Parallel Gallery
and Journal

Three Brenda Ludeman
Were it anywhere else one might have discovered water, inlets barely visible at night. But he wants the camera taken away. He wants it disbarred.

He does not acknowledge this to her. To her he speaks of his isolation, only of the fact of his being separated from her body of work; from a body that is not at all familiar.

A double image appears - one segment of the photograph obscured as though spoiled by the strong light of day. The second is a copy of the first. In the margin she has written a single phrase, now concealed by her unmistakable smile.

It is in the southern hemisphere that these images were recorded. Here also that we became attached to them, beyond their familiarity. To us. Or to him.

He does not recognize the terrain, this discoloured tone at the centre of a photograph; we also have refused to follow her direction. He looks into the camera, at her. To him, she is unrecognizable.

Did they speak of the journey, of her safety and impossible future? He holds her while they move away. We are left within the confines of an image; it might be an ordinary globe of liquid, falling; we spend the duration of a single night in the south.

The landscape with which we are all familiar. That is what they want when they take the first step - to be found or rediscovered.

You can hear the faithful phrase as it ceases to exist. It is he who cannot manage the disparity between the harsh pool of light and the sound of her words, her reference to those faint islands of some former joy.

The binding shifts, the cover is split open. It is a case that has failed to contain the simple image of a celebration.

The phrase returns. The same barely audible phrase we wait for, along with him, when his sentence founders.

He wrote to say he already knew how it was that he might return. She follows the trajectory of the phrase. And despite this accretion of words and images, where letters fold together, overlap and fuse, there is no residue to be seen.

It is no longer her intention to restore the past. Where she has preserved his image we locate a material that is now transparent, now opaque; they wade in the shallow basin, in the silt of a bed, in the wide south.

There it is now, this familiar phrase, known to you in the manner of a landscape; a landscape that is near, as close as it might be were it held in two hands.

But the phrase and the image that has become attached to it can never be reconciled. It is not so readily available, this proximity between a word and an image, between he and she.

Once the page has been turned, the leaves will fall open, the phrase found again unanswered, in the exchange, in the method of recital; a landscape is recalled, the unfamiliar south - in her, and in him.

Brenda Ludeman is a writer living in Melbourne. Her critical writings are concerned with the development of a Kristevan semanalysis. Her work on the notion of a materiality of language is included in a collection of essays titled The Judgement of Paris, edited by Kevin D. S. Murray, Allen & Unwin, 1992.