Nocturnes is an elaborately designed book that harmonizes a series of stunning black-and-white photographs with a series of eloquent poems. Each poem, printed on a sheet of vellum, serves as a portal to related, mysterious photographs. True meaning only exists deep down in the observer’s reservoir of nostalgia, the place where we all want to go swim at night, an unpredictable dreamscape where figures and objects pose as symbols of one’s experience. The rhythmic juxtaposition between word and image is like a tango — complimentary partners creating a new, unique excitement. The photographs were made by internationally-known photographer Josephine Sacabo. The poems were written by Dalt Wonk.
The book opens with a poem titled, “The Moon,” which laments for this glowing satellite: “doomed to perpetual return, like the oceans, who grieve on her white marble steps.” And ends, wondering: “What draws you to us, angel of evil tidings, bearing the scent of the eternal, whom you flee, like a migratory bird fleeing the death of summer?” Turn the vellum page and you encounter, a woman’s figure writhing in the moon. She is someone, a memory taking form.
Sacabo continues to take us on a transcendental journey throughout ruins, moonlit ponds and clandestine meetings. These images become the observer’s personal allegory, evoking Gaston Bachelard’s “Water and Dreams” wherein elements of our interior life take on an otherworldly ambiance. Nocturnes recalls the wind-swept paintings of J.W. Turner and the decadent Neoclassical style of Gustave Moreau.
Another poem titled “Sleep,” addresses the flow of consciousness into darkness and the dream world.
In the poem “For Chopin,” time and space seem to float in juxtaposition:
Time pauses before the web
your seanced fingers spin,
glistening and so delicately attached
to anything solid, it consoles like perfume
or a half-remembered kiss or smoke,
when its white silk pools in the hearth,
unwilling to renounce the tainted pleasure
of a sacrifice whose child is radiance.
Never has the geometry
of opposites slipped so pensively
from now to now. This grieved mirage
you coax from twilight
descends like the hesitant pilgrimage
downward of a leaf.
Three photographs of light on a mirror gradually merge, articulating the beauty of the single memento mori that one left behind.
Once again Josephine Sacabo evokes the notion of transcendence that touches the erotic, sensual and mystical depths of consciousness. Her collaboration with poet and husband, Dalt Wonk, creates an alluring push-and-pull feel that moves one between longing and desire. Like the offerings seen in the last image, we can only expect more from this visionary photographer.
Jill Conner, NYC, 2012