It all started with a dream, a collection of fears, and a few questions. A dream of a nude woman walking inside a bookstore on a rainy night, leafing through books damaged by rain.
The bookstore had no roof, the woman looked lost, and the rain was turning all the pages into mush. The fears and questions were part of a private collection of disappointments and anxieties: What is the role of Beauty in the Era of Unrest? Does Beauty still matter?
The Bookstore actually exists in real “life” – I think. It could be anywhere, but it happens to be located in an old factory in Massachusetts. What a better metaphor for the dying print than an old American factory? A friend, once involved in a major publishing house in New York City, opened the place several years ago. The books are everywhere, alive, hidden, scattered, piled up, shelved. A cemetery of stories in which I spent three years shooting nudes.
One could look at “The Bookstore Project” in so many ways. My focus on women and books came into existence in a similar way Matisse’s nudes grew out of the relative safety of the French Riviera while the world was burning nearby. I came back to photography after years of painting and working with mixed media. I came back to photography from physical discomfort. For almost a year, I suffered from an excruciating chronic pain that refused to obey any treatment. I had trouble walking. It felt easier to spend my time in front of my laptop editing photographs than standing in front my easel. It felt easier to project my physical pain against the energy, the exuberance, and the confidence of the people with whom I collaborated. Subconsciously, I needed a cure. Lawrence Durrell once said that “there are only three things to be done with a woman. You could love her, suffer for her, or turn her into literature.” How limiting. Since childhood, books and women have represented a sure access to the Sublime and the Ultimate Mystery to me. I hold a humanistic view of the world; this could, at times, be at odds with the post-modern, post-everything era we live in now. Leonard Cohen talks somewhere about the inner miracle within every body, and about the sacredness of the body’s existence – a concept some might say, would have been more suitable for a conversation among Renaissance artists and philosophers. Who cares about all that today? Our new century shows signs of rust. I wish we would be able to see better and have the courage to hold the mirrors in front of all our failures and denials. Our bodies are not sacred anymore. We replaced religion with technology and our bodies got lost in the process. Our collective eye lost its connection with the Cosmic Eye.
My physical pain is almost gone. America has elected a President who rates women based on the size of their chests. Fewer and fewer people read these days. Humanism is dead. Yet, I choose to believe that in times like these, beauty is a form of intelligence that could be as political as a loud slogan.
About Florin Ion Firimitã
I am originally from Romania, where I studied studio painting. In 1990 I moved to the United States. Since then, I focused on mixed media and photography and participated in 300 exhibits. My work is in private and corporate collections in France, Australia, and the United States. My art has been the subject of a film, “The Art of Leaving,” directed by Brian Kamerzel. The film has been featured in seven international film festivals; most recently it was screened at Steven Spielberg’s Egyptian Theater in Hollywood and at Montreal’s Festival International du Film sur L’Art. [Official Website]
“The Bookstore Project – 100 Nudes” is currently on display at the “Bing Center for the Arts” in Springfield, Massachusetts until January 7, 2017. It will travel to Troy, New York, and Paris in 2017.