PERPENDICOLARE AL SOLE by Valentine Cuny-Le Callet

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Valentine is just of age when she writes to Renaldo McGirth for the first time. She is a French student dreaming of becoming an illustrator and he is a twenty-eight-year-old man, imprisoned since 2008 on death row in a Florida penitentiary. They share a passion for drawing and an obstinate desire to find traces of humanity and beauty even where they are denied, even within the five square meters of a cell.
It is the beginning of a deep friendship and, at the same time, a visual narrative that proceeds by mixing styles and techniques, private discourse and historical and political inquiry. The origins of a brutal system thus resurface from the darkest pages of American history, from slavery to the lynching of people of color, without forgetting the exemplary figures who fought against racial discrimination throughout the twentieth century.

In her first book, gathering and organizing years of correspondence, Cuny-Le Callet manages to combine activism and aesthetic research into one, filling her pages with love and respect. Each mark arises from a desire for dialogue, which immediately engages in a deep reflection on the meaning and possibilities of artistic creation. What is right to represent? And in what way?

In the exchange, Valentine’s meticulous visual constructions sometimes give way to Renaldo’s more instinctive drawings, created with the few means permitted by the prison and constantly threatened by the prison’s obtuse censorship.

“Perpendicular to the Sun” lives by its refusal to succumb to despair and by the effort to keep looking towards the light, however little there may be, as it is all the more necessary.

Text by Alessio Trabacchini

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