Return to Venice

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.

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IMG_5056          The Feast in the House of Levi, Paolo Veronese, 1573, 555 cm × 1,280 cm, oil on canvas, Gallerie dell´Accademia, Venice

IMG_5025         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.

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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…

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#Exit/Enter, Venice, Italy

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

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Dresden, 34. Deutscher Kunsthistorikertag and Studio Visit at HfBK

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2017 started with exciting teaching assignments and with the preparations for an exhibition which will open later in May this year (updates to follow). Conjointly, i began working on the translation into German of my Master research, “L´intime à l´oeuvre” (“The Intimacy as Artwork”) – first and foremost as a redraft into the language and culture i live in now, and also as a stimulus to further develop its pivotal idea – the autobiography at the core of the artistic process…

In this context of building up incentives for further research, we drove Friday to Dresden, to the 34. Deutscher Kunsthistorikertag, a biennial event organised by the Verband Deutscher Kunsthistoriker e.V. The co-partner of the event this year, having as topic global art vs. local art, was the Institut für Kunst und Musikwissenschaft of the Technischen Universität Dresden. The Kunsthistorikertag lasted from 8th to 12th of March and had numerous art historians guests with various backgrounds and very engaging talks. As the introduction word conveys, this year´s event had a spotlight on the present-day political aspects. Obviously, the art history is, malgré tout, about the position of the Images and these days in a more straightforward way it is about the politics of the Images.

In the words of the organizers:

“It is the abundance and the frequency of this images, along with their mass-media processing, that are emotionally impacting and affecting us, just as well as they irritate and make us skeptical. The present-day political context shows us even more, in our global world, how profoundly, the interlinking between politics, culture and science works and how strong the consequences and shocks can be felt, as well at a local level.”

(Transl. from original text/German.)

How does today the notion of identity change within this process of cultural transformations and how can it be defined in the context of a diverse society marked by divergent religious and political models? – Was the challenge question that brought the lecturers together with debates from different perspectives.

We opted for the day with the lectures focused on the “Identity of The Islamic Art and Architecture After 1798” and we´ve witnessed a few very engaged and engaging talks, as for instance on the relatively new research field of the Islamic cultural heritage in the Balkans, followed by an enthusiastic prologue to the “Skopje 2014 Project” and a compact, substantial talk on the urban planning in Kuweit City after 1945.

Later that evening was the closing party at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste (HfBK) and we´ve pondered for a while whether going or not. The eventuality of joining in a stiff cocktail reception was not exactly in tune with my cogitating mind. We decided to go out for dinner and just out of sheer curiosity to check at the HfBK if the ateliers were open to the public. I couldn´t have been more wrong about the hypothetical stiffness and could not have felt more gratified for deciding to go inside the university. The ateliers were open to the public for the entire evening / night (a brilliant and sensible idea for a closing party hosted by HfBK). It was a gratifying and unexpected flashback into the golden days of experimenting. We´ve wandered around between the Graphic and Painting departments with their respective studios packed with students, attending friendly their spaces with “that” gaze of poised confidence, an unsullied form of idealized trust towards their métier that only one that has already experimented such quixotic, incurable, impractical passion for her/his trade can pick up the vibe.

I asked the authors if i may photograph and clicked now and then on my camera, while avoiding to chase and decontextualize the object from its system. The whole film was to be experienced then and there: yet what i would´ve loved to capture unobtrusively was that acute state-of-the-art sense, that cuts beyond art history and theories, the one that urged the students into assembling their in situ, micro installation out of working wear, private items and statement objects.

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The Art of Memory

Taxonomy

The last days of the last year i have been taking some time to get through the “Art of Memory” ongoing installation-archive, ongoing inventory of objects and images. During the last year, after several design concept tests and trials, it seemed like a suitable choice the black lid glass container as a “preservation” solution – sort of a direct recourse to a shape and form with functions and aims very much bound to our cultural idea of conservation… There is something visually and tactile pleasing in the plain form, the compact solidity of the glass and the unexpected (playful) convergences between the original purpose of the recipient and its new content.

But there´s also something peculiarly satisfying in the process of preparing/cleaning/altering the jars, covering in opaque black paint the previous lids´patterns and glossy adverts…

The most enjoyable, yet is the sensual exercise of going through the items, touching their skins and selecting, smelling the matter across layers of dust particles and inventing categories, arranging then, the assigned jars to the new section, family, type, level… For now there are named: “tickets”; “notes”; “identification cards”; “silver and golden gifts”; “writing tool gifts”; “Paris goods”.

It comes to mind Walter Benjamin´s “Talk about Book Collecting”, an essay that starts like: “I am unpacking my library. Yes, I am.” and formulates the mechanisms of the relationship between a (book) collector and its obsession (possession) such as:

“Every passion borders the chaotic, but the collector´s passion borders the chaos of memories.” (…) Thus, there is in the life of a collector a dialectical tensions between the poles of disorder and order. Naturally, his existence is tied to many other things as well: to a very mysterious relationship to ownership, something about which we will have more to say later; also a relationship to objects which does not emphasize their functional utilitarian value—that is, their usefulness—but studies and loves them as the scene, the stage, of their fate. The most profound enchantment of the collector is the locking of the individual items within a magic circle in which they are fixed as the final thrill, the thrill of acquisition, passes over them. Everything remembered and thought, everything conscious, becomes the pedestal, the frame, the base, the lock of his property. The period, the region, the craftsmanship, the former ownership—for a true collector the whole background of an item adds up to a magic encyclopedia whose quintessence is the fate of his object.” (Benjamin, Walter. “Unpacking my Library: A Talk about Book Collecting,” in Illuminations, New York: Schocken Books, 1969; translated by Harry Zohn, edited and with an introduction by Hannah Arendt , pp. 59-67./ p. 60

Enjoy a healthy new year!

TICKETS

NOTES

IDENTIFICATION