July 29, 2023
Mark Titchner traces the first points of COORDINATE, a two-year program of artistic practices curated by Juan Pablo Macías and Alessandra Poggianti that from the Magazzini Generali establishes a dialogue with the city. The project includes several interventions between the exterior and interior of MG 48°50° diffusing a poetic message by reconnecting historical memory and present’s criticality to open new visions in synergy with the world and its elements.
“To all and others, welcome”
‘To all and others, welcome’ is a new poster based artwork developed specially for this exhibition in Livorno. The title references the opening of the 16th Century Livornese Constitution (Leggi Livornine) and reminds us
of the city’s long history of collaborating with migrant communities. ‘To all your merchants of any nation, Leuantini and Ponentines, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, German, & Italian, Hebrew, Turkish, and Moors, Armenians, Persians, & others, greetings.’ The text of the posters read “THROUGH SUCH STORMS, AGAINST SUCH TIDES, TOWARDS NEW SHORES”. Referencing both the maritime heritage of the city and the perilous sea journeys made by some migrants today. It also references Walter Benjamin’s concept from ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’ that whilst we may wish to repair and remember the past we are continually, pushed forward by an unstoppable force; ’This storm is what we call progress’. In the artwork’s text it is suggested that this storm can be endured to bring us closer together, to new possibilities and another world. For this project the artist and curators asked people of Livorno, friends and colleagues to translate the original English phrase into the most spoken languages in Livorno. These variations of the artwork can be found in sites on streets across the city.
“So much noise to make a silence”
2009, Steel and fixings
in the pair of sculptures ‘So much noise to make a silence’ the macho sculptural language of minimalism is applied to a familiar symbol of the New Age movement, the Wind chime. As the chimes are enlarged and metamorphosed into heavy steel structures they are effectively silenced no longer simply activated by a gentle breeze. Whilst the two structures appear identical upon first viewing one sculpture has a single shorter wind chime than the other. This denotes different musical tunings for the two sculptures. Whilst the sculptures remain silent theoretically one is tuned to the chord D Major and the other D Minor. During the Baroque period D Major was regarded as ‘The Key of Glory’ and can be found in anthem music such as Handel’s ‘Zadok the priest’. In contrast D Minor is associated with creating a mood of melancholy or sadness in the listener.
Despite their composition of mechanical components such as chains and cylinders and their visual similarity
to the ubiquitous wind chime the function of these objects is remain silent and immobile denying any potential sound. The title for these works is adapted from the lyric ‘You’ve got to make such a noise to understand the silence’ from the song ‘Yes Sir, I will’ by the British Anarcho-punk band Crass.
2014, video 17’36’’
The video work ‘Rose’ combines large format text with fast cut images relating to the four elements; water, fire, air and earth. Moving through three increasingly unsettling hypnotic sections, affirmative texts of the kind encountered in self-improvement manual and corporate speak, creep gradually towards something more sinister. This seemingly affirmative, commonly used language contrasting the imaginary landscape of individual aspiration with our real conditions of flawed existence. The work was influenced by interrogation techniques found in the declassified CIA Kubark manual. The title ‘Rose’ refers to the symbol of the Rosy Cross. The cross features the letter formula INRI, the letters commonly found above the head of Jesus in depictions of the crucifixion and representing the Latin ‘Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdaeōrum’ in English, Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews. However in Esoteric traditions the INRI formula has many alchemical interpretations many relating to cleansing or renewal. For instance ‘Igne Natura Renovatur Integra’ (Nature is completely renewed by Fire) or ‘In Neci Renascor Integer’ (In death one is reborn intact and pure). The formula is also attributed to the Hebrew words Iam, Nur, Ruakh and Ieveshah, which represent the four elements water, fire, air and earth.
The soundtrack for the work is an original piece written and performed by Daniel O’Sullivan and Alexander Tucker.
photos: Juan Pablo Macías