The dark silhouette, captured from the back, faces the crashing waves on the horizon. Below the black and white photograph, patti smith writes “A new year is unfolding, before us the unknown, overflowing with possibilities”. The opening record of A Book of Daysa new work by Smith, encapsulates the tone of the book – glimpses of the singer’s unique vision of Horsesforerunner of the punk rock and one of the most influential albums of the 20th century. For Patti Smith, the world is full of new perspectives, hidden in the everyday details.
The proposal of A Book of Days is declared: there are 366 images posted on Artist’s Instagram, @thisispattismith. Since 2018, at her daughter’s encouragement, Smith has stored the photos she takes daily on her page. The simplicity of the profile debut, the author’s hand waving hello, breaks with the logic of the instagrammable.
More than that, Smith offers a direct presentation to the reader, almost a spectator of his exhibition – the term acquires a dubious character, when it comes to social networks. We are facing an emotional calendar, the diary of the survivor of a lost generation, still an object of fascination.
A book of days follows the logic of Smith’s literary work, with a strong autofictional appeal. In just boys (2010), winner of the National Book Award, the fundamental space of art in the life of the multi-artist is evidenced, from her relationship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.
Devotion (2017), an experimental and hybrid text, is a true ode to literature, in which Smith traces the footprints of authors such as Arthur Rimbaud, Patrick Modiano, Paul Valéry and Simone Weil.
Books and manuscripts complete the photographic records of Um Livro dos Dias. Democratic, it pays tribute to fellow countrymen like Sylvia Plath, names of English letters like Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, Latinos Jorge Luis Borges and Roberto Bolaño and Japanese Haruki Murakami.
The elegiac tone, also known from other works by Patti Smith – in particular, The Year of the Monkey (2019), in which she deals with the loss of two friends, musician Sandy Pearlman and writer and playwright Sam Shepard – rounds out the collection of images. It places us, for example, in front of the tombstones of Albert Camus, Simone Weil and Susan Sontag. Cemeteries are a great setting for artistic making; an exercise in respect and gratitude, explains Smith.
Patti Smith between NY and Paris
Two cities stand out. To New York, the destination of the young Patricia Lee Smith, and to Paris, the reflections of the already mature multi-artist. The collection of images is essentially personal: Smith’s bed, his Abyssinian cat, his daily cup of coffee, a pair of Italian boots. They are fragments of life, the glimpse of a creator’s restless mind.
On the cover of the book, a mysterious Patti Smith covers her mouth with her hand while holding an antique camera. The gesture reveals the essence of the set, a self-fictional impetus in which she holds control of the narrative. She is the artist, as author, who shows us her collection of images directly. In this sense, the presence of lenses in A Book of Days it’s pretty significant, from Smith’s glasses to the Polaroid Land 250, which shares space with a modern cell phone.
In a network where information is released and lost amid the bombardment of images, Smith’s photos conquer new contours with the sagacity of their captions, poetic traits in a world of ephemera. In this small subversion lies the impulse of patti smith of the 1970s, the poet of punk rock. The collection of these records, transformed into a book, is in itself an act of memory.
In the penultimate segment of A Book of Days, the artist writes: “Every birthday my mother would call me at 6:01 am and leave the following message: Wake up, Patricia, you were born!”. In this curious passage lies the heart of the work – the ode to life, the impetus for discovery, the look into the hidden aura of things. Once again, Patti Smith shows us her devotion. You have to know how to see the possibilities.
Author: Patti Smith
Publisher: Companhia das Letras (400 pages; BRL 104.90; BRL 44.90 the e-book)
Tags: Patti Smiths posts photos reflections singer Instagram intriguing book--