Il Cuore del Marasma
by Agata Polizzi
“E poiché nulla è sciolto da cause o legami, nulla è isola, né quella astratta d’Utopia né quella felice del Tesoro, nella viva necessità che l’assalì di viaggiare, uscire da quel confine estremo, da quella stasi ammaliante, poteva muovere verso oriente, verso il luogo tremendo del disastro, il cuore del marasma empedocleo in cui s’erano sciolti e persi i nomi antichi e chiari di città, castelli, muovere verso la natura, l’esistenza “ Vincenzo Consolo, L’olivo e L’olivastro
A young American woman observes places that for her are full of the infinite – places that, through her eyes, appear rich with history, of power and myth. She, who arrives from a younger culture and landscape, takes this experience directly to that place which Vincenzo Consolo calls ‘the heart of chaos,’ – the layered and complex Sicilian land. She observes that landscape filtered through a clear gaze, with both an acute sensibility and a respect derived from a lively fascination.
In Passages, Midge Wattles (n. 1990) offers her narration of the Sicilian landscape, pausing on the small details that become destinations, immersed in the power of a flooding light – a stone becomes a monument, a generous landscape emits its own circular history over time. Her gaze holds a rare horizon able to escape the noise of civilization, finding itself alone to contemplate the journey’s trajectory, changing the proximity and vantage point as needed. The Scala dei Turchi, Gibellina Vecchia, and Pantelleria are some of the places she observes, where she makes photographs as margin notes, micro-stories that convey a sensitivity of approach and thought, as well as a lexical sensitivity.
Midge’s photographs mix the snow-like purity of the observer with the vigor of the observed landscape – a landscape that erupts and renews itself time and time again. Her gaze puts objects, surfaces, textures, sensations, and traces in relationship to each other, offering a spiritual, almost Apollonian, aesthetically harmonious interpretation.
Midge’s lens elevates the particular, maybe finding there a place of comfort to manage the immensity of something one can only slowly learn to understand. It’s not easy to enter worlds one doesn’t belong to – to do so requires time, curiosity. Midge understands this and has allowed herself enough time to lose herself in discovering a world different than her own and within which she has created a new intimate dimension. Passages is a selection of eighteen photographs, arranged in sequence or as individual shots, as though they were stages of a study on a territory. Her intense and luminous images are accompanied by a meticulous and elegant layout. The intention is to try to gather the unshakeable myth of this island, to try to allow oneself to be crossed by the intoxicating feeling of belonging to something universal.
Midge aims to give order and color to something that appears infinitely large. She goes about it without a rational plan but rather with the desire to know and a sincere interest in this complex and layered landscape. In doing so, she crosses the boundaries between that which is defined, and that which is shapeless, transparent, brilliant.
Perhaps it is her disposition towards receiving and restoring the beauty that arises from the visual suggestion of transcendent realms that renders her work powerful and light, dry, and yet evocative enough to permit those who view it to visualize the invisible.