In the meantime, I wanted to post an update that Amazon came through for me inexplicably last month, after multiple delays and confusing status updates on the delivery of my copy of 'Imprints'. I had thought it would be faster to obtain a copy if I bought the book in Oslo, but then I received a shipping notice, and a few days later that beautiful book showed up at my house, on January 19th - even earlier than one of the previous delivery dates.
Anyway, how and when it got to me is significantly less important right now than expressing just how stunning and wonderful and beautiful this book is. It's clear from the texture of the cover to the choice of paper throughout, as well as the careful layout of information, essays, poetry and photos, that every choice about developing this book was a kind of proud and deliberate curation of material about this vast project. The book itself is art, anything less would not be worthy to reflect the scope and - sorry - impact of these works.
The first night, I spent some time reading through the poems. There are far too few to satisfy me after such a long word drought, but for the purpose of this book I think the selection is perfect. So many are familiar, like old friends; a few are not familiar yet. And on every page in the side margin, you will find the date of original publication, quietly noting each poem's place on a creative timeline, should that be important to you. If memory serves, there are only 2-3 poems from this decade. The rest hail from what feels like another century, a very different time. Those combined qualities of familiarity and distance reinforce for me the sense of timelessness I have felt when visiting the sculpture park. It's amazing to sit with a book thousands of miles away and have words on a page bring back to life the wonder and fascination of experiencing the park in person.
Believe it or not, I have only flipped through the photos quickly on several occasions, and I have only read the introduction once; I haven't read the essays or looked at the photos in detail yet. Part of the reason for that is my schedule has been crazy over the past month, but also I want to draw out the process of absorbing this book for as long as possible :-) I'm particularly fascinated with the photos of the process of making the atrium letter bricks, that will be the next part of the book I spend some serious time with.
It truly is a beautiful book, as I said a work of art in itself. Get your hands on a copy, spend some time with it, you won't regret it.
Speaking of regret, I didn't get out to Fornebuporten on this trip to Oslo, and I am disappointed about that. I've been to the sculpture park the last three times I went to Oslo, and didn't think anything would prevent me from making that touchpoint on this trip as well - especially because I still haven't seen the completed park, it was still being constructed when I was there in May 2016.
On some level I am glad I didn't get there, though. When I last visited in winter, it was during the Nobel Peace Prize concert weekend in December 2015, and I was carrying heavy grief with me. My father had just been treated for septic shock and was settled back in his rehab home, doing well enough for me to be able to travel without worry, but at that point his 18 months of illness had taken a toll on his reserves of strength. I think it was the first time I seriously thought about the possibility of losing him - he'd had some close calls, several bouts on a respirator, very scary stuff - but somehow I never wrapped my brain around the idea of my first hero, the strongest and bravest man I knew, losing his battle with this sickness. But on that dark night, wandering alone across the atrium and reading poetry by the light shining from the Christmas tree and the office buildings above, considering the timelessness of the works being installed for generations to enjoy, it put me in mind of how short a time we all have here.
In September 2015 I had visited the park on a sunlit, warm day. My father was walking again and expecting to return home very soon. We texted a lot on that trip, and when I got back I told him all about the park. He was fascinated, even saying he might like to see it himself some day. I was so full of hope for him then, so you can imagine the contrast a few months later when I returned in the dark of winter and hope was reduced to a tiny spark. I didn't recognize it then, but I was grieving the living - I've done some reading on this lately and it makes sense now, that when we begin to know the loss of a dear one is coming, we begin the process of grieving.
That winter night my heart was heavy, and the next day I met a friend for dinner and somehow wound up unloading a bunch of insecurities on her - some stuff about an unrelated situation I had been carrying around that needed to go somewhere, doubts and disappointments and frustration with myself and more. She listened kindly and thoughtfully, it wasn't about her and she could be objective. It all came out in what might have seemed like an angry rant to someone who doesn't know me well, but which I think she realized was just pain, plain and simple. I regret putting her in that position, and I regret not having the insight and self awareness at the time to realize that I was lashing out about someone I care about - and who didn't deserve it - because I was suffering for another reason.
I've written about associations in the past, about deliberately creating them or trying to avoid creating them, because for me these emotional connections can be powerful. They are imprints in a way, etched into the surface of my heart, perhaps eventually to smooth away or grow deeper, as experience and time moves on. Anyway, my associations with the park, particularly in winter, now include this conversation and that profound experience of pre-loss grief for my father, and I have no idea what it would have been like to visit last weekend so close to the second anniversary of his death. So maybe it was good that I missed it this time.
I'll just have to visit again sometime when the days are long and I have ample time to read the poetry on the sculptures, and I can sit and eat my lunch outside, like I did on that warm, sunny September day :-)
All this to say - in yet another way, because I've definitely said it before - that art and place have meaning well beyond what an artist has in mind when creating them. And 'Imprints' as a project, as a whole, has meaning for me that is very different than for any other person, because of these experiences and associations. There are endless possibilities related to these works, it boggles my mind sometimes considering how many ways people will interact with and experience the park over the coming decades, long beyond the time when it was first conceived as an idea and Magne accepted his commission.