The Garden (2013 - ongoing)

The Garden is shaped by a series of unrelated events which incidentally intersected over the years. In October 2010, while on a short business trip to Japan, I found myself strolling as an uninformed and ignorant tourist in front of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

With a three hour time window to fill, I stepped in to visit the East Gardens. Coming from one of the last eastern European countries with truly wild and untamed natural landscapes and forests (and fairly ugly man-made parks), I found myself intrigued by the carefully trimmed and manicured lawns, bushes and trees, designed ponds and groves, bridges and winding paths. My passage was brief. I took a few straight photographs as a personal documentary reference and left.
Back in Vienna, the photographs were transferred to my computer’s memory and, within a very short time, the imperial garden from the Edo Castle grounds faded from my own memory.
In 2013, I embarked on a project highly Sisyphean in nature. Travelling on a regular basis from Austria to Italy, two or even three times a month, I began photographing the lights from the tunnels that cross the Alps shared by the two countries. My aim was to produce one day a large composite work using these light lines recorded deep in the guts of the mountains.
A year later I became interested in Asian calligraphy and ink drawing and occasionally I would look forth and back at Japanese photography and at Chinese, Japanese or Korean ink drawings.
The lines photographed in the tunnels from the Alps turned into ‘brush strokes’ and even if I abandoned my initial project, I kept on making the photographs. The technical limitations of capturing the same lights from a car moving at 100 km per hour through a tunnel pushed me to develop my method and improvise in search for different strokes. The gestural and fluid moves of my hands holding the camera became the centre of my endeavour.
In the spring of 2015, while browsing through more than 5000 images recorded in these tunnels, the forgotten Japanese imperial garden resurfaced in mind. Without looking at any of the documentary photographs, I tried to recreate it in form of triptychs from my own photo ‘brush strokes’.
The Garden is now my exercise of memory reconstruction through abstraction, an examination of the creative path itself and a depiction of how thoughts are shaped in mind over time.
The black frame recalls the three hour window I spent in the East Gardens and may obstruct the view, as my own view and understanding of what I was seeing had been obstructed at the time. What is inside each frame is imagined but it is also as real as I can remember it and see it.

© Copyright Alexandra Diaconu.
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