We Are Two Abysses

By the time consciousness kicks in, I don’t remember why I am here, in this room.

Darkness surrounds me and the only sound I hear is the whisper of my breath.

I feel darkness through my hair, my face, my arms and my hands. Life is beyond these walls, beyond (or behind) my eyes.

The space around me expands every time I breath. It inflates as a formless cloud. It creates rooms and corridors, stairs and doors, windows on rooms and doors on corridors.

Those details of forgetfulness remain tangible and impassive, watching me silently.

There is no time here. No history. No April, January, July, May or December.

This is a place in which memory finds itself at ease with this abyss of silence. Drops start slowly falling from the ceiling, like rain washing down my face.

I am in an hypnotic state of distress, everything is at a standstill. Change is not contemplated, apparently; and this silence is penetrating into my bones.

I move slowly towards the centre of the room, my own breathing is the only source of life I can perceptibly identify, within these mouldy decomposing walls.

My eyes are covered by a thick layer of impatience, my hands let me grasp what I can’t see.

In the middle of the room, there is a hole. It’s a small fracture. Frozen. Impassible. Magnetic.

I get closer with uncertainty scanning the space that divides us. My senses deliver a strange but concrete impression of feeble sounds.

I get closer and then all at once, voices start to emerge.

They told me: ‘Everything must be destroyed, everything must be built anew’

They told me: ‘Proper subjectivation, proper socialism’ They told me: ‘Prevent your body from becoming neutral’

They told me: ‘The time has come to restore the faith on people’

They told me: ‘Engagè-vous!’ Clusters of voices gathering together the inaudible.

Those words vibrate through my body.

I am scared, neurotically afraid of the past, of the present and of the uncertainty of tomorrow.

I am afraid of the dark, of the passing of time, of depending on someone else’s decision, of incompleteness and not knowing.

I am afraid of defeat, of judgment, of not conforming, of losing oneself and of the sudden change caused by the disruption of events.

Afraid of loss, of misunderstandings, of the inability to react, of sickness, of violence, of politics.

The hole is staring at me trying to soothe my pain with its calm and patient eye. At last, I lay down, terrified and confused.

I am gently embracing this failure, this lack of continuity: this hole is a curious deficiency, a catastrophic absence, a removed part of history.

Sometimes I turn my head making sure that the hole is still there. It is the place in which remembrance and forgetting dissolve into tears.

I could stay in this delicious absorption for countless hours. From this position, I can see skies, deserts, squares, people, streets, hands, happiness, joy, fear. Images are flowing, overlapping, transforming in front of my eyes.

I close them and the images are still there, moving slowly and dissolving, like ghostly shadows.

Movements of light: history is like a faint intermittent glow without orientation, without destination.

The city is commodifying my hallucinatory exhilaration.

Nothing exists under any circumstance: a set of chances, a set of excuses.

The city is me, I write it on my skin to forget the taste of its oblivious squalor.

I dissect this urban horizon. The streets have turned into a square and I am standing here, alone.

Everybody has left already. Not a sound. Action is frozen, the city is deserted and the only self-conscious thought I pretend to have is to think that this suspended moment is a preparatory hallucination for what is to come.

Only few traces remain: a burning car, fresh writings on the walls and trash all over. I am confronted with this sight of debris that covers the streets. An abstract painting created by the illusion of finally grasping reality as it unfolds before my eyes.

The building blocks look down on me, uneven pavements and antennas, everything looks familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.

The present is devoid of revolutionary roles. There is no victory but constant displacement.

I have to learn to forget.

I turn and another door welcomes me back. ‘Do not enter’: that’s more an invitation than a warning.

Stepping on the threshold, I start to recognize the building. Is it my house? Is it my parents’ house? My friend’s house? I don’t remember exactly but my instinct holds me back and a cold shiver runs down my spine. I am deadly afraid without knowing why.

I decide not to enter but from a dusty window I look inside, confining any expectation to the sound of my beating heart.

I can see no one, only holes in there. There are holes on the walls, like bullet holes of different sizes and dimensions. Hundreds, maybe thousands of them. A desert of destruction and violation.

I am safe outside, as if I managed to escape once again.

That’s what I used to do. Breaking into houses, searching for signs of negligence that would justify my actions.

That’s what I used to do. Hiding, in the dark, waiting for the rage to calm and then break out.

That’s what I used to do. Shooting to any random sound.

That’s what I used to do. Always on the run, even though nobody was pursuing me.

That’s what I used to do. Believe in future promises.

That’s what I used to do. Kill my enemies and cry for my friends.

That’s what I used to do.

I have not chosen this place and my presence here makes me worry about my absence elsewhere.

I read this city as a book of hallucinations and every street as a set of promises: each alley, each pavement, each corner could be the beginning of a new line of flight.

I open a door and push the curtain aside. I plunge into the darkness. All the bright shadows from the city are slowly fading away and I find myself seated in an old green leather chair.

A projector is switched on. I can hear the reel running. The first light beam touches the screen like a wound through the dark room.


We are two abysses – a well staring at the sky the title announces


In the middle of the room, there is a hole.

From within, a seascape of joy, abruptly, breaks in into the scene. Swept away by the tide I feel lost in this immense atmosphere of softness and warmth.

I am falling on my knees and I slowly absorb all this water around me. Under the surface my memories shift their form in an uncontrollable dance. I feel light, I feel free as I let myself go in the depth of this ocean.

I keep myself close to the hole, enchanted by this autonomous landscape of salvation.


This is a story about time and forgiveness.

I am erasing images, erasing history. I see eyes without faces, names without mouths, ears without gestures, hands without future.

There is no horizon, no ground, no sun, no surface, no streets, no sound.


Time runs backwards and forwards, expanding to build my present.

Memories will never be exhausted.

They can be covered or ignored, but they cannot be removed though.

They are my unbounded secrets.


The past is empty and the present, the here and now, is already irrevocable.

In the middle of the room there is still a hole.

I could name it hatred, aggression, onslaught or anger. I could name it moon, table, street, sky, surface, desert. I could name it horizon, ground, sun, tree, struggle. I could name it hope, desire, chair, freedom, flower.


In my head, rusty nails in constant movement.

I keep saying to myself: ‘I avoid fear by seeking security in isolation, by hiding from history and looking after myself.’

And then: ‘I always thought that there is no domination without the disastrous encounter with hoary images of decadence. Everything remains intact while incessantly falling apart’.


One room, four walls: I expect nothing to happen, beside the possibility of running away.

Someone finally opens the iron door, the clang clang of the key brings me back to the room. I lift up my eyes: a long shadow is projected on my body.

At the edge of forgetfulness, any affirmative action is useless.


Silence paves these moments with calculated coldness, without movement: I was expecting at least a gesture that could dissolve this anguish.

Not an act of love, no, I was not expecting affection that would take me, somehow, away from here.

Everything that has been said and done is suspended, indefinitely, on the threshold of indifference.

It is not the silence in itself I am afraid of: only necessity and devotion could nourish these implacable walls.


He stands in front of me, nervously whispering something I cannot understand. One word after another, no response. His voice comes from far away:

‘You are in a place where there is no sun, no desert, no streets, no water, no flowers.’

Then a question, maybe, I don’t know. I stare at the long shadow, lost in its shades of grey and light.


Other questions, other reasons. Pathetic. Feeble.

I can’t connect my mind with my body, no geographies of instinctual proximity, no possibilities of knowing the unknown.

I am completely senseless and frightened, those questions become memories of what might happen, tomorrow.



The shadow comes closer, I become weightless. The shadow touches my right arm and my head. I don’t even have tears to show that yes, I can survive.

I am beyond the limits of reason.


In the middle of the room, I am lying on the floor.

A stain surrounds my body, expanding irregularly. In this monochrome abyss, I am looking for some signs of reference.

The hole is gone, it dissipated through the walls and through darkness, exploding from within.

I close my eyes and finally the thick and choking darkness settles around me again.

I am afraid of no one.



The triumph of any return is a vision: who owns it?


Book concept and text Roberto Cavallini, Carla Esperanza Tommasini, Tuna Yilmaz

Images Elisa D’Ippolito