Anochecer [Dusk]

First published in Spanish in Medardo Rosso, Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, [cat.exh], pp. 250-251
Also published in English as Dusk in Juan Muñoz, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. in association with The Art Institute of Chicago [cat.exh], 2001, p. 80


Allow me an image. The image of an inaccessible moment. It is dusk. A seated man, slightly bent over a table, is writing. Hours have passed; the light coming through the window has crossed the table and reached the floor. The furnished room grows darker and darker, and the words the man writes, once he inscribes them on the paper, already seem remote. The image he is writing about is a face that observes the room through a curtain. No shoulders, no arms. Actually, not a real face. Just a slight pressure pressed on wax. A face in waiting, timeless, tilted to one side in the dark. The minutes pass, and the meager light in the room fuses with the shadow. The light in the room is faint. The man writes, and as he writes, an invisible grayness slowly covers the table. The man grows impatient and, as the moments pass, thinks there will not be enough time to finish before both the room and the paper will become too dark. From time to time, when he tries to reread his own writing, it seems that some of the words have dissolved in the gray of the paper. Even so, he can still understand them. He feels he is wandering. As he goes on writing and looks back at what he has written, he senses there are more sentences that are incomprehensible than sentences he can decipher. The man is within himself. When he comes outside to read what he has written, he finds it difficult to make out the shapes on the paper. Words that evoke something, a face, a shadow. Perhaps a shadow or a face that evokes a word. The ink that draws the sentences merges imperceptively with the darkening gray of the paper. The man looks toward the window and tries to imagine that moment when the pressure of a thumb shapes a hollow which is also an eyelid. When the edge of the mouth is indistinguishable from the lips, when the forehead does not meet the eyebrow. Everything happens within. The man writes quickly, believing that the best words are those worn away at the edges. He searches for expressions that have linguistic form and can describe the form of a cheekbone. From within the shadows and the writing, he thinks he recognizes a face that immediately disappears.

He pauses for a moment and imagines that if the turned on the light, he would have to decipher the meaning of the sentences he wrote barely half an hour ago, sentences coming one after another that he has forgotten. He is surprised to observe that on one of the sheets of paper, where there is an “o” and an “i”, he finds an “r” and a titled “e.” He is surprised because he does not remember writing the sentence that surrounds the word, and now, in the half light, he cannot make it out. He waits a moment and writes two almost identical sentences. Barely seeing them, he draws a line through both. He goes on smiling, thinking how he will be able to write something very quickly about something very mute. The man leans back in his chair thinking about the moment when the light was a bridge almost imperceptibly crossing the room, the light which has now gone. While staring at the table, the man falls asleep. After a while, he awakens to the sound of his daughter and a friend playing at the other end of the hall. The entire room is dark. The man turns on a lamp. He looks at the pages on the table and thinks he should write the text he promised to write about Medardo Rosso.