Heaven on earth
Pavillon of fine arts at Universidad Católica Argentina, Buenos Aires, 2010
This solo show offers poetics circling the thesis/antithesis Heaven/Earth. First, this tension is discussed by flat and Moebius strip shaped route signs. Another sign that says "You're in Heaven" and there is a blue "Stop" sign. Three sets of photographs are presented, one showing Buenos Aires? highest skyscrapers lost in the fog, another called "Eclipse" with intervened sequences of satellite photos explore the shadows casted by these towers and five translucent photographs of the riverside located in the windows, seeking to recover the lost horizon. Two transilluminated pictures of the sky are shown: a small wide-angled image located behind a lens and another in the ceiling that shows a building with all of its floors on sale. Finally, three ancient slide projectors represent different heavens on the ceiling.?Other objects include: two wooden boards with 40 compasses arranged to interfere with each others magnetic fields, three hourglasses disposed in a horizontal way pose timeless horizons, and two sculptures made of a large number of thermometers: interrupted horizon and fleeding horizon. Finally, the installation "The Color of Heaven" features 25 rows of catalog Pantones altered with small lenses that highlight paint names relative to the sky.
Filling heaven with sense
"Gaia first gave birth to the starry Uranus, like herself, to protect her everywhere, to be safeguard for the happy Gods. Hesiod, Theogony. Let's start from the beginning: Etymologically the word Heaven comes from Latin caelum, and is based on the Greek word kilon "concave", "hollow", "empty", because it appears to the eye as an immense concavity. This space is what we try to fill in a discussion between Martin Bonadeo and members of the Institute for the Integration of Knowledge in UCA*, transcribed and reproduced below. The idea is to open once again the discussion about the poetry of heaven.?On one side is the sky, we are surrounded by it. There is always sky, it is a natural part of our environment. From the origin of scientific thought, from Galileo onwards, there were many instruments used to observe and quantify atmospheric properties. From simple lenses to complex navigation instruments, compasses, thermometers, barometers or GPS contemporaries, we constantly need these measurements to try to control or predict something that will happen to our environment. In the near future or with a more transcendental question we seek answers in sky?s signs. And little by little we turn to a more abstract, symbolic and subjective area. We encounter with an element that evokes many metaphors and is sensitive to many belief systems. We want to submerge from the most complex, as possible, appreciation of the term. Following this path, many argue that the sky is not the atmosphere itself, but the one the poet sings about. That true heaven is the one from origin, when humanity appears. And when humanity appears, so does the myth. And when the myth appears, so does Heaven. The sky is heaven as it passes through man. And the truth is in the myth. Nothing is without going through art, poetry or sound. After that, things are what they are, and everything else is decandent. As one enters science?s fields, we found an undervalued truth. Before science?s and philosophy?s truth, it is essential an artist?s work to make things be. On an ontological level, paradise is the vision of a world that is completely inhabited by the divine and in which everything is open, where you see light in everything and everything is vast. From a point of view, the only ones who can truly speak of paradise are poets because they release all the energy of the word, of language, of meaning. There are metaphors or symbols that are matrix and are found in many cultures. Above and below are coordinates of virtually all civilizations. North is up and south is down. The southern part is usually the poorest. And so, we end up in the lowest part, Hell. And here is when basic binary organization of culture is introduced. Heaven opposed to Earth or, even more tense, to hell. But yes (Heaven) is much stronger than no (Earth). It does not hide it, it contains it. It goes beyond. In a moebius strip concepts are put into continuity and equivalence. But in this case it would fail because one has substance and the other not. One may wonder whether these concepts are or not polarities, but we live as if they were mutually exclusive: either we are in heaven or earth. This is reinforced because, unfortunately, we are increasingly away from both territories. With a layer of concrete between earth and our feet and another layer of roof between Heaven and ourselves, we're locked in an increasingly small space. Our field of action is smaller and our capacities are lower. Look around. We're in Puerto Madero, the neighborhood of Buenos Aires with the highest skyscrapers. The real state business argues that a 50th floor is more expensive than an 8th. Heaven is something we all are in contact with every day, but the market thinks of it as a commodity in short supply, to "sell" at a high price. To support this hypothesis, it is enough to look up and see the small celestial cuts that are being left over. What happened to us? In other times, Heaven?s view was fundamental. When Portuguese navigators began seeking new routes, the expansion of the sky was fundamental. As they crossed the imaginary line of the Equator, new stars appeared and a feeling of enormous abyss with it. Their essential reference varied, and they had to learn to read the new southern hemisphere star map. This allowed Columbus to imagine other lands on the basis of a new Heaven. The strange thing is that in the conquest of America, the Spanish imported a culture based on another sky?s calendar. And 500 years later we live under a system of values adapted to a heaven and a calendar that are not ours.?In the twentieth century another breaking point takes place. Astronaut Yuri Gagarin, Soviet?s atheism typical example, declares "I went to heaven and did not see God " after circumnavigating earth. It was perhaps the first to pierce the sky, conquering a new space, with no horizon, surpassing the visible sky. Going back to the beginning: the word heaven is much more than the sky. Gods of different religions cannot be defined by physical variables.?From a Catholic perspective, paradise is our ability to wonder. Heacen is a plus that is always there, but sometimes you do not connect with it. All human dimensions go beyond measure, they are related to affection, the sense of wonder and this is very close to love. So, from this perspective, Heaven is more related to a feeling rather than senses. Judgement Day states that God will be all in all: new heaven and new earth. I saw the city had no temple because the temple is God himself. And here appears the human need to ?architect? heaven. During the Gothic period, God is more trapped, more sky inside a human structure. But all belief systems planted monasteries on mountain tops. And the mountain as a meeting point with an entity that transcends us is key. As one is in higher grounds, there is less air pressure and basic sensory functions change, would argue a scientistic vision. However, from a subjective point of view it can be said that Heaven is contained in this hall, as it is within each of us.
* This meeting was attended by: Fr. Dr. Fernando Ortega, IPIS Director, Dr. Néstor Corona Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Dr. Ana Donini, Education?s Science, Lic. Horacio Garcia Bossio, History, Eng. Gustavo Giuliano, Electronic Engineering, Dr. Juan Manuel Rubio, Psychoanalyst-Psychologist-Medic, and Felipe Tami, Fellow of the National Academy of Economics.