Armin Greder, The City
Published 2010 by Allen & Unwin, 32p
Armin Greder’s The City appeals to all senses and breaks conventions.
In a distant country where winter would sometimes last three years, in a big city, there lived a woman who had a beautiful son. Contrary to all expectations, considering the theme, there is nothing poetic or idyllic in the visual and narrative discourse.
When her husband died in the war, the woman promised herself to spare the baby of all the terrible things that happen in life so she left the city for a solitary existence in a wasted land. Isolation brought the woman happiness. She saw threat in every human contact so when some travelers became lost and asked for directions she could only feel a deeper and desperate need of protecting her child.
Reality is distorted; we can feel not the joy of life but the woman’s melancholy and pain. More than a story of events, The City is an expressionist drama, an exploration of feelings. The mother’s over protectiveness transcends the conventional and the morality. The child is forbidden his own navigation through life until one moonless night when his mother died.
For a long time he kept looking at her. At her eyes that were no longer on him. At her naked feet. At her still hands. At her closed mouth which refused to tell him what should be done now.
In a slow process, facing his own fears and insecurity, discovering his inner world and all the caged desires, the boy commenced a journey of reaching the essential. He buried his mother and left for the city.
The dark and funereal illustrations depict a world overwhelmed by emotions. The City is a modern fable on the effort of growing, of way finding. There is the struggle of the mother to let her child go and the extraordinary effort of the child to find his social and moral development.
Complement your reading on Armin Greder with a story approaching fears, xenophobia and human rights.