The day men and women began to speak, they also started to provide order to the chaos of feelings that haunted their hearts. In this sense we can invoke the biblical phrase “in the beginning was the Word”. As human beings our existence became imbued with meaning and direction, enabling us to create and tell stories over and over again. Myths and histories were born. From then on, human beings could speak time.
But what about space?
In the beginning was also the Garden.
A garden is an enclosed space. A garden needs a frame if it is to be called a garden. The garden is the moment when a place becomes a landscape. The garden, or the orchard, is the germ of the settlement, the village, the town, the city and the nation. The garden, we might be inclined to say, is neither completely natural nor fully human and as such stands at an equal distance between Man and God.
Humans are makers of gardens just as they are tellers of stories.
The photographs in Massao Mascaro's Jardin address both these aspects of culture. They embody the delicate tensions that occur in space and time; moments that are always suspended but never decisive, as though tiny doors opened on to eternity. His images may depict the space between two hands; a ray of light on a twisted branch; a twig caught in a wire fence; or the enigmatic look in a young woman's eyes.
Nature is an invention of Man, a concept that allows us to talk about everything that is not human. Nature is a paradox, but one full of nostalgia, since the only thing in our world that is not Man is what came before Man, untouched by our eyes, unnamed by our voices. Nature is something of which we can only dream and the garden is the space we have devised to host such reveries. Gardens are always inhabited by loss or by dark prophecies of extinction. Just like photographs, they are inhabited by our absence.
This may be why there is always something missing in Mascaro's pictures, why there is a sort of void. Sometimes it takes the form of a shadow, or a black hole in the road, and in another instance, of shapes drawn on the ground by empty bottles or scattered pebbles.
Text by Federico Clavarino