Luca TrevisaniI – 38° 11′ 13.32” N 13° 21′ 4.44” E 44° 24′ 27.4” N 8° 55′ 60.0” E
Press release as interview
Pinksummer: “While not wishing to go into details, let’s just consider that living and mobile architecture called dance. Its components are human beings instead of stones: when taking part to the dance, through the dance itself they are taken away from their animal life and transported into social life, meaning into the properly human life. As a matter of fact, it seems clear how dance derives from ceremony, which is nothing else than the expression of society. Therefore, men who dance realize their own vocation of men by dancing. All the arts, in particular architecture, are symbols of dance, or rather of ceremony. By asserting that the temple stones want to be there where they are – which sounds pretty incomprehensible – we meant that architecture consists of transporting human relationships in stones”.
Simone Weill’s words from her short essay Beauty and Good a collection of early writings published in Italy with the title Il Bello e il Bene1 made us thinking at what we imagine your third solo show at pinksummer will look like, a dance, or maybe even a ceremony, based on repetition, meant as actualization of something that precedes History, something always exemplary, somehow harmonized with the lasting and consistent note of panta chorei’s mithycal time, when the incessant change of nature, the panta rei, is limited by logos and thus turns itself into dance, into poiesis.
In order to make the space sacred, in the earliest stages of our civilization, people connected it to the cosmos by an axis and some cardinals points, while agricultural civilizations practiced instead the ritual repetition of an exemplary action, whence the world is generated through the contraposition, the fracture, between the inhabited territory, considered sacred, and world’s chaotic indetermination.
If the mimesis of becoming has always constituted your oevre’s head chord, in the case of your work focused on the mysterious rock engravings of Addaura caves, on the mount Pellegrino above Palermo, such a chord seems to grow longer in depth, in order to let emerge, by ritualizing it, the laceration that generated society and History.
“Idolatry is therefore a vital need inside the cave. Even though also among the best ones, it is unavoidable that it strictly limits the intelligence and goodness”, wrote Simone Weil in Gravity and Grace.
Idolatry is meant to be understood as a medicament aiming to suturing the founding fracture of human society, that involves exclusion. Even the Enlightenment, on which modern society is based, could be meant as a form of idolatry.
Your exhibition, that seems to establish some sort of potential continuity connecting us and those cavemen, who in the late Epigravettian or at the early Mesolithic represented with the stone and on the stone a scene of exclusion in which animals appear distinct and accessory, was it born from enchantment or disenchantment?
Luca Trevisani: Addaura caves are closed to the general public for safety reasons, it was perhaps because of the charm of that forbidden fruit, added to the pleasure of finding a shelter inside those caves on a monsoon rainy day, or because of what we saw on the rocks: for sure that trip did not leave us unmoved. It is the vision of a mystery, that is sacred as such, but also funny, because it shows us how simple we are.
Addaura caves complex has become for me a reference place, imagine an illicit bouldering circuit, packed with people though, blended with an oasis of peace for teenagers seeking an alcove from which watching the sea, a drawing school for contemporary graffitists, an archaeological beach where mollusks and dolomites met and wedged in, and – finally – a place holding some rock engravings which are at the same time so old that they cannot be dated and so fresh to let me think they are a very juicy and very true falsification of history. They say that the pictures conserved in the caves are the oldest representation of a human community ever realized, maybe those men were among the first farmers, for sure they were involved and lost in a collective ritual. This place is like a social garden, partially spontaneous and partially ruled; living, dishevelled, elusive, gently non-standard a little like the landscape surrounding it.
Do you know Palenque Hotel? That lecture and slide projection by which Robert Smithson read an abandoned hotel, through some photos and a text of the purest architectonic mysticism? Well, that was a subtle psychic guide for the hours I spent among those Palermitan rocks. Month after month, Addaura has become my Hotel Palenque, a performative platform for meditating on entropic processes, and on how do we dance them.
To me Addaura is a such a prosperous and weird situation that I cannot accept it remained unknown to the majority, so I decided to work as I was making some postcards out of it, as a way to spread it around, to provide it with legs and wings, to print it on large sheets of paper in order to let it travel, to turn it into improper sculpture and digital file, in order to dissolve it in the world.
The place needed to be transformed in order to distill its juice, to be transfigured in order to be brought to life, I had to become ventriloquist in order to let it speak.
Ps: “… And my feeling is that the hotel is built with the same spirit that the Mayans built their temples”, wrote Robert Smithson about Palenque Hotel. For sure, you did not handle Addaura graffiti in a romantic fashion. As a matter of fact, the idea of “ruin on the contrary” too is much relevant for your approach to that place: it is not time that makes a building fall into ruin, but that entropic drift is the foundation of any building itself, and that could be said endemic in any possible human construction, also the future ones, even though theoretical. We can build only ruins because our perception of time is evenemential and set up on the irreversibility of eternity.
We were disaccustomed to your poetic and elusive way of talking, we are stubborn and we go back to our first question, do you believe entropy can be a variable provoked by the ritual carried out by those damn anthropocentric early cultivators?
LT: Sure. Yes. Absolutely. Entropy is the disorder released to a system, and the man, the only animal who inhabits and smashes and redesigns the borders of nature, does nothing else than releasing entropy to the world. Those rock engravings are the only known cave artefact in which, approximately 10-14.000 years ago, for the first time, men pictured a ritual and, by doing so, they represented a gathering, society, feast. Those dancing men show us how conventional is our concept of habitat and society; they challange the definition of nature, they are a living analysis of our idea of progress and future. It is not clear wether an apotropaic ritual is featured or whether those engravings are about some erotic shamanism or they are just a very recent hoax, however, for sure, Addaura caves make us face something we cannot comprehend, some images that are so old that are out of History, without any visual tradition guiding our understanding of them. Any good artwork is kneaded with ambiguity; I do not know if this can be called also entropy, but thinking art as a field in which entropy is cultivated is a captivating idea.
Ps: “The little drawings of animals and puppets” of Addaura, to cite the former supervisor Giovanni Mannino, who in The Cave of Addaura, the engraving and the Black Cavern tells about the discovery of the paleolithic graffiti between 1951 and 1952 by a guy called Giovanni Cusimano, who defined himself “treasure hunter and knower of each and every stone of Mount Pellegrino”, represent, because of their exquisite realism, an unicum in the worldwide panorama of cave art.
Going back to Shadow and Grace, Simone Weil wrote: “When the true seems at least as true as the false, there is the triumph of the holiness or of the genius” and also “Future should remain there where it lies and do not stop being future. An absurdity that only eternity can recover”.
Of course, maybe we miss the categories allowing us to comprehend that representation out of history, but the interpretation, no matter if true or false, given that such prejudgments can be applied here, is able to bring prehistory up-to-date too within whichever extraordinary Jurassic Park. On the other hand, you said that potentially, the hermeneutic cyanotype, exquisitely pictorial, that you have realized in order to replicate the cave engraving as if they were postcards, could have been produced by those late Paleolithic people themselves. If we humans managed to get out of the chains, that lock us up in Addaura caves since at least 14000 years, would we become like the gods who do not need to interpret nor to represent any thing?
LT: Being human, we will not get rid of any chain belonging to humans and their nature, and that’s all right. I chose to ask and to interview those ghosts by replicating them through some cyanographic prints, developed with some simple and elementary chemical reactions. I have used a nineteenth-century technique hybridized with a digital negative, and obtained some color prints with help of wine, coffee, tea, ammonia, animal urine and thousands of other concotions. I did it thinking that chemistry is perhaps the only thing that joins us to those ancestors of us, the molecular life of matter is today the same of those times one, the energies of the sun and the sea water are always the same, that still frame the caves. Cyanotype and its mistakes and its accidental discoveries seemed to me the only wise way to unhinge and keep away any silly idea of progress, that could, unfortunately, accompany us while we watch those engravings.
Ps: What will be the title of your exhibition?
LT: Art is for me a research and digging field. It is experimentation, and not all the experiments are successful, sometimes we fail. I have understood that there is a consistent tension across my work as a whole, that is my acting on materials, on stories, and on places. My work is like a travel agency taking to foreign situations, trying to subtract them from the oblivion, or the not-known.
My job is to point the finger at something that I wish you to see, and to build a bridge on a case-by-case basis in order to let you get there, to choose the right language to make a place to speak, to coin a suitable language. The title it of the exhibition is so explained by the geographic coordinates of Addaura caves, followed by the geographic coordinates of Pinksummer in Genoa. 38° 11′ 13.32″ N 13° 21′ 4.44″ E / 44°24’27.4″N 8°55’60.0″E
Ps: The exhibition will have a sound, what will that be?
LT: I made a sound work, sort of an homage to Alvin Lucier and his work I’m sitting in a room. I took the geographic coordinates of the cave and I used a website to translate them into Morse, then I converted that code into a sound, which was done automatically, thanks to another free website. I played that localization of the cave inside the cave itself and recorded the sound produced during the process in order to play that record in the cave again, and to record its sound again, and so on. I interviewed the cave by tring to listen to its position: an astral sound came out, an out of time mantra, that make me think at the alien jingle of the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Ps: Could you please use as image for your invitation card the photograph you sent us via WhatsApp to show us the sculptures you meant to present at pinksummer, when those were just made up, en plein air in Palermo, in which you look like an invincible fisherman from an American lake, holding his carp like a trophy?
1 Simone Adophine Weil, Il Bello e il Bene, a cura di R. Revello, Mimesis Edizioni, 2018