"Time & Life" / David Ostrowski, Magnus Frederik Clausen
28 May – 1 Aug, 2021
Via Cremona 115
© David Ostrowski
Courtesy Sprüth Magers
© Magnus Frederik Clausen
Courtesy Jir Sandel
All of us have to learn how to invent our lives, make them up, imagine them. Ursula K. Le Guin
It’s something unpredictable / But in the end it’s right / I hope you had the time of your life. Green Day
At the end of first grade, my parents enrolled me in a four-week long summer camp in the Alps, not far from Brescia. The camp was organised by the parish to which my great-aunt, a nun, was in those days attached. In suburban Northern Italy, the church still plays a fundamental role in the community’s social life, with the “oratorio” acting as the primus motus for a significant number of sports and cultural arrangements. Or, at least, this is how I remember it from my childhood.
Praying hour was scheduled each morning after breakfast and each afternoon before supper. The evening session was the hardest, as it came after a long day out in the woods, usually spent on hikes that, in my memory, were incredibly lengthy and physically exhausting. Once, we got caught by a hail storm on our way back, and we had to run towards our refuge while pellets the size of ping-pong balls made the mountain slope so slippery, that we all got home covered in mud.
The priest in charge of the colony was a towering man, with a thick reddish beard and a deep voice, wearing cargo shorts in all weather conditions. His ribbed socks were a bright kind of light blue, and I soon realised that I could use them to force myself to remain focussed, or even awake, while saying the rosary. Every time the verse “Our Father, who art in heaven” came, I stared at them and imagined the priest as God, chilling in an infinite sky tinted with the exact same shade of his knee-highs.
On my return, my grandma was curious to hear about my adventures. Was the food good? Were my fellows nice? Had I learned something new? “Yes, I did!”, I shrieked with enthusiasm. I still recall her expression - a mix of terror and entertainment - while she listened to me proudly singing a number of dirty rhymes, one after another, in a slang between the Italian language and the Lombard dialect. The other kids used to sing them in the darkness of the dormitory after bedtime or in the back seats of the tourist bus that would drive us to more distant destinations.
Her embarrassed chuckle and firm invitation to stop made me understand that something was wrong, but I wasn’t provided with any further explanation. Only some years later did I come to discern the half-hidden sexual references in the content of what, at the time, I had learned by heart and with no comprehension whatsoever.