Photographs from Siberia by Gert Jochems

He goes to Siberia.
With a camera.
He has the disease of the distance.
When he returns his pictures leave me hot and cold.
He comes again and again.
Perhaps I understand why: He is lost.
Even then, and then, his pictures leave me cold and hot.
I do not want to go to Siberia, I want to go to his pictures.
My condition is on paper.
Why he goes there, I ask him.
What he was looking for. He looks at his speechless Siberia.
His photos raise the same question to him: why he wants to see what he does.
It is abandoned, it is difficult inhabited.
How impotent is the occupant of the desolation.
He sees the terrible, powerful poetry thereof.
He do not know if that is allowed.
He photographs his distance and his desire.
He is gracious.
Grace is in the details.
Details are merciless.
He is a detail.
His own loneliness disappears in the desert.
Maybe therefore he goes.
To disappear.
To come back and show us his disappearance.
Self Portrait as Siberia.
Siberia is impossible to photograph.
He knows that.
He himself was impossible to photograph.
Perhaps that is what moves him.
To search the impossible self portrait.
As a ghost area.
Phantom Zone full of shadows.
Afterimage of a presence.
Every movement seems to be a deliverance.
Each movement seems vain.
Cold and warm.
Maybe he sees in the grayness and ruthlessness, in that
infinite, inhuman, incomprehensible landscape a homeland.
Far behind everything and patiently among the people and things,

Rilke said, is a homeland.

His Siberia comes close.
A dream landscape into a vacuous reality.
He looks until it sings.
A beautiful elegy in his eyes.
Does it sing if he is not looking?
No, then it is not heard.
He would also like to photograph it when he is gone.
In the speechlessness.
Siberia is impossible to photograph.
He knows that and it moves him.
The landscape of hopelessness.
to bring it in sight.
The banishment of the immeasurable.
There is no end, no way out.
Immunity in three dimensions.
The snow fourth.
The elusive as decor.
There is no drama, it only lasts.
He thinks he’s in Siberia to photograph time.
The toneless drama of the time.
The dramaturgy of an absent and ever present landscape.
Then there are people in the scene.
They live there, they are at home.
He’s on his way in their homeland.
He looks at how they live in the inhospitality that surrounds him,
and when moisture penetrates into him.
Sometimes he goes in their homes, embarrass places in the hopeless.
There plays the drama.
The hopelessness has different contours, shadows and movement.
Then he stands outside again.
As always.
He is an outsider.
Where does someone still stand when outside the immense actual state?
Is he still someone?
It is a impossible point of view.
Yet he is moving again.
It is the only way.
It is impossible to make Siberia visible.
He knows that.
There is only one possibility: to photograph his own Siberia.
Therefore, probably, he moves again.
And he comes back to show us his movements in his Siberia.
The magic of the motionless.
The mermaids song and the lie of the distance. In the snow, the desolation, the troublesome habitability, in the cold and warmth of himself as an unknowable homeland.

The text is written by the author / poet Bernard Dewulf, 2005.

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