Wednesday 22 May 2024


I like the french title une image peut-être vraie better than the english, Alex Cléo Roubaud, a portrait in fragments. The english brings out frenchness, not french, nor Alex Cléo Roubaud — her full name, her photos, her notebooks and letters — more the neutral catalogue quality that Hélène Giannechini brings to her appraisal of a short life in words and pictures, like a laying out, a door closing in great detail.

I'm well-placed to read her on a changeable afternoon in May, but I don't want to. An old unwillingness to recognise what I know best, creeps over me on the sofa in the new room, the cat asleep not far away, a few heavy showers, thunder yesterday, peppers planted out, borlotti beans started. 

A penultimate page entitled (BLACK) shows a photograph of six window panes and a cord-pull with a driveway, lawns, a belt of trees.

Let's pull the cord, hide the last photograph from view. I'll leave Alix's memory there. I wanted to write between the pieces of evidence. An account has emerged. Memories are words, and archives are documents.

       Fleshing Alix out in fiction was not my intention; I worked in the interstices between the traces of her that remain.

        This is not a photograph of Allix's life, but fragments of her work; scattered shards.

        A picture that may be true.

The Sylph Editions translation by Thea Petrou, ends with a letter to Hélène Giannechini. 

Making then, not taking. Through your wandering into the lexical fields of memory, action painting, dance, bullfighting, medicine and eroticism, I have followed Alix's processes in the darkroom and observed the imposition of her own physicality — a performance — on the film. And now I see the pictures, what they are made of.

    Thank you, Hélène.

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