In a series of black and white negatives shot in the dark of Winter in Nova Scotia, Robert Frank scratched the phrase:
sick of goodbys.
Once he printed the negatives he hung the photographs with pegs — like washing — on an outside clothesline.
Now that I’m back at the Monastery of Saint Georgios, at Mavrovouni*, I recall how ordinary both the photographs and their accompanying text seemed when I saw them 30 years ago… but not now, I’m getting sick of goodbyes, too:
goodbye to Pavli, who was killed in the Turkish invasion of 1974 —
goodbye to aunt Maroulla, who at 84 has to live with a crumbling
memory — and maybe
goodbye to Simeon, the Elder at the monastery, who is being
treated for bowel cancer
* The Monastery of Saint Georgios at Mavrovouni (Greek: Μονή του Αγίου Γεωργίου Μαυροβουνίου) in the district of Larnaca, Cyprus, was built on the ruins of a 12th Century Byzantine church. Now there are the sounds of the 6 monks chanting, talking, going about their allotted tasks, the bells and the worshipers. The monastery is cradled in a valley. On the dry, brown hills behind the monastery is a military checkpoint. There is razor wire, guard dogs, military vehicles and Greek Cypriot conscripts with automatics yelling instructions to each other. Across from these young men is a no-man’s land, mined and barren. And on the opposite hills there are Turkish-Cypriot soldiers carrying automatics, in guard towers, yelling at each other behind the razor wire. A white helicopter with its blue UN markings monitors the zone between the two checkpoints. This is the green line. Some distance away, in front of the monastery, there is a bitumen road; and across from it there is a mine which produces the pigment, umber. The story goes that Vermeer insisted on Cypriot umber for his shadow areas. Around the mine there is a processing plant and heavy industrial equipment. So within this small space there are three distinct zones: the military, the spiritual and the commercial, and all three span huge chunks of time.