Black Water Ballad
True huis-clos around a small lake where Lucas Olivet grew up, this series is about the relationship to water, looking to pay tribute to this wilderness, there to detect traces of a spirituality in which man finds himself living simply, peacefully, to the rhythm of the sun. Olivet restrained himself of doing very simple images in such distracting environment. At the same time, a blur remains. Is this deer stuffed ? Are these cast iron pans staged ?
Afterword by Sarah Burkhalter accompagning Black Water Ballad artist book, Editions JB, 2016
Still the ripples widened.
The swimmers had long since settled on the deck, yet the lake was humming with their strokes. The canoes crackled in the late sun. A pinecone stumbled to the ground. The rock looked on.
Transatlantic journeys, whether airborne or oceanwise, often leave the traveler in a daze, keener than ever to capture the slightest shift in the surroundings. Suddenly the footfall of a doe will awaken all. Or the evergreen will tell the tale of the lake, to many
a home abroad and a haven onboard a stretch of summer.
Here is where they arrive, where they gather, where they relate. If only for a few days or weeks, here is how they live, and build, and cook. The place embraces them.
Mid-afternoon, a cousin tinkered away amidst the reeds. Another one looked up from her book, and the spring in her chair sighed back into position, spanning cloth and hinge. Their eyes caught.
A flower had just been picked in the underbrush. A plan was afoot. A plan that required the finest bloom around. A promise to cup one’s memory at the trickle of time on the shoreline.
Dusk eventually deepened the water. It cast a glow in the cabin’s windows and drew everyone
indoors, riding a wave at the edge of the day. Here, the rapture of being together began to push the sky away, as sundry voices and driftwood stories rose above the birch trees.
Kopiec Bonawentura takes its origin from a quote by Alfred Jarry from Ubu Roi (1896): «Set in Poland, that is to say nowhere.»
Lucas Olivet builds a multiple and transnational answer, somewhere between Poland and the exile lands of its diaspora called Polonia. He lets himself be driven by a Polish legend, the one of Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kosciuszko. The series title, Kopiec Bonawentura, is borrowed from a memorial built on the heights of Cracow. Historians call him «the last knight» or «the first citizen of the world». His heroic journey illustrates the common cause of nations that are subject to the shifting of their borders.
Blurring the lines between documentary and fiction, Kopiec Bonawentura examines the uncertainties of memory, the concept of permanence and the notion of identity. It brings together portraits, landscapes and closely observed ambient details where photographs exist to contradict one another and to build a narrative that is elusive. The series is being exhibited for the first time at the Rencontres d’Arles 2018 and has been finalist for the 2017 Lange-Taylor Prize from Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University. Kopiec Bonawentura is being published by Kerber Verlag (Berlin).