Dream of Venice, photography by Charles Christopher, edited by Joann Locktov, forward by Frances Mayes, with 37 contributors. Bella Figura Publications, 2014. http://www.bellafiguracommunications.com
“Venice is a state of mind” wrote Frances Mayes in her stunning Foreward to this exquisite book on Venice, concluding with “You are the dreamer. You are the room. You open the door over and over”.
The secret is out among those who have taken the time to live the dream, to truly experience Venice again and again, to consciously infuse the place into memory, to let Venice possess a part of them. Venice is a state of mind, a dream, and most importantly, a door that you open over and over again.
JoAnn Locktov has choreographed the extraordinay photographs by Charles Christopher with from-the-heart commentary by a cast of renowned dreamers, who have all also realized their own creative dreams and shared them with the world, to create a remarkable exhibition of coupled word and visual pictures that speak to the essence of La Serrissima — that is, Venice.
There truly is no other place on earth like Venice. Many fabulous cities compete for your attention, and entice you to explore their own unique histories, culture, places and mythos. Many alluring towns and stunningly wild places do the same. We can enjoy and perhaps even love them for that. Venice refuses comparison; she disdains all competition; she demands your attention; she requires you to experience her always and only on her own terms.
Venice is to be cherished for her cheek, her incredible and inescapable history, for her display of riotous overindulgence side by side with her imperfections and decay.
Within, one may experience the most modern of the fine arts, science, commerce and relationships, perhaps even tolerate (but not appreciate) its tourist hordes because they help frame the extremes of the place and Venice’s long-suffering tolerance of us.
“Dream of Venice” reads the dreams of those who cherish this place in a way not paralleled in many – if any – publications in recent times, and shares that reading with us in a book that is in itself a work of art. Those dreams and the reality of Venice cannot be readily translated by or comprehended by many – including, sadly, that horde of tourists. The authors deeply comprehend and translate with precision. Their efforts may convict those teetering on the fence between indifference (fear?) and fascination to be boldly open to the mystery and reality of this seemingly impossible floating City-State, the last remaining outpost of the Roman Empire for more than 1500 years, the heir of storied Constantinople.
Venice? Relevant? Going strong? Despite day-trip masses, mega-cruiseships, rising waters, fleeing residents? The answer is, unequivocally, “Yes” (shout it!). Venice has reinvented itself many times in response to seemingly existential challenges, and prevailed over “conventional wisdom” of those “experts” who do not know its roots and strengths, who have never had the Dream. Save us, and Venice, from their formulas and conceits.
“Dream of Venice” gives strong evidence, in its portrayal of Venice’s sublime yet often unconventional beauty and complexly paradoxical physical reality, that this mirage on the waters will be sustained for another millenium or more.
Dream of Venice. Share the dream. Accept the reality.
During one long-ago sojourn in Venice, a restaurant owner – a Venetian! (now an old friend!) – worried that we were still in his osteria long after the cruise crowds, daytrippers and tour herds needed to be in their safe accommodations, locked away in fear of the dream of Venice. We told him that we were back again, independent and staying. He pondered, stared, nodded gravely, and simply stated with conviction,
“Then, you understand.”
JoAnn Locktov, Charles Christopher and the 37 contributors have also invested in comrehending Venice – letting Venice have her way with them. The proof is in their words and images – They Understand.
Devour “Dream of Venice” and, if you find yourself drawn into the dream, even if you have not yet made a commitment to let Venice have her way with you, you will be rewarded by the experience. If the tales it tells and the images it reveals trouble you, are beyond comprehension or ability to be moved, if Venice pushes you away… Venice will always draw and welcome the rest of us, drawing us back into the dream. Venice will patiently wait for you to find you have awakened into that dream.
In the interim times between those when Venice shares herself with us, we have this extraordinary work, “Dream of Venice”, to help keep the dream alive.
Thank you, JoAnn and Charles for sharing your understanding and love for Venice!