Corner Landscapes

Corner Landscapes

Imagining Arancha Goyeneche’s Landscapes


Certain gestures become habits by dint of sheer repetition and settle into everyday rituals that fill out our day-to-day existence. I’m thinking of things like looking out a recently washed window, how our vision cuts through the pane of glass, seeing what awaits us so that we can prepare ourselves to confront it, to organize ourselves in one sense or another for what is to come, to be ready for it.

I have always taken a look outside before starting out on a new day, and not merely to check the weather, for which we have more than enough information from other sources, but to observe the subtle changes in the surrounding landscape which, though always the same, is always different in its details and seasonal shifts, in its colouring and its mise en scènes throughout the passing of sunny, rainy or blizzardy months, its sad landscapes as dusk begins to fall, or shiny at twilight …always the same yet always different.

The habit was most likely formed in my childhood years and thanks to the wide open views from my home. It is something I tried to find in the first places I lived in after moving to the city to go to college. For me it was a vital necessity, probably similar to someone who has lived by the sea and misses the sense of knowing that it is there, close at hand, something that lends a certain character to a place and to its people, a whole world that is difficult to shrug off.

Nonetheless, over the last few months, and due to reasons of work, I have been forced to give it up and to live in an impersonal, characterless dwelling for which I feel no sense of belonging. I am just another person sharing the same courtyard where all the neighbours hang out our washing, penned in by the four walls of neighbouring buildings around a square yard as high as the buildings themselves. All I see from my window are the corners of the once white adjoining walls whose only adornment is chipped plaster, peeling paint and damp spots, to which the light filters down from above yet without allowing a view of where the walls end and the sky begins, walls hurriedly and sloppily finished by careless workers, surely rushing off to the next site lined up, unable or unwilling to finish the job properly, relying on paint just as sloppily applied to disguise the defects.
All the same, I still look out the window in the morning and, little by little, I have become used to every little accident on the two walls meeting in the corner. I have gradually recognised form in their irregularities and discovered the subtle nuances and variations discernible in the plaster, in the same way that I was able to sense the minute changes in open landscapes. The light that bears down vertically colours them in a spectrum of tones—rainy blues, sunny yellows, twilight oranges, winter cavities, mouldy autumnal greens, dusky violets, blacks that never quite make it, morning navy blues, a whole gamut like a sample card that has brought back to me the gesture and the habit of the twilight brown and the snow white, the greys ranging from turquoise to earthy.

The initially temporary dwelling gradually becomes more permanent. New tasks and goals crop up to which I try to respond by putting on my best face, trying not to think too much about what one supposes to have left behind and what awaits in front of us. Meanwhile, I become skilled in recognising new states in the landscapes that extend behind the walls and that I no longer need to visualise, now that I have them on the retina reflected on the wall. And furthermore, I have discovered new horizons, new landscapes enabled by the light, by the shadows proper to a city, when the day vanishes and nocturnal light and movement tinge the walls. Idealised images belonging to our imaginary, thanks to having contemplated them a thousand and one times in the films of our memory, when black and white gave us the necessary leeway in our heads to colour them in: images of decadent sordid neighbourhoods and dwellings that promised adventure and sophistication, full of villains and characters of dubious reputation, cityscapes we dared to enter and wanted to be part of.

Boarding house red, restaurant yellow, club green, slot machine violet, bar orange, hundreds of colours projected on the corner of the courtyard, accompanied by sounds, faraway music that fills in for the birds and the wind, traffic and the day-to-day coming and going.

Plunging into these depths, expanding my radius of operations, I came across a huge plastic sheeting covering the scaffolding of a building site next to where I am living now—I hope not for long. The sheeting fulfils a twofold function, on one hand safeguarding the workers from prying eyes and, on the other, avoiding unfortunate accidents of any kind that could happen in the public space. The enormous blue expanse is dotted with shiny pockets and contrasts caused by the light falling on the creased plastic, an immense ocean that is faraway yet near at hand, sky blue and neon blue, copper blue, deep blue, golden blue and iridescent blue, greenish blue and yellowish blue, pale blue and white in all their spectrums, at times with the workers resembling deep-sea creatures moving in the depths.

Every day I discover new landscapes, and each one of them enriches the memory of others stored away for ever. I have grown used to these new views and am gradually losing the need to return to all those I have left behind me.
The odd time I lower my eyes and look from above, as if recognising places would allow me to fly over them and see them from other perspectives.