Atmen, du unsichtbares Gedicht!
Never will enough be said. Never will you write enough about us. When you write about us, and write as of a class of types crossed by plausible rarities and excellence welcomed by method, you are yourselves somehow obsessive, paranoid, cyclothymic and all of those things that match so badly the normative ideal of the motto “nomina sunt consequentia rerum”. It might depend on your professionalism, on your handling the periodic clouds of certain heads, on your stepping into certain grazing depths. Either way you will always stand on the other side of the wound.
I didn’t get to know him by peering through a keyhole, nor through a door half-open. Nor was he a guest at
an artists dinner. I got to know him the summer that disfigured crops and transformed the shopping centres into places of clumsy and necessitated social relations. I got to know Rocchi without him noticing. Undoubtedly, I can claim I know Ermanno Rocchi. Well beyond the frail figure and the man who missed his chance. The quiet but tuneful voice, almost like that of a child reciting poetry, recalculating to himself. He can always be caught in the act of crossing, passing through, going to the other side, never is he in front of you, leading the way. Sometimes he appears to get off from a worldly platform in order to climb onto one of his own, invisible to all. By doing
so he manages, no doubt, to at least illuminate the possible existence of an elsewhere. One day he’ll end up rousing suspicions regarding the existence of other worlds. I don’t think it true he’s closed to the world. However, he certainly has no intention of opening up to the world.
Not in the way you would understand a hatching-out in stages, passing through the series of birth, weaning, experience, maturity. All in a uni-linear perspective, progressing in one single arrow shot. His is a parting in two, a gaping, a cracking. The shadow stays, a shadowy wire in the middle, drawing a line between the two halves. We however, either stay or leave. He achieves staying and leaving in one gesture. It’s like a bridge, he himself is a bridge. But a moving bridge is impossible, as Kafka taught us. Still you get the impression, even just in a glimpse, of walking over him, of his available back, of the support of his hands, the freedom of his feet, the spatiality of his gaze. All directions. Then comes the smell of the hunted animal which Rocchi spreads in his crossing motions. There is a timepiece seriousness to his comings and goings to and from the workshop, transformed into a painter’s studio. He’s often burdened with rods and wooden planks that precede and postpone his journey. But no one has to dodge his steps. As on winged sandals Rocchi moves doodling, making up routes through the traffic of vehicles and bicycles, tracing his wound of existence, searching for existence.
He who has the chance to penetrate the workshop space – that which has now completely become the studio and bedroom of ghosts – sees all around the signs of detachment. The picture-frames are not simply piled up. If they are one on top of the other, not in the corner of the room, but centrally placed and leaning against the walls, it is because he wanted them this way. One could even imagine a countless number of attempts set out like this. The unrelenting search to find miraculous combinations. The resounding victory of an acute angle against the plumb line of a shadow. Like those who search to iron out those inconsistent folds in their shirt cuffs.
From the anemic whiteness of the walls glow meager reflections of edges and corners. There are those who refer to the existence of drawers – finding one open or even slightly so constitutes almost a moment of dizziness - or those who live in a house because it is protected by cellars, the cellars tracing out faithfully in smaller scale the whole arrangement of the domestic spaces. And there are those who build houses in name of a love for stairs and handrails. But rare is the man who raises all of his perceptions to the altar of picture-frames. Thinking about Rocchi in his youth, ocean eyed, letting in that image of Bruno Ganz, who in the film The American Friend throws together a picture-frame and ends up trapped within it; a trap which rather than cutting the victim, saves him.
I remember now a child, a few years younger than me. One of the few to play with Rocchi, on those afternoons in which the air grew more dense and the mist was an invitation to penetrate that thickness of autumn and nothingness. I saw them unfurl sheets of paper. They cleaned their hands every time they touched their surfaces. They grabbed the sheets as if they were holding dandelions. Such delicate treatment wasn’t however appreciated: the paper rebelled, and turned back into it’s cylindrical form, hissing. Given that the mastery of rolling the sheets of paper was not a success the two settled on making folds. The sheets became subject to just one pleat and were left to twirl in the wind, battering rhythmically against the ground. This vision returned to my mind that once when Rocchi directly invited me into his studio. It was as if he had placed in my hand his obscure will. It was a moment that signaled a direction in my existence. A direction by deviation. A soft cut, a taglio morbido.
Everything is so empty, out there. And light. One is almost pushed to love the surfaces and to abandon the depth of the cave and the cold Platonic heights. We however, carry the life of the eye in a fold, that waits to be unturned. We should perhaps refer to Ermanno, oracle of the folds.
Pier Marco Turchetti, 2010 (translation from the Italian by Assunta Ruocco and Rachel Gibson)