The Blog of John Walford, British-born, but long resident in The United States. I am an art historian, currently studying satire in Netherlandish art, an amateur photographer, and occasional writer, who writes here about art, photography, and the human condition--some of it ekphratic poetry, responding to works of art. This is to be a site for words and images, interacting on one another, as vehicles of human expression.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Sati Kobashi (of São Paulo, Brazil)'s "Countryside Life"


Countryside Life, originally uploaded by Sati K..

Remember the day when we went to see where GrandPa once lived....
We met an old aunt, or was it your father's aunt, dressed all in black.

Sati Kobashi'e photograph, "Countryside Life," (uploaded to Flickr, Oct 1st, 2007, see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sati_kobashi/1469374905/ ) reminds me of visits to country people in Italy--though Sati's photograph is taken in Brazil.

I am always struck by the unvarnished quality of such countryside farms and domestic settings. There remains in such places, among such people, the rhythms, values, and atmosphere of an era, and a lifestyle, almost forgotten amid the glitz of our contemporary cities. And I wonder, are we really better off? Better provided for, sure! More comfortable, sure! But, at peace? Of that I am not at all sure. I see around me harried people, chasing their agendas from meeting to meeting, to accomplish what--a few more "hard-earned" dollars, to spend on what? Perhaps buying a cottage in the country.

So I wrote a little story of what Sati K.'s photograph evoked for me:

Where GrandPa once Lived:

Remember the day when we went to see where GrandPa once lived....We met an old aunt, or was it your father's aunt, dressed all in black. We came to the door, with the peeling paint, and the slender door frame, shook the little bell that hung to the left, and out she came.

Gesturing, mumbling strange greetings, in a foreign tongue, or was it a country dialect? We understood we were to come in...but not before noticing the tub, set up on a block of concrete, and filled with plants, waiting to be watered, or perhaps soaking, to refresh their parched stems and curling leaves.

The water line was unprotected, and made its ungainly way down the wall, with little thought to how it would strike the eye of the visitor,...just so long as it would deliver water at the right place, over the tub, by the door. it is all so matter-of-fact...just like the labor of tending the soil. No frills, or ceremony, it just IS.

The simple bench, by the water tub, was an annunciation, I thought, for the spartan interior we would soon encounter...but that was not how we found it, once inside....and how was that?...well, we will just have to wait for Sati's photograph, next time she visits.....

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I am a British-born, art historian, teaching in the USA; I studied law, in England,1964-68; worked part-time in the art world, 1968-69; then studied art history at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, 1969-76; completed my Ph.D. diss. at the University of Cambridge, 1981; moved to the States in 1981, and have since written, or co-authored, other books. I am currently studying satire in Netherlandish art. My wife, Maria, was born in Milan, Italy, where she worked as an interpreter, in business; she spent seven years in Switzerland, at the University of Lausanne, 1963-70. She came to Amsterdam in 1971, and we soon married. She is a wife, mother, literary critic, of Italian (and French) literature, and completed her Ph. D. diss. in 2002, at the University of Chicago, on Cesare Pavese and His Critics. We have three married children, and eight grandchildren, all of whom we excessively adore! I welcome dialog about art, photography, human behavior, beliefs, and motivation from all comers, regardless of race, color, gender, orientation, values, or beliefs. This is to be a site for words and images, as vehicles of human expression, around topics of mutual interest.

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