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Review: Beyond Thought: Homage to Clarice Lispector

D. Eric Bookhardt on Josephine Sacabo's photogravures inspired by the Brazilian author



Did you ever wake up with a sense that you were leaving a magical place as you entered an ordinary day? The dream vanishes, but for the rest of the day you experience fleeting flashbacks to that tantalizingly near yet elusive place. A doctor might attribute it to a digestive disturbance, but for poets, dreams have a psychic reality that can be explored with a bit of effort. For photographer Josephine Sacabo, the visions conjured by her favorite writers inspire photographs that resemble fragments of a fantastical parallel universe. Her new series was inspired by Brazilian author Clarice Lispector, who once asked: "And as for music, after it's played, where does it go?" Sacabo's images provide no literal answers but surround us with visionary echoes — like elusive dreams that create their own realities.

  Lispector was that most unusual of creatures: a mystical modernist who was born in the Ukraine and immigrated with her family to Brazil. Sacabo, a visual poet born into a Laredo, Texas family of cattle ranchers, filters Lispector's verbal paradoxes through the lens of her own richly visionary life experiences. Like dreams, they range from subtle to over the top. In the appropriately titled Waking Dream, a mannequin that looks like a silent movie starlet in an evening dress appears surrounded by stuffed trophy animals including a tiger in a tuxedo, and while fantastical, it clearly has real world parallels. In The Dress, a more subtle view of a girl in a lacy dress is seen from the rear as water gurgles in a nearby stone fountain. Although nothing much is happening here, this vision could pull you through the looking glass. In I am a Memory of Myself (pictured), the lens of an old camera is the portal into a world "beyond thought," where images reflect what Sacabo calls "our true psychic reality." That magic mirror can enable us to see "a deeper connection between ourselves and the world." — D. ERIC BOOKHARDT

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