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Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Jigsaw Puzzle of Life

Epehemeris by Benedicte Deramaux is part of the wave of photobooks that wonder at our existence in the world and seek to visually break us down into our constituent parts, maybe as a path to understanding where exactly it is we come from.

There's a quote at the beginning. This time it's from Anais Nin (sorry about the missing accent) and it reads, "We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimenstion, and not in another, unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations."

So the book is a series of layers with black and white, colour, the abstract and the concrete all mixing, not always entirely successfully. It starts with ferns and a hare and a bare-branched tree and goes on to white sheets, cards and a collapsing shed.

A cave, ants feeding on a fly and an anvil follow. So something primal is in the air, something between life and death, something forged. It's life itself and there it is in the clouds, the scan, the moon and the blurred and graininess.

There are rocks and a peach tree and a table with a peach on it. It's a neat and rather too tidy ending to a book that, like the Last Cosmology or Ama Lur (they also have clouds and caves and moons), is a kind of jigsaw puzzle of life with a series of visual clues that invites you to put those pieces together. How you put those pieces together is another matter. I'm not entirely sure I got it right. The life I constructed is probably a cave-dwelling mutant bug-person, all bure-bokeh and Nosferatu nosed. But I did have fun trying. I always have fun trying.

Buy the book here

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