A Financial Times article announcing a London exhibition of the Japanese photographs:
Focusing on the inauspicious presence of ravens in the coastal landscapes of the photographer’s native Hokkaido, Masahisa Fukase’s dark and haunting series Solitude of Ravens (1986) is a chronicle of emptiness and obsession.
Nidaa Barwan is a young Palestinian artist who took up solitude in order to withdraw from the horrors of war and oppression around her residence in Gaza. Taking up reading Garcia-Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude inspired her to conceive of consolidating her digital photographs into an exhibition theme titled “One Hundred Days of Solitude,” although she has maintained her solitude now for over a year, excluding only short forays from her room.
The exhibition has received attention, having been presented outside Gaza in Israel and profiled in the New York Times and by France24. Barwan structures the solitude of self as colorfully interior spaces, enriching the still-life photographs with a strong personal presence. As an artist, she asserts a protest to the world, naturally, and justifies this sentiment with a consciously constructed and maintained solitude.
The Poetry Foundation website includes a page of “Poems about Loneliness and Solitude” with the subheading: “Poetry offers solace for the lonely and a positive perspective on being alone.” Among the categories of selected poems are Celebrating Solitude, Wallowing in Loneliness, and Being Alone in a Crowd. Includes podcasts of readings and reflections on the relationship of poetry, loneliness, and solitude.
The Asia Society Museum will present an exhibition titled “The Artful Recluse: Poetry and Politics in 17th century China” in the spring of 2013. From the website, here is a summary of the exhibition organized by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art:
This is the first exhibition to explore the theme of reclusion in Chinese painting and calligraphy within the broader context of political and social changes during the seventeenth century, a time of rich cultural expression and dramatic political change. The rise of major schools of regional painting as well as the trauma of the Ming dynasty’s collapse in 1644 and the Manchu Qing conquest provided an extraordinary context for the creation of historically conscious, often emotionally charged and deeply personal paintings and works of calligraphy. These images, however varied, share an overarching theme of reclusion, a concept of withdrawal and disengagement that has deep and significant roots in China, and which remains relevant in contemporary Chinese art and culture. The exhibition comprises approximately fifty-five works from public and private collections in the United States and Asia.
An exhibition in Corona, Italy, titled “Into the Silence” by the Italian photographer Carlo Bevilacqua is highlighted by the New York Times.
The NYT article is titled “Hermits of the Third Millennium” and includes a slideshow of 20 photos of hermits (some of whom have been included before in Hermitary’s Features section). About the subjects, article writer James Estrin notes:
Mr. Bevilacqua’s subjects live by themselves, separate from others, by choice. Some have had religious visions and pursue study or prayer. Others are spiritually inclined, but not religious in the classical sense. Then, there are those who just don’t like being among other people in modern society. But all live a life of intentional simplicity and isolation.
Re the photographer:
After spending so much time with hermits, Mr. Bevilacqua believes that greater emphasis on accumulating material wealth, along with the growth of the digital and virtual worlds of video games and social media, has brought mankind further from a quiet pursuit of a simple, reflective life.
He says that this series is like a mirror to the viewer.
“I worked all day long for years to pay for my house, and these people live on nothing, nothing,” he said. “Maybe they are right, and I didn’t really choose. Even if you are not a hermit, you can choose your life.”
“The Anchorite” of Zuloaga seems entirely 17th century Velasquez, with the elongated human figure, and the whirlwind of sky and dwarfed town like the latter’s famous Toledo. But the artist is Ignacio Zuloaga, who painted it in 1907. Zuloaga did make Velaquez his earliest subject of study. The landscape has become an odd counterpart to the desert, to the world as desert, and though his vestment is conventional, the hermit’s expression is not. The unshaven, barefoot hermit has not a pious but disengaged expression on his face, wistful or mad, the input of centuries of Spanish art, peaking around Goya. The anchorite is not approachable, for he is no longer of this world. In the Musee d’Orsay.
“Next Time I’ll Sing to You” is the title of a play by James Saunders, produced in 1962 and occasionally performed, most recently at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond (London). The play has also been staged briefly on Broadway in New York. The play is a “play within a play” with actors/characters waiting for the hermit James Alexander Mason, the “Hermit of Great Canfield, Essex,” to arrive. A summary of the play as found in a recent article in the Richmond Twickenham Times:
The play follows four actors trying to find out the truth about a hermit named James Alexander Mason, who decided in 1906 at the age of 48 to sell his cottage, build a hut in a field beyond his village, surround it with ditches, hives of wild bees, barbed wire and two tonnes of corrugated iron fence to take up solitary residence. His brother left him food every day, but he was not seen again until at the age of 84, when he was brought out dead.
The characters explore a variety of philosophical questions, and moments of Mason’s life and thought are recreated in a non-linear drama that challenges audiences to reflect on meaning, society, and self.