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Lierlou, France

Correspondence with Jana Joanna Milbou


It is difficult to only remember the images that were already in my head. Inevitably, some of these images will be fantasized. I have never thought of your landscape in such concrete terms. It's quite remarkable and logical that all my pictures are built around a few coat hooks: the two photos I got from you. 

I start with your bedroom. You are sleeping in an old, solid wood bed. Your sheets are white. I see the truss of the roof, so you must be sleeping in the attic. But I see old, white walls. Behind the paint is a thick exterior wall of natural stone or clay that keeps the heat out in the summer. I can't see if you have windows in your bedroom. If you did, they would be small. What I'm really thinking about are the roof trusses. The tobacco leaves you told me about hang from the beams to dry. 

The living room is small and dark, with the wood-burning stove in the center. Around the stove are deep, soft seats with sheepskin blankets. Perhaps there are rugs on the floor. Again, the windows are small. The rest of the house I haven't really imagined yet. I usually imagine the hills and the woods and the roads and the villages. In my imagination the house is not visible from the road. Wild plants isolate the house from the general view of the country. The enclosure of the house makes it look even older. It is not unkempt. The house has long since found its place in the landscape and is only doing what is expected of it: providing safety, security, and a home. The house does not pretend to be anything other than what it is, it willingly allows itself to be overgrown. 


Along the side of the road, an old collapsed wall runs like a symbolic line along the estate. There are two ways to get to the house. Either through the gate or through the path leading to the front door which has not been used for years. The gate is open, why would it be closed? The path is overgrown with vines and weeds. Who would ever enter through the front door? And why? Because everyone goes through the larger gate in the wall a little further on. This gate is also always open. You walk around the property in a large curve and then past the back of the house. Along two tire tracks that run through the grass towards the kitchen door, old tools lie under the fruit trees, waiting for a second life. In winter, the kitchen door is tightly shut. In summer it is open almost day and night. In front of the window of the small, cool kitchen is an open area where the daily activities take place. There is a table and there are chairs in the grass and I see a small old greenhouse, almost ready to be reused. Its life was hanging by a thread, and it would almost have had to spend its last days as a storeroom. Now, in spring, seeds are germinating among the old stuff. Spring is slowly making its return. It won't be long before the blue sky is accompanied by the fresh green of the leaves on the trees and the soft pastel colors of the flowers. During the day it can be wonderfully warm. At night the sky is open. In the morning, the landscape sheds its elegant mist. It is time to sweep the remnants of winter from the garden for good.

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