Monday, 19 September 2011


I have put a postcard in front of me which is strange and interesting; my friend the painter E said it was disturbing...I don't find it so, but maybe I should. It has also been put on the cover of the catalogue of the Oceania exhibition at the City Art Gallery, where it is on exhibit and there is no print over it at all. It is unblemished. I have bought the book and am very pleased; the quality of the reproductions is great, though the text as usual is vapid.

The photo represents a man who is unmistakeably from a Pacific Ocean nation, just his face, with closed eyes, in a black setting - it is a photo, I keep forgetting to say that - and we are seeing the face from straight above. She must have stood above him to take it. His face is clearly defined against a very dark background and there is no sign of his neck below his chin or of hair on the top of his head. He is cleanshaven and his skin is a rich brown.
His eyes are closed and in his mouth he is holding a perfectly white, shiny shell which has the shape of a fleshy mouth, with a slender opening like a smile. It is a sea-shell. The size of the shell and his mouth seem to correspond well. The sea shell - is it what they call a conch? a conch sounds like a very big shell and so big it is not. His mouth is not a big mouth. One can see the stretched lower lip holding the shell and the lip above. There seems to be some effort involved in holding it in his mouth.
From the shell, a brown plaited silken rope which is attached to it at one corner has been draped close to the side of his head and leads to his forehead where it lies in a flat coil, in the middle, above his eyebrows. He has a flat fleshy nose and his eyebrows are wide.
Light comes from one side of his face, highlighting the top of his cheeks, unevenly. Also the top of his nose - it is not a ridge as such, more like a broad hill. His skin is a little grainy.
I find it a deeply satisfying photo and I must remember the name of the photographer: she is Sofia Tekela-Smith.
I am a fan.
You can see the photo here.

For the rest, I am in love with Proust.

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