Postcard from Venice
I had meant to write. I have a whole stack of postcards – even a pack I bought at a church that had obviously been taken in the early 1950’s – full of strong jawed gondoliers assertively clutching their oars and gazing over the Grand Canal like the early explorers must have looked out over the Grand Canyon. But, alas, here I am back in NYC and the postcards are still blank.
A week goes quickly. And if one vacations with David there seems to be an endless number of churches – especially in Venice, where there are an endless number of churches. Out early, we would walk all day and into the night, with momentary pauses on benches, in cafes, in churches, museums and trattorias. Not surprising, a lot of time was spent circuitously navigating between benches, cafes, churches, trattorias… One is never exactly lost, but is often unable to achieve the desired destination with any kind of speed or accuracy. In the pauses I had – generally sitting on a pew in one or another of the churches, I would jot down thoughts geared towards a single portrait of the city – but I find the jottings as diverse as the routes we took each day. So uncollated they will remain. Many other impressions are too vague even to jot down and I suppose they will stay or disappear in the random logic of remembrance since I cannot give them form on the page.
A lot of Venice is O’ so scenic and packed with tourists – but like other parts of Italy the tourists seem to stay on the same 3 streets – leaving the rest basically empty. One knows and one gets the feeling even without knowing the fact that not many people actually live in Venice anymore. It is cleaned up. I realized looking at the Prendergast in Italy exhibition at the Guggenheim that something of the essence is no longer. There was a dirtiness of the sort depicted in the Naturalism of 19th century novels that the Carnevale was in opposition to and also celebrated, the economic and class systems which it could briefly supplant. Masks… Lanterns…Lace…Glass… an incandescence which needed night and faded with the day. A Venice like the paintings of Vanity where an shriveled and painted old woman gazes at her young self in the mirror. Present day Venice has had a bit or work done, her skin stretched into something more artificial, less true to either maid or the mask. Continue reading