In an interview with John Reardon Richard Wentworth is talking about some stacks of tiles he saw leaning against poles when driving in France. “The mutual leaning had a wonderful sense of intention, a wonderful repetition.” When he returned to photograph these stacks he was disappointed and frustrated that tiles had fallen over. They weren’t the same “…they had lost that decisiveness.” “They’d lost their visual weight, which was partially the power of the leaning, with the pole coming out of the top. I love leaning, a sort of purposeful repose.”
(Richard Wentworth in Mollin, David & Reardon, John ed. (2009) ‘Ch-ch-ch-changes: artists talk about teaching.’ Ridinghouse (p361)
This is now firmly in the top ten. What a joy of a movie visually. I find Antonioni’s use of colour extraordinary. Yes I can see the comparisons with Morandi, especially in the title series and with Tapies. The fact that Antonioni has also painted the landscape to enhance the colour in certain scenes is incredible. I understand that some of the trees and landscape were painted black to enhance the contrast with Giuliana’s (Monica Vitti) green coat.
The rust and the reds against the grey industrial landscape stand out with such boldness and strength, it is like someone has dragged a paintbrush across the screen. The pipes and steam of the factories merge in with the fog, surfaces, polluted riverways and ships that churn past add to the tension of the narrative if not the mental confusion of Giulana.
I want to watch it again. I want to paint it. He is an artist that has closely observed the industrialisation the ‘bigger machine’ of late 20thC Italy. He has found a rich and vivid beauty in a desolated brutal landscape.
The yellow smoke lingers on at the end.
In the book Barbed Wire: An Ecology of Modernity (Wesleyan University Press 2004) Reviel Netz has written a history of barbed wire from its agricultural beginnings in the late 19th Century America to its military and political uses in the late 20th Century. I havent had the chance as yet to read this book but have enjoyed the interview with Netz in Cabinet Magazine issue 22.
I have been noticing barbed wire, it is used on some of the fences that have been erected around the olympic site. Fences that cut across through routes. Obstructions. The structures of ownership control and fear. How space is divided, secured, occupied and owned is something that I keep coming back to and it is probably a response to being a city where space is scarce.