I always think of the town of Rivière du Loup , the last town you encounter in Quebec before you turn into the dark forest of New Brunswick, as a kind of Istanbul, a dividing city between East and West. If you think of my world, like me, in Byzantine terms, then you understand how I can think of Montreal as my Venice, my city of light. Even as a younger man living in the Maritimes, I always felt a sense of emerging when I reached the St-Lawrence. Tell me that memory is not genetic. But I understand that my world is the one I live in, the one I come from geographically, and that the only way I have found to enlarge my horizon was to enlarge it with metaphors, notwithstanding the travels I might have undertaken. There's another dimension to Rivière du Loup that you might not know about, one my sisters and I talk about. This is where the Kerouac family came from before moving to Lowell, Massachusetts. Rivière du Loup is a small town. But I have always felt comfortable there. It's a place that feels like the eye of a needle. You can go anywhere from there. East, West or you can cross the Bosphorus (The St-Lawrence River) on a ferry and find yourself in the Fjords. What do you call those places, that give you the feeling you can see the whole world from there? Rio Lobos. Wolf River.
I was up early this morning so I turned on the computer to a YouTube video by Andrew Graham Dixon on the origins of Venice and Venetian Palazzos. When I started making reference to my large flat in Montreal I was obviously making a reference to Venice. But it had more to do with my sense of living well in a large space and feeling like a wealthy man whether this was true or not. My flat has a rather bohemian feeling to it which many Palazzos have retained or possibly gained over the centuries. I don't have have canals but my windows, and I have window on all four sides, overlook a neighbourhood of Montreal with narrow streets and many back alleys. Those are my canals. But my dining area has a large window and is decorate in mostly orientalist tones and it's where I started thinking of my space as my Palazzo. But to get back to Graham Dixon he explained how the lagoon of Venice had become a hiding place for refugees from Rome and the Northern tribes who sacked it. I'll be politically correct and point out that those so called Barbarians, Celts mostly, had seen their own lands plundered by Rome for centuries. Yeah right, Rome was bringing the civilized world to the savages. Manifest destiny. Anyway the Palazzos of Venice were refuges too. The canals protected them from having to build thick defensive walls, were built with a sense of aesthetics rather than with defensive concerns. My Palazzo, my large flat in Montreal, is where I have evolved, and continue to evolve my sense of living aesthetically but also my refuge from what I perceive to be the growing impossibility of living anywhere else smaller than Montreal.
I'm thinking of changing the name of this blog to 'Notes from the Palazzo'. Or maybe Notes from the Palazzo is just my way of delineating my current photographic work.But before anyone goes running off thinking this is somekind of Covid 19 isolation project, allow me to establish that this body of work started sometime in 2016. I had more or less stopped making reflections shortly after Anne died and everything I did from then on, with very few exceptions, was done here, or originated here, in my flat on Oxford Street in Montreal. It's a huge flat and as I started filling it with furniture and objects that stimulated my imagination, made it my own place, I started calling it my Pallazo, as far back as 2017 I think. Perhaps the solution is for "Notes" to have it's own site, it's own blog. (to be cont'd)