Marianne Halter & Mario Marchisella
10 February – 9 April 2023
Opening: Thursday, 9 February 2023, 6–9 pm
@ Espace DIAPHANES Zurich
The 6th iteration of a small series curated by Damian Christinger for Espace DIAPHANES in Zurich on the interconnections between visual art and text.
A camera eye is positioned on a tower and looks down on an Italian square, which the savvy observer will easily identify as the Piazza San Marco in Venice. A figure in tails seems to be moving in a random pattern, furtively, without attracting undue attention. Still the camera at its vantage point is alert, it is like an omniscient eye, reminding us of the all-encompassing presence of surveillance in times of terrorism. The figure is writing while moving, spilling water while inscribing itself on the square with the word “fine”, Italian for “end”.
This word, which will equally appear after any classical Italian film or cartoon, be it a movie by Pasolini or “Scacciapensieri”, raises questions and leaves the viewer ambiguous. Has something ended? Will it end? Is it a threat, and if so, by whom or what? We know that the city of Venice is doomed. Rising sea levels will destroy it as they destroyed various islands in the South Seas and parts of coastal cities everywhere. The video could thus also be read as an “Abgesang”, initiated by the conductor, known from previous works by Halter & Marchisella, on a particular culture and old hegemonies. Touristic Venice has been a non-place all along, at least since Napoleon, and the various biennials and film festivals have only emphasized this.
Is this the end of our poster picture postcard kind of world, our artistic, illusionistic pictorial space? Is it the end of city- and landscapes?
The figure, the gestalt, is walking while writing, its body has a clear function. Rebecca Solnit writes: “Which is to say that the subject of walking is, in some sense, about how we invest universal acts with particular meanings. Like eating or breathing, it can be invested with wildly different cultural meanings, from the erotic to the spiritual, from the revolutionary to the artistic. Here this history begins to become part of the history of the imagination and the culture, of what kind of pleasure, freedom, and meaning are pursued at different times by different kinds of walks and walkers. That imagination has both shaped and been shaped by the spaces it passes through on two feet. Walking has created paths, roads, trade routes; generated maps, guidebooks, gear, and, further afield, a vast library of walking stories and poems (…). The landscapes, urban and rural, gestate the stories, and the stories bring us back to the sites of this history.” (Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust).
The act of walking circles back to the act of making this artwork: the camera is decidedly not a surveillance apparatus nor the all-seeing eye of Vertov’s kinoki. But it plays with these concepts, as it lies in the artist‘s steady hands. Fine is less a song of loss and redemption but much more an act of poetic resistance. Things have not come to an end yet. Reference systems and the landscapes of the 20th century might be lost, but art still has something to say. The word and the body inscribe themselves into the piazza, into the city, into our perception.
Espace DIAPHANES Zürich
Löwenbräukunst, Ebene A
Montag – Freitag 8 – 20h
Samstag / Sonntag 10 – 18h