Almost eleven years ago i saw Venice for the first time, in a hasty couple of hours stop on the way to France. It was late October and no tourists waves. The ténébreux air of the city stroke with its power to ingest one in its convoluted structure. This initial impact adhered to my memory and spurred me to return someday.
I´m glad we did, Venice was yet another. One smothered by masses of tourists. One robbed of its concealed shades and privacy. In the middle of the crowd, through the thicket of “selfie-sticks” and suitcases, grasping scenes of daily life – like a grandmother guiding the granddaughter on the ancient steps, a man in white scrub greeting his wife and kid on the stairs of the pharmacy, people walking by carefully to avoid the strident groups of holidaymakers, are strangely moving. The abruptness and asynchrony between the two worlds, within the narrow public spaces is painfully disconcerting.
Together, my boyfriend and i, we had to choose from the many spots of the city we wished to visit and managed to find our way on foot. There are certain images, figures, tones and scents with whom one place resonates. We stopped at first to the Gallerie dell´Accademia to sense the nuances of the Venetian Renaissance and Mannerism.
The Feast in the House of Levi, Paolo Veronese, 1573, 555 cm × 1,280 cm, oil on canvas, Gallerie dell´Accademia, Venice
Vecchia, Giorgione, 1506, 68×59, oil on canvas, Gallerie dell´Accademia, Venice
It is prodigious to lay eyes on Veronese´s “Feast in the House of Levi” – a work commissioned for the Basilica di Santi Giovanni e Paolo and also target for accusations of heresy under the Roman Catholic Inquisition. As it is singular to see in depth the layers of Giorgione´s canvas.
We came across, on our way back and entered to the Music Museum – an exhibition dedicated to “liuteria” – the making of instruments – throughout the ´700 epoch.
Next day, another visit was to the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, to see Tintoretto´s most poignant in situ masterpiece. The ceilings and walls in Sala Capitolare and in Sala dell´Albergo depict scenes of the biblical saga from Fall to Redemption. They were executed by Jacopo Comin / known as Jacopo Robusti, often called Il Furioso and consecrated to the art history as Tintoretto, between 1564 and 1590.
Roughly 1270 years before that, in 303 AD, Diocletian was issuing the edicts against all Christians clergy. Less than a decade after that episode, Constantine the Great converts himself to the new religion and makes it soon after to the official cult in the Empire. In 1440 the Gutenberg press was to change radically the way the (sacred) image was communicated to the masses. The thoughts that came to mind while watching cardinal scenes of the genesis of our culture, were straightaway related to the making of the image – in its intimate process and as a fundamental apparatus – code of signs – to the transmission and perpetration of a culture.
To paraphrase Sartre who dedicated many pages to Le Tintoret, we´re in the heart of an “evolution which was to substitute everywhere the profane to sacred: the various branches of the human activity arose one after the other from the promiscuous vicinity to God”(J.-P. Sartre in Le Séquestré de Venise…)
Wandering off into the city streets with lingering odours of seaweed, moor, fish and muddy waters, staring at the blooming glycines and spotting shrouded little pearls of minimalist graffiti, we were too late for Peggy Guggenheim…
The day before we left Venice we stumbled upon “Acqua Alta”, the dreary bookstore where books come to die a sullen, miserable, slow death. Bound together and used as walls and stairs, in the inner patios, facing rain and winds – the perfunctory dystopian place lures queues of tourists… The flamboyance is atrocious for one who esteems the paper medium and, on a dissociate note, inciting to dust off old reads on the subject, from McLuhan´s “Gutenberg Galaxy” to Derrida´s “Of Grammatology”, going through Ed Ruscha…
Lavish we did also, on the Venetian cuisine. “Nero di seppia” was on the menu and naturally, the debonair Aperol spritz. I say, So long and thanks for all the fish…
© Photos Mogosanu/Poppmann 2017