti Levu. The cities and village names were all strange to my ears. Was Rewa a neighborhood near Suva or a satellite village? A little hard to settle a proper map in my mind. Even though if the concepts of location and distance were vague and the bus timetables difficult for me to find and to navigate, I opted for the public transport to move around. It turned out to be the best way to discover a little more of the island and its people and to create a series about traveling by bus.
From my arrival to Fiji my eyes were shocked by the vibrancy of the colors, an outburst of greenery, textures, multicolor outfits and gentle chaos. The bus experiences spilled into other senses. In the olfactory department, oil fumes, a profusion of motor vehicle smoke, human perfumes of all sorts, pleasant maritime breezes and green smells. The auditory adventure was a friendly mix of Indian romantic pop and light south pacific reggae at a volume level that challenged my eardrums while nobody around me seemed to notice or to be annoyed by it.
Viti Levu is a great mixture of urban and rural areas twisted together. The main road system is a single ring around the island piercing through villages and towns. The Queens Road covers the southern coast, Suva to Lautoka while the northern coastal road between those two cities is Kings Road. Everything that moves on four wheels can be seen and smelt on these roads. On a daily basis, 62 bus companies serve at least a quarter of a million people, driving students to school, villagers to markets and everyone to work. The bus stations I passed through were always right next to the markets, everything well placed to move people and goods. Bus travel and circulation in general in Fiji is measured by time, not by kilometers. The lumpy bad conditions and busyness of the road network makes it impossible to move fast, hence movement is simply a matter of time and time in Fiji is very elastic.
Ni sa Bula Vinaka (Welcome and Wishing You Good Help and Happiness).
This project was possible thanks to the support of the DLGSC.
I am no longer there but I don’t belong here – 2022
A plane, a certain year and a certain and predictable direction. My first journey across an ocean. After my flight, the terror of an unknown place, of a language I can barely babble. A taxi, a huge elevator and I arrive at a temporary destination. After months and months underground — stairs. There were as well countless bus trips. There were trips to the airport by motorcycle, travels to the east, by car and by train. There were trips for which I forgot my passport and weekend escapes to a ramshackle house in the European countryside. I travelled streets by bicycle, at night and through the rain. I walked with determination to get to places where no-one was waiting for me. I flew repeatedly over the Atlantic. Kilometers of water and soil under my feet. Intense short footsteps in the Middle East; a short visit to the Country of Jade. I learned to live on foreign soil, to enjoy my confusion and my stranger condition. Yet a time would arrive when I knew I had been a foreigner for too long — I found a place I could call home. Household time-and-space lasted for many years — a snowy mountain background, round trips to new countries, short flights to the west and short flights to the north.
Asking myself non-stop, Is this finally my house? Can I call it home? Is it an act of will to build a home? Is love home? While these questions were arising, the kilometers on my truck’s odometer were increasing but the answers were not appearing. Is home who I love? Is home childhood? Is home my luggage, a few minimum possessions? I try to convince myself. The answers are still not appearing. Habit turns the exotic into common and current. The same journey four, five, seven-days a week is boredom. Kilometers by land, kilometers by air were adding up; the doubts did not stop growing. The questions became more urgent and the landscapes more familiar. All of the sudden — cataclysm. A hurricane, an earthquake, a tremendous shock. Urgent need to depart, to leave everything behind. Torn open. A 14,300-kilometer flight to an island down under, a new ancient world. Sudden but expected. Was it home left behind? Will I find it here? I am no longer there but I don’t belong here. How do I say home in another language? How do I say friend in another language? How do I say idiosyncrasy in another language? The answers are not appearing.
G R E E N – 2021
If we could hear vegetation growing, roots and branches, the resulting sound would be never ending incredible music. Little drops of leaf perspiration, roots digging into the ground, a seed exploding with new growth, sap climbing a tall tree, a bud scratching its way through the soil, leaves inhaling sunshine and expelling oxygen.
Watching at this wonder is equally astonishing.
I am fascinated by vegetation. I became immersed in tropical vegetation in Cairns – Queensland, during an artist residency. The Cairns Botanic Gardens enveloped the residency dwelling, with both greenery and wild life. I became mesmerized by the rainforest. I spent many hours walking the garden. I wanted to document and photograph every texture, tone, shape, and subtle shade of green. The paths along the garden were both sombre and gleaming, the forest was talking to me. The tool I had on hand then was my beloved old analogue camera. This is how I found myself translating the fascinating plant world into black and white.
Unfurling like the palm leaves this book is a tribute to vegetation, nature and green.
Artist book, 21cm x 15