(32) A Rose is not A Rose



In her bedroom, Mrs. Bento put the audio cd A Conversation of Five Photographs into her Wave and sat in front of the desk. Mr. Bento entered the room, closed the door and sat on another chair beside her. Both were waiting uneasily for some unknown conversation stretched before them. Then they heard a woman's giggle, and her attempt to clear her throat.

"Okay, this close-up picture of a single pink rose shot slightly from below seems so banal, that I couldn't help asking myself why, why do I like it so much. Technically there is not much significance, but as I look at it more and more, I feel there's a presence, a spiritual presence, almost like the soul within the flower, showing me her past glory, her resilience, her pride of being. It is as if she's singing a sad and emotional aria of her existence."

"A Rose is not A Rose," a man's voice entered, "An Apple is not An Apple. This is Not A Pipe. They are all interior worlds taking exterior forms."

Woman: "But the figures in Blue Banjo diptych were made up of geometric forms, with found materials feigning biological shapes to appropriate emotions. The picture on the left resembles a person holding a banjo, and singing a love song to his lover on the right."

Man: "Do you remember the Blue Banjo diptych was actually two images from a larger group of cyanotypes? They were variants coming out from the same shooting session. In such a context, when putting these two images back into the group, they might invite very different readings."

Woman: "Oh yes, look at our self-portraits, a kiss is not just a kiss, but the lovely reward of having a contract signed by a client. If I remember correctly, we used three different images from the self-portraits for our company stationery. The Kiss was for the contract, the one I turned away from you was for the invoice, and the very formal, looking straight into the camera one was for account statement…qwe..ee..qwe..ee." At this point a sharp squeaking noise stopped the female speaker.

Man: "Hey, hold on, let's fix this first. Test, test, okay, sounds better now? Okay. Ahem." The male speaker cleared his throat, muted for a moment, and continued. "Representation, appropriation, transformation, fabrication, addition and subtraction. You will need either one, or all of these methods through which to express when doing art."

Woman: ”But documentary photography is straightly recording the moment, it needs not be, or needs it? Well, I haven't forgotten years ago there was this weird suggestion from a collector, who proposed to pay Yau, the photographer of the famous back shot of Two Women, to replicate a frontal shot. A total fabrication, considering the original photograph was taken thirty years ago on the street. Without doubt this collector was canny. He wanted to be the sole legitimate owner of another going-to-be famous shot by the same photographer."

Man: ”Or you can say he was buying into conceptual art, like Duchamp's hand-drawn cheque to his dentist - playing with the concept of value and original. However, Yau did not make the photograph as proposed, but Duchamp did buy back the Tzanck cheque from the Dentist years later."

From that point came a halt. Mrs. Bento paused the audio. She thought for a moment and said, "I did wear cheongsam to go to work in the seventies! Of course it was just an uniform and I was going to the bank to work! Ah...I think I've seen the photograph of the back of the two women in one of the books. They were wearing very tight Cheongsams and walking in the red light district. If I can imagine them swaying their hips left right left right like two beautiful fish, so can men! Certainly I'd like to see the front of the women, if only the photographer had chosen to reshoot the picture…but then, the photograph would certainly be disappointing. Adding thirty years to their faces and bodies is such cruelty. But who knows, if they worked hard enough on maintenance, like Madonna, like Cher, it'll be alright, it'll be alright." Mumbling to herself in the last few words, Mrs. Bento resumed the audio.