The work in the artist’s words
Last Trip to Venice
This following text written by the artist introduces the photographic work he did in Venice in 1985. In that work the artist presents images that reveal moments of private everyday life spent with his wife Christine during a trip to Venice. The journey follows the worsening of her depression. Her future suicide is mentioned, in an atmosphere of expectation, of suspension of feelings. There is an intertwining between narration and image. The photographs quietly write a story of death, love and union.
This photographic work consists of two photos – Venice (Portrait of Christine Furuya-Gößler), 1985 – present in Friedl Kubelka vom Gröller’s exhibition Songs of Experience.
LAST TRIP TO VENICE
The destination did not matter.
“Somewhere far away,” “Just the two of us” she suddenly said during the second night after return home. She had been hospitalized for about a week. I, too, was in the mood to leave home, where the oppressive smell of sickness seemed to have spread, and the familiar surroundings for a while. It seemed to me that familiar objects, even our friends and the landscape around us, would only drive her into more confusion.
I found out that there was a midnight train to Venice, so we immediately hurried to the train station. We left the city of Graz over which deepest darkness, cold and depression had descended.
We arrived in Venice the next morning. The lagoon city spread before us flat and colourless, almost devoid of people and just awakening. Instead of sleet, paled meadows and an icy mountainscape, a stone city bathed in the fragrance of the sea greeted us. Leaving Santa Lucia train station, a cathedral above the canal caught my eye. Fascinated by the beauty, the gentle ensemble formed by the dome and its arches, I briefly stopped. It seemed to me as if an invisible hand had been painting, in pale copper green, in the broad, flat and empty sky.
Aimless strolling. It was all we undertook – from left to right, up and down – just walk. The Vaporetto ride gave us brief quiet. On deck, exposed to the salt wind of the sea, Christine stared into the distance. For a short moment, she turned around and smiled at me.
“It’s good that we took the trip, after all”, I thought.
Today I do not exactly remember what we talked while walking. My German was not helplessly poor but I could not find words to express the pain in the depth of my heart.
Two days later we left Venice in the rain. For a moment I felt a sensation of calm, but deep inside were anxiety and depression. She was, at the same time, so close I could have touched her, and then again, far away. On an autumn day, a few months later, she ended her life by her own will in East Berlin.
Today, two films remain – documents of this trip to Venice. One of them I mistakenly double-exposed. After our return from Venice, Christine was again hospitalized and I moved from Dresden to East Berlin for a new place of work. This is how images of the Berlin cityscape or of my new apartment overlaid those of Venice. The last trip and her death – meanwhile all this lies 17 years in the past. As I try to filter the single image from the double scenes, my slowly moving eyes come to rest. I close them and wait for words…
Is the photographer who hides his face behind these images a man who kept photographing her to drive her to her death?