placards, cerebria

“we intone your scripts,
hold them close in our hearts” – sailors’ ode

A folio of 14 images, with accompanying scriptural fragments, relating to placards and signs from the realm of cerebria. The works are from 2021. Archival prints are available up to A2 size.

Here is a clavis, or key, to the realm of cerebria.

Many of these works use background images by Max Hutzel (1911-1988), who photographed in Italy from the early 1960s until his death. The result of this exhaustive and elegant project (over 72,000 images) was referred to by Hutzel as Foto Arte Minore – a documentation of art historical developments in Italy up to the 18th century.

1. unborn


1In our town there is a doorway blocked by a placard that reads “UNBORN”. 2We believe it to have been placed there by a diviner. 3It is said to refer to now, rather than any earlier time.

2. bask


1Once, four sailors walked near one of our repurposed places of worship and saw that “BASK” had been written upon it. 2The first sailor doubted that this was a word. 3The second thought it was, and that it reminded him not to over-work, and to bask in the sun. 4The third said that it had been written by a diviner and that it was a reminder of the sailors’ main task. 5The fourth remained silent.

3. wisdom of the ages

wisdom of the ages

1It has been recorded that the three visiting voids said: “The wisdom of the ages is written on our skins”. 2We find this same text emblazoned on some habitations we reuse for our worship.

4. primordial edicts

primordial edicts

1In the beginning the three visiting voids gave the primordial edicts. 2These dour siblings spoke the edicts and our diviners wrote them down. 3We sailors petition the diviners for the edicts. 4Though they cannot now be spoken, there are references to the edicts in the crypts of our realm. 5The edicts were wordless texts of wisdom and that is why we say they were spoken by voids of valence.

5. canyon of dark repose

canyon of dark repose

1Atop a hill near our town lies the ruin of a pagan place of worship. 2Under this hill lies our canyon, the canyon of dark repose, to which placards point the way. 3Dark breath emanates from the mouth of this canyon and presages the atmosphere within. 4Courageous sailors, venturing far into the canyon, attest to its designation.

6. cave sopor et focus familiaris

cave sopor et focus familiaris

1A sailor chanced upon a derelict building. 2Overcome by malaise, he yet felt compelled to explore the building, for he had an intuition that it contained valuable texts amongst the detritus of an early and repressive age. 3A sign on the building read “CAVE SOPOR ET FOCUS FAMILIARIS”, which meant “Beware of sleep and the family hearth”. 4The sailor fell to his knees and exhorted the three voids to watch over him as he explored the building. 5He feared that once inside he might not be able to retrace his steps and find his way back.

7. way to the snow mother

way to the snow mother

1It is reported that the snow mother offered three kinds of provision to sailors passing through our alpine town of agalia. 2The first was a rich and hearty vegetarian stew. 3The second was a dry non-food wafer. 4The third was a sacred prostitute. 5Sailors in our hanging valleys set up signs showing the way to the snow mother.

8. incomparable triviality

incomparable triviality

1The same four sailors who had encountered the word “BASK” visited the snow mother. 2She was holding audience in a disused crypt in our alpine town agalia. 3On the wall behind the sailors she had written “INCOMPARABLE TRIVIALITY OF OUR AFFAIRS ON THE EXQUISITE TERRIBLE MOTE OUR EARTH”. 4The sailors bowed their heads in reverence. 5The tops of their hats were faced with a yellow fabric.

9. acanui fluens, acanui stans

acanui fluens, acanui stans

1In her store in the alpine town of agalia, the snow mother offers provisions to passing pilgrims. 2This store was once a place of worship for the bureaucratic sect that ruled in our realm. 3Now she supplies pilgrims – diviners and sailors – on their journeys to the black rock and the snow-covered peaks of our land. 4The snow mother stocks placards, highly sought after by diviners in their arcane pursuits. 5A placard she once had said “acanui fluens, acanui stans”, and this referred to two different yet potentially concurrent experiences of the child-goddess acanui.

10. where the dark winds ever blow

where the dark winds ever blow

1Far beyond agalia, on a high saddle, there is a place that sailors come to. 2Deeply wearied by their journey, and only partly aware of the reason for their travel, they pause on this saddle and eat provisions purchased from the snow mother. 3Invariably they become aware of dark winds that blow incessantly over the saddle. 4The winds chill them, yet they become further intent upon their pilgrimage. 5A placard at the saddle reads “WHERE THE DARK WINDS EVER BLOW”.

11. kenotic


1There is a mountain pass by which our sailors must journey. 2Some sailors have seen acanui there, in her fleeting, or fluens, form. 3One said she trailed a placard reading “kenotic”.

12. exile


1On his journey in the alpine region of cerebria, a sailor became disoriented. 2He took a path that led to a place cleared of snow. 3Here was a shelter, built in a time of obscurity. 4On the shelter was painted the word “EXILE”.

13. puella hic erat

“nuanced glittered luminous
clouded lunar feigned” – nocturne (for acanui)

puella hic erat

1At the edge of the mountain village of agalia, near a straggle of houses, is a slope where inhabitants say they, one night, glimpsed acanui. 2The moon was full, and she was about her business, fluens. 3And now on other nights when the moon is full these inhabitants have intimations of her presence. 4They speak of this to journeying sailors. 5And they raise a placard reading “PUELLA HIC ERAT”, meaning “The young girl was here”. 6A diviner has written a nocturne for her.

14. shied, abjured

“look for me in your next breath or your last”
acanui speaks (after thunder perfect mind)

shied, abjured

1Acanui, in doorways, glimpsed then gone. 2Waif-form ever moving.
3Adept of elisions. 4But for the curious, unseen. 5Bereft, by losing all knows the vessel of all. 6In windows of a shopfront in agalia, placards reading “SHIED” and “ABJURED” were raised to her.

“how acanui is an unmoving pivot,
a weight that perpetually swings” – bridge to enchantment

1. unborn – digital painting / photomontage, background from “Lazio–Roma–Subiaco–Sacro Speco, Image 128”.
2. bask – digital painting / photomontage, background from “Campania–Caserta–Caserta–Palazzo Reale, Image 13”.
3. wisdom of the ages – digital painting / photomontage, background from “Abruzzo–Alanno–Madonna delle Grazie, Image 8”.
4. primordial edicts – digital painting / photomontage, background from “Campania–Caserta–Santa Maria Capua Vetere–Mitreo, Image 33”.
5. canyon of dark repose – digital painting / photomontage, background from “Sardinia–Sassari–Ardara–S. Antioco di Bisarcio, Image 1”.
6. cave sopor et focus familiaris – digital painting / photomontage, background from Abruzzo–L’Aquila–Fossa–Monastery of S. Spirito d’Ocre, Image 2.
7. way to the snow mother – digital painting, from sixteenth abidance.
8. incomparable triviality – digital painting / photomontage, background from “Umbria–Perugia–Schifanoia–S. Michele Arcangelo, Image 21”.
9. acanui fluens, acanui stans – digital painting / photomontage, background from “Lazio–Viterbo–Nepi–Oratorio di S. Biagio, Image 13”.
10. where the dark winds ever blow – digital painting, from fifteenth abidance.
11. kenotic – digital painting, from seventeenth abidance
12. exile – digital painting / photomontage, background from second abidance
13. puella hic erat – digital painting
14. shied, abjured – digital painting, detail from fifteenth abidance.
(Background images in Nos. 1 – 6, 8 and 9 are from Max Hutzel, 1960 – 1990, credit Getty Open Content Program.)