Van Zoetendaal Publishers

Charlotte Dumas – A TERRA / Charlotte Dumas

Palermo
Countless steps climbed up to the rooftop terrace of an old building in the Ballaró, one of the Medieval quarters of Palermo. The terrace was paved with white tiles and surrounded with a wire-mesh fence. There was a small shed-like construction just large enough to fit a bed, a shower, toilet, and sink. Even inside it felt like I was outside, overlooking the city. This was my home for a few months in the spring of 2006.  
The owner of the house, an animated man with a thin, neat moustache, had a great love for the ballet. Autographed photos and posters of the famous Italian dancer Carla Fracci in the familiar classical repertoire of poses and gestures adorned the walls. He had a dog called Arco, whose doghouse shared my terrace, though I often found Arco sleeping on the kitchen table one floor below.
In the park across the street, a regular pack of stray dogs hung around, lazing in the shade on the warm asphalt and marbled stone pavement. At night I’d hear them barking as they chased passers by.
Over time, I became familiar with these packs of strays, randagi, that each had their own territory in the old parts of town. They roamed around the harbour at the cruise ship terminal and in the street markets, circling the butcher stands that sold offal and pane con milza. At night I’d find them sleeping curled up in cardboard boxes that were left for them. They were part of the intricate fabric of the city. 
At the time, wandering the city, I felt drawn to individual characters. Some of them had names, although nobody knew how they got them. Like the black-and-white TomTom, whose white fur was so saturated with dirt it had turned grey, and Barone, a gentle giant of a dog and a fixture of the Ballaró.
Looking at them now, I’m aware of a repertoire of poses and gestures. In each other’s company, they perform a canine dance of themes and variations, radiating the comradery between them that I experienced being around them.
Still, all these dog bodies lying on ground, the stillness of the round foetal positions they often sleep in, sometimes curled up in niches carved out of the ground as if they were already in a grave, emanate gravity and temporality. They make me think about our mortality and about the space we occupy in regard to others, individually and as humans alongside other sentient beings. About what it means to belong, to a pack and to a species. I feel a sense of longing observing these dogs that together form a collective body, gentle and humble.
Charlotte Dumas
Order book paperback @ €35.00
  • Year 2023
  • Size 18x27 cm
  • Colour FC
  • Binding Japanese/French folded
  • Pages 48
  • Text Charlotte Dumas
  • Concept Dumas/Van Zoetendaal
  • Design Willem van Zoetendaal
  • ISBN 9789072532541
Order book paperback @ €35.00
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