I warn you, you will make a powerful enemy of me

Will art overcome the greatest odds?
Will it turn shadow to light in a place of broken rules?
Will it foster warm chills of change?
Will it paint our mirrors?

A detached voice echoes through the void of the deserted architecture. A reminiscence of a sensation, a thought, a lost thread, familiar somehow… It sounds like a question, raised once again, in a a different language, in a different place, towards a different body. As she walks up the stairs, histories drop from the fuzzy seam of her russet dress, detangling from the unfolding plot, being grasped and woven into the architectures of memory.

The presence of the flaneur sediments, condenses into a dusting that covers once again the tags on the walls. In its motion through the halls, the figure seems anachronistic, a model configuration, extracted from another coding, time and space. Wandering through the emptied out containers of context, it constitutes a performative cartography, a reverse process of mapping in a space not yet occupied. Along with the outline of the rooms, the layers of narration produce its material, its scaffold, from their own resonation.

In I warn you, you will make a powerful enemy of me ekphrasis becomes dreamwork. The piece glances at the processes of appropriation and translation as an essential junction of artistic practice. Its protagonist is a precarious subject, staggering between experience, memory and narration.
The setting is the malpais of a deserted house, a non space, whose history is about to be superimposed, rewritten, appropriating the subversive potential of art. Real estate does indeed overcome the greatest odds. Semiconsciously W.H. Auden’s words, taken from his poem Musee des Beaux Arts, are scattered over the hallway, exposing the apathy of the imagery towards human sensation and suffering. In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away quite leisurely from the disaster is exhaled in a merely automized stream of consciousness they become inscribed into the wallwork of the deserted villa with its questionable history. Agglomerating the fragments of reference, the dusty halls resemble an inverted White Cube in which the distortion of narratives is transitioned into the proposed architectural space. Keeping a safe distance towards the walls, towards the brackets, this environment remains a mould, a blueprint of significations.

The protagonists walk is labor indeed, dreamwork as a stroll through the interstices of appropriation. What is yet to come, what is left behind? She encounters the unconscious, stuck in the cracks of the coating as an afterimage, an echo withdrawing from her perception. Still, her gaze hovers through the space as if she was searching for the lost threads, a futile approach of forensis in a bedimmed scenery. As soon as a hint, a memory condenses, it dissolves again and we are left behind, fumbling for the nexus.

Along with the pulsing of her steps the textual layering transitions, incorporates another voice from a different thread: Ungaretti’s Finale, in a colportage of translation and repetition crawls up the stairs, gushing forward into the rooms. And time and again the voice hovers through the withered space, an insisting mantra, invoking the Sea, the Sea… that no longer roars, lo longer whispers. The Sea, that appears as a phantasm, a dream not yet remembered, pends from the ceiling as a topos, continuously materializing in different languages. Beneath the stratum of significance in some moments a blurred insight culminates into an altered meaning. Like the tagging on the walls, that appear as a trace, unsettling the orientation of the self and the other, the here and the there, the now and the then. Between this diffuse grid of textual shreds, art in its practice and experience appears as a trading zone, an amalgam of interferences, urging the play of difference. If at all, from which perspective can we speak about these images, that we encounter as proliferation, as mise-en-scenes of entangled subjectivities?

While we progress hand over hand, pulling the strings together, the space stays a distant spectator of its own construction and experience. Indifferently observing the mounting, removal and re-organization of its layers, as Brueghel’s sun shines as it had to on the white legs of the drowning Icarus dissappearing into the water. What remains is indeed the roaring and whispering. Ceaselessly it piles up the shredded particles to new mounds of meaning, through which we tumble along to the reverberation of our own steps.

Text by Anna Gien