Marco Polo Essay
Essay on theme of Italo Calvino’s book “Invisible Cities” applied to work of some contemporary artists as well as to work of Edita Pecotic Trying to find the right framework around which to build my essay for the module ‘Themes and Concepts 2’of my Fine art Degree, I visited the recent exhibition ‘ The State of Play’ at the Serpentine Gallery, London.
The exhibited art works reminded me of various details from Italo Calvino’s “Invisible Cities”.
It is written as of a succession of dialogues – meditative conversations between Kublai Khan, the emperor and Marco Polo, the traveller and visitor to Khan’s Empire. All these topics are about issues I am interested in and are addressed in my work too.
Marco Polo is describing to Kublai Khan various fantastic cities he saw on his travels in order for the Emperor to comprehend the sheer size of his own empire (home). I have specifically chosen a few of these stories to refer to for the purpose of this essay.
The boards are left empty and open so one can have a look to see what is behind.
Large empty hole left in billboards represent new windows that perhaps could open a previously unknown view.
Theproject that I did is a book of photographs of wired fences and it’s shadows on a sunny Sunday morning.
A shadow resembles fish passing in shallow water, or driftwood surfing the surface of the ocean, so it looks surreal and dramatic.The issues covered in this collection of stories are visitor versus inhabitant, home vs. “…Your gaze scans the streets as if they were written pages: the city says everything you must think, makes you repeat her discourse, and while you believe you are visiting Tamara you are only recording the names with which she defines herself and all her parts” This refers to the semiotics of urban landscape, a panoramic view of a city surveyed by the viewer and symbolic representation of materials and social practices – opposition between the market and place.The signs are communicating to the viewer in well-premeditated language and form and in its communication, signs are influencing and (re) forming viewer’s opinions.It raises issue of nostalgia that is addressed in melancholic and romantic works of Mariele Neudecker.A Mariele Neudecker video installation carries melancholic nostalgias as well as alienating effects.Another artist whose work is relevant to these issues is Tacita Dean.Her film is visual meditation on seemingly polarised opposites – lighthouse and sea: man-made structure and nature, as well as position of the individual (viewer) in that setting.my other work, a short film ‘Desperately Fighting Scary Black Horses’ the same issue of consumerism is addressed.A video-shot of a moving billboard is edited in the way to appear that the little house from the billboard (as symbol of the individual) is trying to push back powerful horses – (logo of Lloyds Bank).My short film ‘Sunset at Willesden Junction’ is also about longing and recollection of romantic places one cannot forget.This work raises issues of alienation of the individual in urban environment as well as feelings of displacement of outsider within new, non-home environment.