Albow Gardens

alessandro iovino

2018 - 2020

When I found Albow Gardens I wasn't looking for anything specific, I was in South Africa in Cape Town by accident and I was just looking for some serenity. I was in one of those dark times that often happens to me, where I no longer see a goal, the unit of measurement that I feel most familiar with and that I use to measure the things of life, without it I feel still. I think I embodied my mother in a lot of the things I do.

I ran into its fence by accident, then I saw Natty sweeping the leaves off the yard, she had short poppy hair and a friendly face, she looked at me and told me to not come in but she spoke to me sweetly, it seemed enough to me.

Albow Gardens was born in the midst of that confusion, between my inert thoughts and a diligent body, I could not say exactly what brought me there, in that place that seemed so disconnected from me. I think I just saw a place to start, a door to open. I think that’s how it all started.

I spent a lot of time in Albow Gardens, more time than I’ve ever spent elsewhere. I felt I had two lives, one inside and one outside the fence, when the life outside did not work then I would escape in the other, often at the home of Cecil and Bianca, I liked to sit on their couch and know that there was no need to say too many words. Meeting Cecil's family was one of those special chance encounters we get only a few of in a lifetime. The days were monotonous, there wasn't much going on and the TV was always on, but I liked to know that things never changed. I was often bored, but up until then, I was terrified of boredom. When I was inside I felt like I was building something important for me.

For a long time I didn’t know what Albow Gardens meant to me, why I spent so much time with Cecil and Bianca and their children. Then we have fought, I betrayed them and I was pushed away, I felt very sad about that.

The idea of never being able to go back to Albow Gardens freaked me out.

I think I have always run in my life, I understand today that I wasn't running but rather escaping, from my family and myself.

Albow Gardens didn’t care much about why I was there or where I came from, it opened its doors to me and never dressed up as anything else, I was afraid of so much honesty, but then I realized that I wanted to be like him too.

After working in Albow Gardens on this project, I now find it very difficult to make other work of a documentary nature, it is hard for me to find the intimacy I need. This is due to the total giving and open nature of these people. I feel I just can't push the subjective documentary thing any further with anyone else.

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