June 6, 2017
Gekappte Geschichten oder Müder Mensch Europa
Carico Massimo presents, for the first time in Italy, the Austrian artist Hannes Zebedin, with a new project that will be presented in the spaces of the Magazzini Generali in Livorno, home of the Carico Massimo Association.
Gekappte Geschichten oder Müder Mensch Europa is the title of the exhibition, or Broken Stories or the tired Man of Europe: a research project that starts with a banner waved by a group of Livorno Calcio ultras, the BAL, during a match against the Trieste team.
It was 2002 and we read: “Tito taught us that La Foiba is not a crime.” The slogan is put under investigation, creating general indignation.
The reference to this delicate historical episode is studied by the artist, raising the question of the great Western narratives that impose an official history at the expense of the complexity of the facts. “Interrupted stories” or errors of the “tired Man of Europe”, such as that of the Timavo river which flows into a small village in the Trieste Karst, defined by Italians as the shortest river in the beautiful country. In reality, the Timavo is a very long river that begins its course in Slovenia, runs through it underground until it emerges on the surface in the Italian karst territory. The Timavo is therefore the continuation of a river called Reka.
Starting from these two facts, the historical one of the sinkholes and the geographical one of the Karst, the exhibition intertwines political conflicts with the specificity of the landscape, rethinking the political structure of the past, present and future, also as a model of European development.
A little village in the Carso Triestino - San Giovanni al Timavo - is the starting point of an interrupted story. Here are the springs of one of the shortest rivers in the World - the Timavo. Coming slowly and silently out of some Karst rocks, having already a respectable width after few meters, making a 90-degree-turn into a canal system after 1.5 km and, at the village of Villaggio del Pescatore, finally running into the Gulf of Trieste after around 2 km. The charateristics of a clear storyline are given: beginning – act – end.
There´s only a little mistake. Scientists found out that the Timavo is a continuation of a river called Reka. This river has its beginning in Northeast Croatia, running then through Southwest Slovenia into the Caves of Skocjan. On an unknown subterranean water course, the Reka goes on and comes again onto the surface as Timavo.
The subterranean water course of the Reka, as well as some of the Foibe, are geographically located in the Carso Triestina. The Carso itself shows different natural formations that generated over centuries like caves, dolines, and a surface formed by strong wind. The area is also witness of the big national conflicts of Europe in the 20th Century.
Around 15 years ago the football club AS Livorno was playing against Triestina Calcio. BAL, the Ultras of Livorno, were raising a banner with the slogan “TITO CE L´HA INSEGNATO LA FOIBA NON È REATO” which was causing a lot of controversial discussions around the topic of the mass killings in Venezia Giulia and Istria perpetrated by Yugoslav Partisans against the local Italian population. Brought to the topic by Lega Nazionale after the collapse of Yugoslavia, the articulation was mostly speaking of arbitrary acts, not mentioning the history of this region from beginning of 20th Century, where the Foiba massacres were a result of it.
Starting with these two facts the exhibition intends to combine the political conflicts with the particularity of the landscape, rethinking the political structure in past, present, and future, also serving as a role model for European development.
Arturo Hernández Alcázar, a fellow Mexican artist and good friend of mine, introduced me to Hannes Zebedin through an e-mail because he thought we had many things in common. Hannes came to visit us in Carico Massimo during Jean-Luc Moulène’s opening in September 2016. We spent a few days together talking about many topics around art, politics and soccer. I realized that Hannes had been in Livorno several times some years before, paying visits to the Amaranto football club and, as a left wing thinker, he was attracted to the BAL (Brigate Autonome Livornesi), to their humor and tifo—like Berlusconi’s Bandana or Tito’s banner in Trieste. This left wing tendency of the Livornese tifosi had captured Hannes’ sympathy since long ago.
We also discovered we were both enthusiastic readers of Wu Ming, of their early writings as Luther Blisset (Q) and the poetical situations they would activate in media and in life, like the case of the invented identity of the conceptual artist Harry Kipper who disappeared in the Italo-Slovenian border while cycling trying to write on the landscape the word ART. We spoke about Q’s teologic views on religion and liberty, and mainly about how the novel would base its narrative on Gutenberg’s invention —radically politicizing the book object. We also spoke about Wu Ming’s 54, the after-war in the northern part of Italy and its surroundings, about the new political, ideological and national block divisions in this zone of Europe (Between Italy, Austria and the Balkans), and all the underground fluxes giving form to dissent, trafficking, to affections and to geography as well… to speleology.
At the end of his visit to Livorno, after talking and showing us his work, we decided to invite him to propose a new project for the space.
Hannes has been living in Slovenia for several years now. He is an ex-farmer, an ex-lumberjack, economist and political scientist, and all these identities mix together in his approach to art making. He has been living in a small village named Vipava, a location that gives him several historic, geographic, morphological and conceptual inputs for pondering on this long history and improbable future of the Müder Mensch Europa (tired man of Europe). It’s mainly a history of divisions, of antagonisms between religions, between orthodoxy and heterodoxy, between left and right wings, classes, genders, and the 488 kilometers between Vipava and Livorno have been testimony and context for the different lines of thought that have stressed Europa and the world.
A few years after his project in Livorno, we are happy not to leave this story untold geschichten gekappte
text and photos:
Juan Pablo Macías