Gothenburg, August 23, 2018
”Only empty space can really hold the future in store”, Roland Barthes once wrote. It doesn’t matter if he writes about fashion, literature, or say photography–it is always a great adventure to read him. Besides, he’s almost always right. But this time, I think he got it wrong. He wasn’t alone of course. A lot of people are still attracted by empty spaces, absolute beginnings, and languages without history.
Most probably, there never has been, and hopefully never will be, such a horrible thing as an empty space. There is always a past, always something that remains. It’s the memories, or traces of what has vanished, that is your point of departure. It is a kind of attentive listening, to a space that whispers, that rejects the very notion of emptiness.
Just because a room is vacant, doesn’t mean that it’s empty. An erased de Kooning isn’t empty, it’s an erased de Kooning. A clear-cut forest isn’t empty either; hidden under ground are pine seeds and fungi–its past and future. There is always something going on. Just because we don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. It just means that we should learn to be more observant, sensitive, and caring in relation to our surroundings.
Now, I’d like to share a poem with you, by the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer. I think it was over 15 years since I last read it. It came to my mind, after our conversation in your beautiful garden. It’s called ”Memories Look at Me”:
A June morning, too soon to wake,
too late to fall asleep again.
I must go out–the greenery is dense
with memories, they follow me with their gaze.
They can’t be seen, they merge completely into
the background, true chameleons.
They are so close that I can hear them breathe
though the birdsong is deafening.
P.S. I think that your works help us to become more observant. In that way, they suggest change, which somehow makes them political ...
Letter from Jens Soneryd to Ute Lindner. 24 August–1 September, 2018. Åplus, Berlin.