“Venice, I saw you now you can die”
Purple and pocket-sized, Desired Landscapes looks like the kind of city guide that might come free with your hotel room. What’s inside is more poetic: one piece, for example, is entitled “Venice, I saw you now you can die.” A love letter to the city written from the point of view of the rejected lover, it is divided, very dramatically, into five sections: water, earth, darkness, fire, air. A couple of representative lines: “I thought about leaving you many times before finally doing it… Can a lion ever be happy if it’s incapable of roaring?”.
Reading a travel magazine when it is inadvisable to leave your own home might seem like an act of self harm. But Desired Landscapes takes such a strange, refracted look at city life, it doesn’t feel painful to read. While the writing can occasionally get a little verbose, the artwork is exquisite. Photos of Mexico City are so close-cropped they look abstract: we see just a slither of a swimming pool; the art deco detailing on a door; an empty square.
The best feature is a beautiful series of still lives, based around different snatches of New York sidewalk. Mixing fantasy with reality, in one shot, titled ‘Central Harlem, Lennox Terrace’, a discarded pile of pink fiberglass is collaged over a picture of a waterfall. Originally intended as a comment on gentrification, each street scene is deserted, making the images eerily resonant of today’s locked down New York.