Carlo Rocchi Bilancini

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Floating in Her Eyes

Umbria, olive trees, the Middle Ages, the door of the dead, Giotto in the landscape, Jacopone falling in love, the rose windows of austere churches. Todi is the town with the highest quality of life in the world – hence the swarms of Romans, Americans, British, Germans, Australians, Milanese, retired Ambassadors, Balinese, Artists, Musicians and Photographers, all of them buying farmhouses there.

Stones restored with yellow mortar, small wooden beams placed under brown joists. Porches, candlelit dinners, roast sausages, free-range chickens on a spit, salted ham and saltless bread. Fragrant oil, pecorino cheese with honey, Grechetto white and Montefalco red wines. And outside, in the country, farmhouses and towers, vineyards, fields of broad beans. Flying over this bountiful nature, amid rose bushes and hydrangeas, the Queen of this paradise makes her appearance.

She has reproduced herself, multiplied and spread across the area. She is the mistress of desire, attainment, satisfaction, carnality and happiness. The eyes of the Queen are blue or turquoise, round or kidney-shaped, oblong or square. They close in October and open in June, her long lashes brushed by colourful petunias and sweet-smelling bay, sage and lavender. She is the Swimming Pool. She gazes at us, waits, winks, smiles, criticizes and sympathizes with us. She desires, captivates, gives joy and amuses, but do not dare disobey her… exile would be preferable to this. In her the body comes to life, the psyche lights up, and self-esteem reaches its climax. Diving brings out one’s courage.

Personally, I wish to state my envy, since I do not have a swimming pool and would like one. A warm one in the winter, by my bed. I would like to bathe all year round and, in the summer, strew the turquoise water with dahlias, asters, and the petals of freshly blooming roses. I would like to place lotus leaves with flickering tea-lights on the water and crystal glasses next to big brimming ice bowls for champagne and sweet Moscato wine.

It is in this setting that Carlo Rocchi Bilancini has photographed his characters by plunging them – fully clothed – in the azure liquid, enhancing them with geometries, the movement of fabrics, and part shy, part shameless smiles. These men and women seen from above glimmer with reflected light, their characteristics revealed.

It would be nice if Carlo Rocchi Bilancini could photograph all the inhabitants of Todi in the water: in wells, in the Tiber, in those extraordinary underground passageways created by the Romans for the collection of public water. But for the time being, I will be happy to gaze at these first pictures, waiting for others to complete the portrait of a whole, real town underwater.

Antonia Mulas

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