Friday, May 11, 2012
1926, Gloeden, Taormina. Five years before his death, Wilhelm von Gloeden signed this photograph. The buyer probably asked for this signature. He (or she ?) considered this photograph as a work of art, as a unique picture, as precious as a painting by a famous artist. And von Gloeden was willing to sign the prints of his photographs, in order to provide them with their uniqueness, with the special quality of a unique artifact.
Photography is a mechanical and an industrial art, allowing the reproduction of many copies of a single image, according to Walter Benjamin's famous statement. But a photograph is also a unique artifact, through the way it was printed, through its patina, through the chemical processes that fix light and shades in an unpredictable way.
This photograph is 86 years old. This blossoming boy is most likely ashes and dust in the Taormina's cemetery.
Through this photograph, however, this Taormina boy is young forever, he is a blossoming boy, as the flowers and leaves surrounding him.
I find in this photograph a Von Gloeden's trademark... a unique way to displaying the beauty of a young man and to concealing the focus of his mind, of his gaze, of his soul...
This photograph was conceived to inspire love and desire. In 2012, this photograph still inspires them. Love and desire.
But I don't know what I love and desire the most... The sensual display of an ephebe's body... Or the mystical focus of a gaze and a soul...