Alchemy, by Sarah Moon
”Very often I say to myself: I would like to make a photo where nothing happens. But in order to eliminate, there has to be something to begin with. For nothing to happen, something has to happen first.” – Sarah Moon
When you have higher references and great expectations, most probably you’ll get deluded. It was what happened when I finally visited the Musée d’Histoire Naturelle of Paris, after being welcomed by Barry Flanagan’s big Rabbit at the beautiful gardens of the Museum. It’s a trick: this is not the Alice’s Rabbit by Lewis Carroll, so don’t expect magic because you’re not in wonderland, even if it can make you feel Alice, by the big size of it.
But if you’re now in Paris, go there, say hi to the Rabbit, look at the big whales’ skeletons over your head and put yourself in the big room where you’ll meet Sarah Moon’s “Alchimies”. You will feel inside an empty organised warehouse, with Sarah Moon’s zoo all over the walls, while listening a wonderful sonata for cello and piano by Shostakovich brilliantly played by Keith Jarrett.
We all got used to Sarah Moon’s world: feminine, mysterious, enigmatic, erotic, ingenuous. Blurred, moved, grey and white. Classic beauty to be unveiled by our own minds.
But here there is no Dior girls: only fauna. Embalmed fauna, sometimes almost Buñuelian, creating feelings of real within a dream. Yes, all this to say that her series of photographs seems better than the curatorial work of the museum itself. Another good thing is that her room doesn’t have all those hundreds of unstoppable kids running around like in the rest of the museum.
It’s worth seeing and stop by. Her short film projected there also: A brilliant interpretation of the Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Brave Tin Soldier who falls in love with a ballerina.
“For me, photography is pure fiction,” Moon says, “even if it comes from life. I photograph people, of course, as I do nature – trees, flowers, animals – but I charge it with something other than reality, with feeling, with a certain feeling depending on the day. I compare myself to reportage photographers, who make some sort of statement about life. I don’t believe that I am making any defined statement. Instead, I am expressing something, an echo of the world maybe.”
Yet, she doesn’t seem to live in our real world, and you leave thinking if it wouldn’t be much better the world where she lives in… or maybe we are the ones who are not getting the same echoes as she does: we must be thankful for the alert though.
“For a split second, I see a sparkle of beauty passing by,” she muses. “That instance of grace that I nearly missed, and that will never happen again.”
Other essays you should read:
The Self, the Mirror, our Shadow and its Fear;
How to Cook Humans;
Studies On Light Nudes (NSFW):
The Awakening of the Self;
Pain should never be an excuse, but a tool for you to create with;
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