Friday, May 23, 2008


Passages has packed all of its possessions into a spotted kerchief, knotted, and tied to a stick, and setting off for pastures anew. is proving an inhopsitable host.  And so, Passages has found a new home, HERE … drop in if you’re passssing …
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Saturday, May 17, 2008


Those eyes, that blue orb.  The Madonna with the Globe, as she might be known, inhabits a grotto at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.  A remarkable tableau in the city fabric, tucked away in a courtyard.  She has long fascinated me, and I wanted to photograph her, yet she has been globeless for quite a long period, unearthly, her hands held up in anticipation, her eyes imploring.   Perhaps God had wanted the world back for a bit, some amendments, a bit of editing.  And now, this heavenly earth has returned, Aotearoa New Zealand et alia, are gorgeously delineated with golden beaches.  The ocean is the most remarkable blue, a cerulean sea.  Ne plus ultramarine….

Madonna with the Globe, Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Christchurch, May 2008

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Friday, May 9, 2008

Reflective Infinity, Cockatoo Island, Sydney, April 2008, JB

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Infinity is a necessary frustration.  It also is immensely terrifying.  Particularly that point where eternity and infinity intersect, some kind of swirling maelstrom perhaps, or maybe a moment of incredible stasis, silence, somnolence,  where Pascal can be barely heard, “When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed up in the eternity before and after, the little space which I fill and even can see, engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces of which I am ignorant and which know me not, I am frightened and am astonished at being here rather than there; for there is no reason why here rather than there, why now rather than then. Who has put me here? By whose wonder and direction have this place and time been allotted to me? The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me.” 
So what happens when something is completed, something that had been considered infinite reaches, for a moment, a point of finitude.  It is like unrequited love becoming requited, and thence a source of disillusionment.  Better not to reach that point, but to remain in that state of becoming, in all senses of the word.  But that stage of  finishing a sizable project, sending it out into the world, and being left with nothing but a void, yawning, gaping, aching, awaiting something to rush in, swirl in and take its place.  To restore infinity.  

Infinity Culvert, Halswell (that ends well), May 2008, JB


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Sunday, May 4, 2008


Quiet days as autumn segues away into winter.  A weekend storm.  A certain light.  The chill in the air.  Another time unfurls.  Two times.  Long ago, a film, Diva.  The scene: a spare apartment, in the centre of which sits a bath tub.  The rest of the film fades, apart from the magnificent aria from La Wally, yet this mise-en-scene remains.  And then, not long ago, arriving in New York.  Late night arrival, delayed, plane ‘broken’.  2:00 am.  Crisp air.  Fall.  Delivered to the odd urban square, very much as it had been described: the clock, the concrete seats, the planters.  And there sitting amongst it, the square’s describer, smoking, staring at the night sky.   Talking into the night, tea, wine, exchanges of gifts, sitting in the kitchen.  The only room in the apartment which is not a bedroom.  Through tired eyes the sculptural form of a bathtub looms in the shadows at the side of the kitchen.  Then he fills it - ’this is for you’.  Out of my head, into a film, bathing, the sound of Manhattan swirling.  Drifting.   Days later the odd urban square becomes a lounge, a retreat.  Sitting, reading, Twilight of Love.  Robert Dessaix’s tale of travelling in search of Turgenev.  ‘Are you okay?’  - a stranger.  Tears are flowing, unbeknownst.  For the book?  For this exile in the urban square?  For faraway, so close, in time, in space …

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Thursday, May 1, 2008


Art sometimes lurks in the most unexpected places, appearing as readymades, already existing works of art.  The recent attack on the spy facilities at Waihopai in Marlborough  (aka ‘Spy Valley’) created a massive sculpture of grace and elegance.  The draping form of the deflated sphere – the balloon-like prophylactic cover for the satellite dish – is at once a Christo sculpture, with its folding and shadows evocative of his wrapped Reichstag, Running Fence …

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Sunday, April 27, 2008


TB Macaulay, the 19th century poet, historian and politician, described a future where a ‘New Zealander’ (i.e. a Maori),  a visitor from an Arcadian paradise, would witness London in ruins.  In 1840 he wrote of imagining the melancholy day when “some traveller from New Zealand shall in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.”  Gustave Doré made an engraving called The New Zealander in 1873, which appears to illustrate Macaulay’s vision.  The ‘wizard-like’ figure, the New Zealander in his cloak, holds a sketchbook, and is drawing the ruins of St Paul’s.  This seems an intriguing inversion of the tradition of death in paradise, a convention expressed in 19th century images of explorers in the New World, where images of death – skulls, coffins, and such – are shown amidst the untrammelled Arcadian landscapes. 


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Over stubble-field and path
A black silence lurks in fear
Purest sky amid the branches
Only the brook runs silent and still

Fish and game soon slip away
Blue soul, darksome wandering
Soon severed us from loved ones, others.
Evening alters sense and image

From George Trakl’s Autumn Soul

Across the Valley, Christchurch, April 2008

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Saturday, April 26, 2008


“There is a secret bond between slowness and memory, between speed and forgetting. Consider this utterly commonplace situation: a man is walking down the street. At a certain moment, he tries to recall something, but the recollection escapes him. Automatically, he slows down. Meanwhile, a person who wants to forget a disagreeable incident he has just lived through starts unconsciously to speed up his pace, as if he were trying to distance himself from a thing still too close to him in time.

In existential mathematics, that experience takes the form of two basic equations: the degree of slowness is directly proportional to the intensity of memory; the degree of speed is directly proportional to the intensity of forgetting.”
Milan Kundera, Slowness (1995)

Cockatoo Island, Sydney, April 2008, jb

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Sunday, April 20, 2008


Sitting at this desk, far away in other lands, it is easy to drift.  The eye traces over the unfamiliar terrain, a vast apartment, tidy, clean, and spare.  Xavier de Maistre is here, recounting the Voyage around my Room.  He’d been kept in his room for 42 days as a punishment for duelling, and during this time carefully negotiated all of the domestic topography that surrounded him.  Everything is carefully plotted, a whole chapter on the folds of his coat, a circumnavigation of his writing desk, his chair, his bed, and to his library which is beyond compare as uncharted terrain, “Cook’s voyages, and the observations of his travelling companions, doctors Banks and Solander, are nothing compared to my adventures in this single region.”  And at one stage he peeks out the window, beholding the vastness of the night sky above, the empyrean sublimity.  Looking up, I notice that right here on the ceiling is a planetary system, the water planets of sprinklers, the vast planetary bodies of light, some with rings around them, others attended by small moons of their own … an entire universe of infrastructure.

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