Images, images, images

Dreams are the only jungle left for animals. In the real world we do not offer them much choice: when we are not killing them to eat them, we do so for fun. And those we keep by our side we treat like a king treats his jesters. However, when the night falls, animals take their centuries-old revenge; their victims are our weakness: children, our puppies.

Images! Images! Images! Countless times I have asked myself where the multitude of scenes that tumultuously inhabit my dreams come from. Because in everyday life I never saw anything resembling those dream images. Images that tormented my childhood, turning my nights into a succession of nightmares. They convinced me I was different from my peers: an unnatural and cursed creature.

Reading Alejandro Rodríguez León’s book (how nice, a legible artist’s book) I recalled the words that open Jack London’s Before Adam, which speaks of a remote time when we were all more or less refined animals. The conquest of the human condition took us a long way. Did we dream back then? Were our dreams human? Did we become human thanks to dreams?

The images fabricated by Alejandro are fragments that go beyond the paper. As with good books, they allow readers to take part. The images are full of lines, lines, lines that capture an instant of movement, and something else that a polaroid or a digital camera will never catch and which we could only translate as voices and smells. One cannot tell an animal’s story without describing its smell, its combination of smells. This is a privilege that belongs to the engraver, because the wood he uses comes directly from the primeval forest.

Estaba comiendo a un niño (I Was Eating a Child) is a bestiary, that is, one of those books through which men try to classify and understand the world, and if they serve any purpose, it is especially to spur our fantasy. It can also be read as a collection of votive offerings: these images we produce with magical intention to express our gratitude and bafflement at the miracle of life, threatened by constant dangers. If I offer myself in a portrait to a tiger that wants to devour me, the tiger, satisfied, will let me go.

Vicente Ferrer

Text for a triptych for the presentation of Alejando Rodríguez León’s woodcut book Estaba comiendo a un niño, a project based on children’s dreams collected by Roger Omar and published by the artist in 2005 with a print run of 15 numbered copies. Image: two pages of the open book.