Francesco Perono Cacciafoco’s academic paper, Origini remote. Il caso delle “città d’ acqua”, di Olbicella e della radice *alb- informs us that:
“Paleo-Ligurian place-names of the type Alba, Old European river names Albis and the like, as well as their ablauting forms Olb- (> Orb- in Romance Ligurian) do not reflect directly Proto-Indo-European adjective *albho- ‘white’; rather, they all continue a Pre-PIE extended root *Hal-bh- ‘water’ cognate with Sumerian halbia (> Akkadian halpium ‘well, water mass, water hole’). A further analysis of *Hal-bh- leads to a comparison with PIE root *Hal- ‘nourish’. PIE suffixed form *HwaH-r ‘water’ exhibits a similar diffusion.”
In Romanian, one of the closest languages to vulgar Latin, we have the words ‘alb’ (white), ‘apa’ (water), ‘albie’ (riverbed), and ‘hali’ (eating in a rush), which is very interesting in relation to the above cited paper. Cucuteni Culture from the Neolithic pre-dates Sumerian settlements by at least 600 years, with pottery that introduces a distinct wave-like symbol which became known as an iconic Greek design. This Greek design was spotted in China and became the basis for the theory that Chinese and Greek cultures must have interacted in the ancient world.
By extension, ancient place-names like Alba can explain more about the identity of the mysterious “Alfar,” “Elves,” “Apkallu,” etc. – the initiates of old making various appearances in Irish monastic texts, likewise accompanied by distinct spiral symbolism. The assumption that their name means “white” stems from the idea that a singular “Proto-Indo-European language” must have existed (it is only a theoretical reconstruction); but by utilizing Cacciafoco’s linguistic study, we can glimpse the identity of the initiates is instead linked with water, fluidity, phasing (transitioning), clouds, and “shades of grey.” And this watery symbol was depicted as a Serpent, as sinuous waves. “The Serpents” was also a name by which initiates were known; they were driven to hide in the depths of uncharted forests and eventually disappear from Ireland – a feat celebrated by religious elites as “a victory over evil.” Yet in a few of those Irish texts, there is questioning as to the true nature of the Elves. Irish monks concluded that these beings are (in no uncertain terms) of both heaven and hell, but that their knowledge can only come from heaven, as heaven is what their knowledge creates. In other words, they are the people of the knowledge, which comes from heaven, through the Serpent. As for their appearance, it is that of the human being.
Discovering the ancient legacy encoded in cities I visited (architecture, sculptures, random associations of objects in shop windows, and other design details which the artist has placed there to communicate information) I became mistrustful of claims that esoteric knowledge is evil. Such claims only serve to keep humans ignorant and fearful of our own miraculous legacy. In creating this series, I was partly inspired by Aya Kato’s digital art collection dedicated to different cities: there, each city-entity is depicted as a darker fairy-tale female character, dressed up for a special occasion.
1. One Thousand and One Nights. Charcoal. An unknown city lost to the desert, described in medieval times as containing miracles and wonders such as ghostly images inviting you to discover the city, and metal horses that could be unlocked with a key and take you flying towards the sun.
2. The Rain Curtain. Pastels. The statue of Freddie Mercury in Montreux, overlooking the water. In funerary monumental art, freezing an action into stillness is called “the working soul.” The name Alps is in reference to the white-capped mountains, but according to an online documentary to do with career paths and the overall mental switch that happened at the end of the last millennium towards more ecological enterprises, it is the dwellings of the Alfar that are supposed to be remembered through the name.
3. Broken Toy. Pencil. Toy shops are usually a magical feature of every city, one of those things that take me back to fairy tales about Dwarves and their crafty skills. However, this time by drawing the now-silent musical toy, I explored the feeling of guilt that arose in childhood whenever I broke a toy – a symbol of absolute passivity – by acting out negative emotions of rage which arose from being an “empathetic” passive receptor with no voice of my own. Another version of this was me destroying children’s books.
4. Amor contemplative. Ink on paper. A drawing of Michelangelo’s Pietà at the Vatican. The mythology surrounding “a family of royal blood, born of a virgin (fairy)” is much older, found at the origin of fairy tales dated around 8,000 years ago; this family is not something that was hidden about the life of Jesus to preserve his (intriguingly self-made) status of supernatural virgin-born god. The stories of the Flood, the Ark, the Rainbow Contract, and the Garden of Eden are one single event, which associates this family with water (the Serpent) as their element, raining down from the skies. Their existence is knit with the Gnostic revelation (“the true source of the Light inside Adam’s body”), so the question which has stumped schools of philosophy throughout history is whether the People of the Water were born as a result of ignorance, or awareness of the Light.
5. The Road to Atlantis. Photograph. A shop window in Budapest, Hungary.