1 in stock
Watching language crumble in a work by Magritte. Discovering the same, desperate absence in a screaming face by Bacon and in an anthropomorphic animal by Walt Disney. Look at the thick, black blood in a war photo by Don McCullin. Peering into the abyss that opens in the eyes of an elephant locked behind the bars of a zoo. To look again, ten years later, at Grünewald’s altarpiece in Colmar, and recognise one’s own era among the shades of an ancient light, painted five centuries earlier. On looking is a book of images that question writing. But it is John Berger’s entire oeuvre that confirms this indissoluble bond between vision and language: from looking, the enigma of meaning radiates, triggering the tale as an attempt to fix one’s own existence in time, which can take the form of a novel or art criticism, poetry or political intervention. As stated in ‘A Matter of Looks’, ‘Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognises before he is able to speak’. Going through the thinking of Walter Benjamin and Susan Sontag, John Berger highlights how photography has transformed memory into spectacle; analysing Turner’s The Snowstorm, he finds himself enveloped by the violence of nature as if in a maelstrom; looking at a Cartier-Bresson photo of Giacometti walking in the rain, he recognises the same solitude that animates all his sculptures. “On Looking” – which Il Saggiatore offers in a new translation by Maria Nadotti – is much more than a collection of critical essays: it is an organic text in which every image is an unexpected and disturbing event, every encounter with the work of art a real experience or, to use John Berger’s words, a “lived moment” that becomes writing.