Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Vivian Hsu: I left my heart on one of these benches



Via Orlando, in the village of Anacapri. I was walking silently, as if something serious could threaten me as I crossed the narrow sideways. I was approaching another location filled with history and I felt as if I was lost in some daydream. I was looking for one of these beautiful majolica benches, with fruits and grapes and scenes of traditional life on the island of Capri.
The "panchine" as they are called here are indeed very nice and artistic. Besides, they provide some free place for a little stop when the walk has been too long. But in my eyes, the "panchina" that I was looking for had much more importance: it was the place where Vivian Hsu had reclined years ago. And I was prepared to watch her on this bench again as if she had never left this place.




I had carefully planed my trip to Capri, as you would plan an important tour or a pilgrimage. Weeks ago, I had scanned the pictures of the photobook and I had made large prints. I had protected them from rain and mist in a transparent folder and now I was in front of the first bench, with the print in my hand... and yes, it was the right bench, the "panchina" with the woman going to the well, as could be guessed on the blurred photograph.


And then it happened, the bench was no more sad and empty. It seemed to be rising to some form of life again. The clouds had disappeared in a flash and the sunshines began to hightlight the colorful sketches on the tiles. It was like the advent of a wedding day. And the bride was here, magnificent and intimidated. Her white gown of lace was drawing shadows of intimacy on her neckline. She was so sweet, "kawaii" as the Japanese would say... This is the brandname of Vivian Hsu, isn't it?


Actually the lonely "panchina" was announcing Piazza Diaz, a small square in front of the church of Santa Sofia. The surrounding streets were empty in the morning, but the Piazza was crowded. The mass was still going on inside the church, but a fair number of children and their parents were waiting outside on the benches. Benches again, on two sides of the square, benches with terracotta bowls full of flowers.


Again I was haunted by a set of lovely pictures of Vivian Hsu on this Piazza. I had discovered the secret of the location by comparing a photograph published by the Asian PH magazine in 1995 with snapshots made by tourists that had visited Anacapri. First I had recognised the wrought iron fence and the window frames painted in green. I had also found the website of the company that had built the "panchine". Then I had focused on the woman on the tile and the bowls of flowers. I knew therefore that Vivian Hsu had visited Piazza Diaz. But now, I was standing myself in the crowd on Piazza Diaz and the "panchina" was in front of me. But it was not Vivian sitting there: it was an Italian man who was smoking cigarettes while he was watching over his kids.


I began to take pictures of the church, of the square and of the benches. I would have expected that the man sitting on the bench would feel uneasy and go away as I kept hanging around him. But he was quietly smoking while the bells of the campanile were ringing the end of the mass. Finally I decided to walk straight at him and with my poor Italian words I asked him to leave the place. "Prego, vorrei fotografare la panchina, per favore". He must have misunderstood, he thought that I wanted him to take a picture of me on the bench. But anyway he rose up to his feet and abandoned the bench to me. I sat down in awe at the very place where Vivian has been sitting, with the feeling that I was committing sacrilege. That's why I won't post his snapshot on this blog. And for a few minutes, I was free to take pictures of the "panchina" without being disturbed again.


In the afternoon, I came back to Piazza Diaz. The crowd had disappeared, the sun was shining brightly on the benches and I took again a fair amount of photographs. Surrounded by the wonderful sceneries of the tiles, I prayed in my heart for a lovely chinese girl who once came all the way from Asia to Anacapri, wearing a wedding gown as if she were marrying the whole world. She has attracted so much love from strangers that she will never meet. I do hope that she will find someone worthy and trustworthy.

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I could be one of the last mutineers of the Bounty, with my eyes enlighted by the wealth of nature and the grace of God the Creator, amidst a large family where hope plays the part of affluence. ***** Un des derniers révoltés du Bounty, les yeux illuminés par la richesse de la nature et la grâce de Dieu, au milieu d'une famille nombreuse où l'espoir joue le rôle de l'opulence.