On Max Crow Reeves’ MAPA (Marseilles – Arles – Paris – Auvers-sur-Oise) Entropy Books 2021
The Argus Panoptes in myth is a multi-eyed monster.
In his new book Max Reeves’ lens is a black bird charting its course
Across France. From Marseilles to Arles, to Paris to Auvers-sur-Oise
His gaze captures; street scenes, art’s full moment and images
To make closed eyes dance. But Max Reeves’ REMs are shutter clicks
That carve chaos; the kind that exists not in ferment, or, torment, too,
Come to that, but in the sly tear that builds behind a shining gaze
That seems golden, but which soon admits cause and colour.
By lifting each view from the flat. From an opening shot of glimpsed,
Near savage Gods between leaves, Reeves and his partner Samanta Bellotta
Chase Artaud, whose own quest beside madness across these depicted lands
Now combines, with inspiration from Jean-Michel Atlan’s painting Ba’al Guerrier
And Reeves’ previous Bethlem Hospital Exhibition, as he photographs the connections
Between jewish suffering spirits and the trials Van Gogh suffered in league
With Antonin’s challenged mind. Here, in this book, the images appear sharper,
Than those of before: Max’s Mirkwood and I Remember a White Cat In Tangier
Contained night. But across sun stung days these photographs bare the imprint
Of the irreality Artaud carried into his writing and tourtured, stumbling walks
Between light. In Max’s Marseilles walks steps are speared. Boats are spume.
A crucifix crowd claims the city. The pure blue of summer and the blessing
Of sun make things calm. And yet Reeves’ keen lens is prodding both skin
And surface to interrogate image and in the most considered of ways
Stoke alarm. A Star of David is scratched. A bark is skull, scorched by sunlight.
Spew on the ceiling is mirroring over a girl. A small ship sails on blurred air.
There is an African woman and Rimbaud. Homeless men warp before us
As each photograph captures the somewhat suffering viewpoint
Of Ba’al’s jews, and Artaud, falling fast out of focus and rhythm step
With the world. Reeves’pictures are art. Make no mistake, free of genre.
And medium, also, as he roves, he flies through these streets.
We see Artaud’s bronzed head on a swan. A poster of crows. Ghost graffitti.
A Jerusalem ramp. Every picture makes the Argus Panoptes stare
More complete. In Arles, we catch a swelter of horses, bars, stone,
And Vincent Van Gogh in a bedsit. Trees as thought stemmed from statues
As they gaze up towards cloud. Farmhouse and flower. Shadow. And a side
Of meat with bone baby, like a pearl in flesh featured, granted to skin raw
And ready for when a prize like this is allowed. In Paris, a Nokia Rimbaud
On a wall and a man who could be Giacometti is caught on a corner.
The accusatory glare of a statue against a curtain of night and dark park.
Artaud’s alley. Wall stains that echo vaginas. A Neil Young like tramp
In Pink Beret. Atlan’s grave. Cloud’s grey mark. Reeves’ signature crows,
And what looks like sex on a tombstone. Satre and De Beauvoir, dead
But together and in loving repose close to this. Reeves chases graves.
They are forms of library for him. In photographing their markings
He is reading the lines the ground prints. For death still publishes the lives
Of those held within it. Especially if they are artists or writers. And so,
Here in these pictures their uncompleted work finishes.
A church is depicted, then sketched. A window becomes a fused painting.
A close up Crow soon commands us, as more fenestrations astound.
Walls weep through change that MAPA charts so completely. A typewriter
Stalls in the writing as a Sculptors touch and room stays unfound.
Wine is cupped. Hands reflect as the train is freed from the station,
And Max and Sam travel still further out from the source. Artaud’s ghost
Haunts this book as Max’s madness map cures and colours and in Auvers-sur-Oise,
A wall mural, ‘Vincents’ to show what endures. For suffering always comes
After the most vivid of visions. Such as those Artaud stared through as he dried
Across the temperature of neglect.Which can blow hot and cold. You can feel
Those airs through these photos. A bottle skies. Leaves stains pavement.
Thus, Max Reeves trains perception to never second guess or expect.
A homeless man becomes stone. Security cameras find portent.
With juxtaposed oil thick flowers we get to see Vincent’s grave. All this
And Antonin’s tomb. Alongside Tristan Tzara’s. Charles Baudelaire, too,
Long ground published and then Man Ray soft earth saved. And Susan Sontag
In sun as the memorial myth speaks through pictures which this seminal guide
Now provides us, as these lines as looks conclude the map’s made.
Reeves is a true travel guide for us all and for all of us who can’t travel.
He sees without stalling. He looks both beneath and above. And in framing all
Perhaps pictures as much as John Berger. High praise indeed. Read and reach it.
For here in these journeys and in this soul stained steals, there is love.
David Erdos March 17th 2021