‘In my next life, I want to be a cat.’ Charles Bukowski, On cats
I knew I had more lives left. So when the moment came, I knew what my choice would be. ‘In my next life, I want to be a cat’ were my last words on Earth as a human. If you say it at the right time the magic can operate, and it did. It always did…
By chance, I always remember my previous lives. It takes a little while to remember, but after few weeks, the knowledge and awareness of past experiences become conscious. Time is needed. I was two months or so when I realized I had become a cat. I felt dizzy at first, but day by day I felt more comfortable and started to explore my new territory, every corner of it.
I am shy, a little frightened of everything. Noises sound different than before and I am so tiny that everything looks gigantic from this perspective. It is so intriguing to step into this world and discover it as if it were a new one. Cat’s eyes give me a deep awareness of things, something that wasn’t there when I was a human.
I enjoy being a cat and experience new sensations every day. I love jumping like a kangaroo, and moving like a crab with all my hair standing up. Spinning around, playing with my tail, is such fun. Sometimes I stop for a few seconds because I get dizzy, and then I start again until I fall on my back and keep playing, shaking my paws in the air. I value each moment for itself, and it’s a great joy to live it so fully.
I love inaccessible places, and I find my ways are becoming more adventurous each day. The stronger I get, the more I experiment. It took me some time to be able to jump on the low table, then on a wooden chair. From the chair I could access the library. I like to walk on it, surfing between books and plants I can play with. Once on the library, I was able to climb on to furniture I couldn’t access before. I enjoy this point of view every day now; most of the time I sit there in the morning.
I’m playful and I love to hide in the most unexpected places. Things move and I am always keen to stop them in different ways. I also like to watch the human I live with and surprise him when I think he can’t see me. Hide-and-seek is truly my most favorite game.
I love corners and I usually anticipate my human’s moves to frighten him when he comes by. At the very beginning I loved the grey armchair, but now I prefer a 70s one because I can watch him more easily from there when I rest. Any noise he makes, I just open my eyes to see what he’s doing, in a glimpse.
In the morning he writes on a small table in his bedroom. If I’m not playing around or asleep on his knees – he’s quite comfortable, I have to say – I like to sit there and watch his pencil moving. It’s quite fascinating, but soon I can’t stop myself from playing with it. I love to tease him. I guess I’ve kept my great sense of humor. Look at my face, sometimes I smile from the inside…
I love light. At night, I play with my shadow reflected on the wall because of the light. Windows are still my favorite places. I love looking down the street, at people passing by. I hate motorbikes and trucks. They are too noisy for this quiet, peaceful life.
Each time I hear their sounds, I escape from the window and go hiding in the library. There I’m safe and I feel better and I can enjoy the books I push down. He likes to pick the books I play with, my human. Maybe he’s curious to know about my readings…
It’s true that we have things in common. We both love rain. I remember the first time I saw rain as a cat. Its sound against the window was magical. I am more sensitive to sounds now and I really enjoy hearing them as if they were little songs in my heart.
It’s been a few months now. It’s just the beginning of this road, but I already enjoy it. I sleep fifteen to sixteen hours a day. I’m peaceful and quiet. My world is a territory I’m never too bored to explore. I eat around twenty times a day in small portions. I have my crazy moments. I can be sweet and ask for attention when I need it, or I can be wild and independent, refusing caresses when I’m not in the mood for it. I’m free. I enjoy any occasion to play. I’m a cat. I live in the moment.
Paris, late at night last September, tangueros are dancing on the plaza of Opera Garnier. It takes a second to stop. Then, time flies. Tango, the dance of love captured me, again… While I was taking photographs, an idea emerged. If reasons of Love resist to any understanding, would it be possible to identify the signs of its discourse as steps of dancers always appear to me – like a vibrant illustration of this intimate dialogue between lovers?
How is it possible to apprehend what love is? The mechanisms of love are a mystery… Raymond Carver, a fabulous American short stories teller wrote ‘What We Talk When We Talk About Love.’ With such a title, he might have found the best angle to approach what love is. Not love itself but what is involved in love… Also, Roland Barthes, a French philosopher tried in ‘Fragments d’un discours amoureux’ to analyse the language of love, elaborating, a kind of analytical board of its various figures as Dmitri Mendeleïev classified the chemical elements… According to Barthes, the discourse of love is highly ‘choreographic’ and he compares them to movements of dancers. Analyzing this discourse, he called the logic of the reason and applied it to the things of heart. It seems to be a seductive way to find some kind of answers to this mystery. ‘Tangueros’ series tries to take its part in that wondering quest.
Tango is easy to be seduced by. The body language of this dance and its music are certainly very powerful, even if it would be easy to confess this is a personal belief coming from its practice… The colors of Tango are black and red, and nobody ignores that red roses have thorns too. Each step of this dance could be the last one. It is a dialogue converging to a climax. Even if one of the dancers is supposed to have the lead in this conversation, any of the dancers is free to stop its course for a moment, introducing a new step to this sparring verbal. That’s how the dance occurs. In that way, Tango steps are really close to the figures Barthes identified. Re-reading ‘Fragments d’un discours amoureux’ while editing the photographs of this series was like growing evidence… This series of steps was like some of the loved ones.
* This shy distance of the very first steps when dancing is not already in question.
* This precarious balance after, what is not yet a couple, starts dancing. Dancers need these steps to know each other.
* The mistaken steps, and how the dancers need to adjust their movements when in doubt about the meaning of dancing together, are still in the air.
* This impossible try to let it die, inspired by this primitive fear of being hurt. How thrilled it is to hold on to, despite of it. How sweet it is too, to quiet each other in this need of trying, at least, just trying.
* The very first dancing steps. They are not perfect but something is happening and it’s already taking both of them beyond words.
* How this new grammar of steps provides the energy to give and ask for more that they might think at the very first sight. Sensations don’t allow them to think any more – steps are coming from something deeper.
* The need to take a break, just like birds on a wire. It goes too fast and finding breath to articulate is difficult. Suddenly, fear and blossom of dancing are intimately melted.
* These moments of grace where feelings can only be expressed with free movements, just like an air of bandoneon. Imagination took its part in this earned and sublimed trust, coming from previous steps.
* There is a belief in this balance which seems perfect. One move and the other is able to finish the sequenced steps the first dancer suggested. Intimacy is pushed to its limits in what seems a perfect match: bodies are vibrating, hearts are beating strongly and minds are filled with pure sensation. For the time of a dance, bodies and souls are extended to a kind of eternity as if this moment had to last for ever.
Steps and signs. Step by step, a grammar of these signs is enlightened: its subjects, its objects, its sequenced sentences, its rhythms, its breaths and its poetry. Unless what it is about remained a whole mystery. Photography captures moments; images are like signs of living love, living lives. Photography is itself a grammar helping us to approach deepest mysteries as close as we can. As a photographer, it is a never ending dance…
L. Bird, Paris, December 2016.
You can find her on : Instagram | Website
‘April In Paris’ is the first series of the project ‘f r a g m e n t s o f a w o m a n ‘ s l i f e’ . Each series is the story of a real and ordinary moment, lived by a woman and documented by ten diptychs with a short story inspired by them. This storytelling project melds photography and literature, explores their own borders, flirts with reality and imagination without trying to find a reasonable balance between them.
In Paris, on a Saturday, a woman is preparing herself to meet a man. She’s known him for a while, although they have only been polite acquaintances, not even friends. With time, his relationship to her, and not knowing what he really feels for her, comes to her mind more often than she would like. She has tried to fight against this strange phenomenon, this increasing sensation it reveals, but there is nothing she can do but let it take the place it reclaims… This afternoon, she’s experiencing the thrill of this coming moment, fed by her suspended hopes that something will happen. In just a few hours they will meet; this event is appearing to be a date.
The light by the end of this afternoon is sweet and tenuous. In front of the window, facing Paris, her thoughts are about nothing and anything. Music is on, but she can barely hear it.
Things she’s left out are like tracks of her day. Shoes and socks abandoned since she came out in the morning, clothes on her undone bed, are tiny signs of her mood.
For an instant, she looked into her own eyes searching for answers to the next hours. She would better…
Sitting down in her bath, she’s cleaning her skin, from her neck to her feet, with delicate movements… The music is coming from the living room and she lets her thoughts follow its rhythm now…
What time can it be?
Back in her bedroom, the waltz of clothing starts. A blouse, a t-shirt, This one would be better?! if ‘better’ can be possible in that matter… If she’s worried, it’s nothing but excitement.
While she’s painting her lips, she tries to figure out this very first moment. Would she know his thoughts at first sight? Shoes on, she smiles at the mirror, as if it were him, to visualize how she would look smiling at something he would say. But it only took her a second to laugh at herself.
Time… She’s not late, but the elevator took so long to come to her floor. She doesn’t think about anything, anymore.
Now, she’s just on his way;
L. Bird is an independent photographer and film maker based in Paris [France]. Her work is all about storytelling, whatever it concerns [whether photography, series or short-movies]. Her work’s aesthetic is mainly inspired by street and documentary photography, but in such manner as that it always turns her images into contemporary tales…
Vimeo: Lady Bird