Atlas (Photography)

Atlas

by Mélanie Desriaux

From Diaries 1914–1923, by Franz Kafka (trans. Martin Greenberg):

June 25, 1914. I paced up and down my room from early morning until twilight. The window was open, it was a warm day. The noises of the narrow street beat in uninterruptedly. By now I knew every trifle in the room from having looked at it in the course of my pacing up and down. My eyes had traveled over every wall. I had pursued the pattern of the rug to its last convolution, noted every mark of age it bore. My fingers had spanned the table across the middle many times. I had already bared my teeth repeatedly at the picture of the landlady’s dead husband.

Toward evening I walked over to the window and sat down on the low sill. Then, for the first time not moving restlessly about, I happened calmly to glance into the interior of the room and at the ceiling. And finally, finally, unless I were mistaken, this room which I had so violently upset began to stir. The tremor began at the edges of the thinly plastered white ceiling. Little pieces of plaster broke off and with a distinct thud fell here and there, as if at random, to the floor. I held out my hand and some plaster fell into it too; in my excitement I threw it over my head into the street without troubling to turn around. The cracks in the ceiling made no pattern yet, but it was already possible somehow to imagine one. But I put these games aside when a bluish violet began to mix with the white; it spread straight out from the center of the ceiling, which itself remained white, even radiantly white, where the shabby electric lamp was stuck. Wave after wave of the color—or was it a light?—spread out toward the now darkening edges. One no longer paid any attention to the plaster that was falling away as if under the pressure of a skillfully applied tool. Yellow and golden-yellow colors now penetrated the violet from the side. But the ceiling did not really take on these different hues; the colors merely made it somewhat transparent; things striving to break through seemed to be hovering above it, already one could almost see the outlines of a movement there, an arm was thrust out, a silver sword swung to and fro. It was meant for me, there was no doubt of that; a vision intended for my liberation was being prepared.


Born in 1981 in La Rochelle, Mélanie Desriaux lives and works in Paris. She graduated from the School of Fine Arts (Rennes, France, 2006), and completed the Higher Competitive Exam in Education and the Visual Arts, with Photography as a major subject (Aix-en-Provence, France, 2010). Mélanie Desriaux now shows her work in France and abroad. From 2006 to 2012, she exhibited her work at Le Radar Gallery (Bayeux, France), Art & Essai Gallery (University of Rennes 2, France), and the Federal University of Bahia, Brazil. Her photographs of the prison of Saint-Martin (Ré island, France) were selected by Carceropolis and are regularly published by the Prison International Observatory. In 2015, she won a scholarship for a wandering photographic tour in the United States. A year later, she was selected by Pascal Amoyel to exhibit her work on the Oregon Trail in Bowen Island (Vancouver, Canada) for FotoFilmic // PULP Gallery & Store. Her work is published by C41 and Camera Infinita, among other outlets. Visit her website here.