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"Solfatara and Bois de Bout"

Liv Veazey

1. A hybrid essay inspired by Vittorio De Seta's short documentary films from the 50’s on life in southern Italy, particularly sulfur mining in south-central Sicily. The research and writing combines scientific geological literature on the region's sulfur deposits with social and labor histories of sulfur mining practices in Sicily, as well as artistic responses/representations to these histories. Excerpt below:

In this small mining town, twenty women stand around a long concrete basin filled with water, scrubbing piles of fabric. Small, strong hands, glistening and red and raw, pull together a bright white cloth in a lump, press it into a wooden washboard. The cloth brightens, it leaks grey liquid back into the basin. A thin, high voice sings in the light.

Before, when the cloth was spun, it was grey. It was called grey cloth. It was dirty, and oily, and salty. The cloth was washed.

Potash, made of burnt timber, stripped the oils.

The cloth was washed.

The cloth was sent North, where dairy is so plenty it turns faster than it is drunk, and where the water is pure. Sour milk stripped the salts.

The cloth was washed in the clear water of the North.

The cloth was laid over the fields to bleach in the sun.

The cloth was washed.

The women press their weight into bent wrists, bobbing up and down, glancing across the basin and laughing in the sunlight.

2. A profile on the street performer François Monestier, who makes wooden marionettes by hand and performs the fables of La Fontaine in the center of Paris, sourcing the wood from a forest near Paris. I'll write about his life, artistic practice, his relationship to his materials, and his ethic of "lightness," necessary both for marionettes hung on strings and for transporting props long distances as a street performer. To the right, a photo of his workshop, entitled Bois de Bout, meaning both “wood standing up” and “end wood.” The mask above the door depicts Sancho Panza, from Don Quixote.

3. A selection from a small, hand-drawn book entitled 24 Skies.

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