Morello, In the Beginning

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Paolo Morello, In the beginning, 24 x 24 cm, 96 pages, 80 tritone plates with varnish, hardback, English edition. Momentarily out of stock; expected reprint: September 2020.

«Thus, in the beginning was chaos», writes Hesiod in the Theogony. For a Greek from the eighth century BC, chaos meant abyss: the chasm yawning from the surface down to the depths of Origin. Chaos, the primordial void, is first and foremost an absence: it is an absence of matter and form, but it is also darkness, an absence of light. Yet it is capable of creating its opposites. Even as a figure of void, it can transform itself into a symbol of overflowing plenitude. Just as the Earth falls away at the mouths of volcanoes, from these same chasms comes forth magma, and it is from this outpouring that the Earth is formed.

Moreover, myths of creation can be read as a representation of the emergence of consciousness. Behind the image of the Earth rising up from the depths of the ocean, or of Man taking form out of clay, Man’s becoming aware of himself, of the cosmos, and of creation, is revealed. Even the gradual appropriation of thick undergrowth, the retrieval of land from a tangle of plants, and unearthing, ploughing, and cultivation, are all representations of the arduous wearing away by the consciousness of all that is instinctual, compulsive, and irrational – or rather natural – in the darkest recesses of the unconscious psyche. Every cosmogony thus represents an e€ort to widen the boundaries of the field of consciousness. Exterior reality is created and exists as it comes to the surface of awareness.

The crucial theme of these photographs is therefore consciousness. Photography helps to show the dual nature of art better than any other type of representation. On the one hand, it produces new myths. It nourishes the universe of the imaginal, o€ering new material for analysis. On the other hand, photography itself constitutes an instrument of analysis. It compels us to reflect upon the contingent reality which appears before the lens, but also forces the photographer to continually question the meaning of seeing. Every new photograph helps us to extend our awareness of the world but also forces us to become conscious of our being-as-capable of consciousness.