The home of the image
by Giovanni Iovane, 1999
(Introduzione: la visione in pianta) [Introduction: the vision in a plan]
The problem, as usual, lies in reaching back to the constitutive, original act.
One may blame, perfunctorily, the chaos of the catasto, the land register (or the Castle), or make do with a “trace”.
J. Derrida (La voix et le phénomène, 1967) writes that it is not easy to distinguish between real and fictional representation and that therefore presence is only marked by a trace; only starting from this can one hope to reach back to the “origin”.
From any which way of looking at it, this always means going (thinking, imagining) in a direction opposed to the stimuli (internal and external).
This capacity to look backwards, towards the trace of the place from which it all began (migrated) has always been the duty, par excellence, of the “imagination”: to reunite the many in one.
Nevertheless, “one and many” are words that only the pre-Socratics could allow themselves to use literally — perhaps because their texts have reached us directly in fragments (traces). In our present, “one and many” are at the most tropes.
Transforming tropes into the tropic has been one of the fundamental duties of art this century. Let us consider, for example, sculpture and its arrangement in space from Brancusi to Carle Andre. Verticality and horizontality are exact degrees of vision of sculpture in a space: they represent its correct fundamental sites, necessary and even sufficient.
Installations, considered from the point of view of the relationship of the work with space, are often an excess, a luxury if not a useless work.
The problem, once again, is not to take (and not to feel) things literally, but to understand where these things are or have been. A vision in a plan, therefore, can be of some help.
“Let’s start again: let’s rely no longer on vectorial space, but on topological structures. Here we are taken back to the origins: certainly not the logical or historical origin, but to the fundamental conditions of the constitution of the forms of space. Through this return analysis, geometry uncovers a new purity that owes nothing to measurement, its predecessor, and again suspends twenty centuries of misunderstanding, perceiving them as impure and confused, technological and applied, in a word non-mathematical, absent and missing.” (M. Serres, Les origines de la géométrie, 1993).
Paolo Parisi’s happy tropic is located at the level (you choose as long as it is not zero) of full awareness that the foundation (better, the foundations) of art rebegins each time, in constituting forms in space — whether these foundations can then be seen or imagined is only a conceptual problem, Duchampian or post-Duchampian.
Certainly, at the beginning there is also a bit of toponymy. In a series of works the artist has used nautical charts of the Peloponnese. Using these charts has nothing to do with a homage to Greek thought. Perhaps these were at hand, perhaps they had been used more than once; the fact is that the Peloponnesian nautical charts are to be considered here as an extended “common place”.
Measuring this place consists, then, in reproducing it, marking its lines and borders with clay. On the other hand one cannot mark the entire Peloponnese using clay. Measuring the inaccessible is managed in miming it in the accessible … with one’s hands, with one’s fingers (cf. works, for example, such as Impronta (1964) by L. Fabro or Identity Stretch, 1970–71 by D. Oppenheim, where nevertheless the print, the trace is presented as a documentary or testimonial act rather than reconstruction).
Another operation involving mimesis of the inaccessible is the tracing of the interior space (a void) of a place, of a house or a room.
In this last case the topological dimension is yet more evident; there are no traces of directions or meanings.
The only sense is represented in the will to restore a home to the image of the place. This work of restoration is similar, in certain senses, to Soffio, 1978, by Giuseppe Penone (” … even one’s breath expands following a route, sometimes meanders, sometimes more taught in following the currents of the air. To fill a space with the meanders of one’s breath, the volume of breath produced by the life of a man.”).
No less so, in Parisi poetical memory, which forces us to think of non-automatic responses, comes to rest on the threshold of any and every history.
There is no contact, indeed, between two materials, between two bodies. There are no signs, wounds, lacerations.
Around or alongside there is a reconstruction that goes beyond the exterior film of the object, beyond its external morphology. To offer a possibility to an inaccessible space (it is simply not possible to enter a home from its interior) is the first step on the stairway of reconversion.
The problem, negative this time, of much contemporary art is that of thinking that images “travel” or “navigate” without their having a material original home; that they might be a multiplicity without meaning and that they can freely link up among themselves.
(Coleridge distinguished the simply aggregate nature of fancy from the more profound nature of the imagination – to shape into one).
The places, the places of art should always be joinings of meanings and things … around, at least, a project.
(Come raggiungere il cielo dalla Terra – navigare solo -) [How to reach the sky from the Earth – sail single handed -]
” … Aristarchus of Samos evaluated the relative distance of the Sun and the Moon compared to the Earth by taking measurements on a triangle rectangle formed by three stars, at the moment when the Moon was in view, and in which, consequently, in order to define the triangle it was enough to observe the angle compared to the Earth.” (A. Comte)
© 1999, Giovanni Iovane, in “Paolo Parisi. 1999”, published by Collica Gallery, Catania | Base/Progetti per l’arte, Florence.