Towards the west


‘To illustrate the exhibition we are publishing the fol-lowing text written by Giovanni Chiaramonte. In my memory, the twilight of my childhood in Sicily is still illuminated by tales of long sea journeys from the sunny harbours of the Mediterranean across the great ocean to America and, since then, through that luminous window which is television. I have always loved to watch films narrating the far-off adventure of Christopher Columbus. And my photographs have always tried to recreate the journeys across sea and land which give life to the various worlds of human beings. Thus in ‘Terra del Ritorno’, a photographic pilgrimage which moves from Sicily along the Atlan-tic seaboard of Portugal, then to Berlin and Milan, and from here down the ancient Roman roads to Ro-me, Athens, Istanbul and Jerusalem, the images relate the destiny of Europe in the architectural and existential traces left by the different cultures and religions which intertwined in the Mediterranean basin; traces in which the original shapes of nature are remoulded by the subsequent records of the various civilizations that form the backdrop of history against which human beings live the significant gestures of their existence. Human beings that live, play, work, love, walk, contemplate and die. From the very offset, ‘Terra del Ritorno’ represented the first part of a narrative that inevitably includes the destiny of America. And there is an area of the New World in which this interrelated destiny is particularly evident, an area that spreads out from the place where, Columbus disembarked on his first voyage of discovery: the Caribbean sea, where the surrounding lands meet and come together in a complexity equal to that of the Mediterranean. To the north, the United States, where the reformed Christian Anglo-Saxon re-ligious culture populated a virtually uninhabited land, without history or memory and brought to their functional and social peak the fundamental political and scientific principles of Western Europe. ‘In that country’, writes Octavio Paz, ‘man does not feel torn from the centre of creation, nor threatened by enemy forces. The world was created by him in his own image: it is his mirror. But… he is alone among his pro-ducts, lost in a sea of mirrors’. In the centre is Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela, where the Roman Catholic religious culture was obliged to conquer and assimilate some of the most im-portant Pre-Columbian kingdoms and create a com-posite and necessarily contradictory society. Here man felt himself suspended between earth and heaven and swung between contradictory powers and forces.. where, continues Octavio Paz, ‘reality, or the world surrounding us, exists on its own account, has a life of its own, and was not, like in the United States, invented by human beings. Mexicans feel themselves torn from the breasts of this reality and ‘would like to return to the centre of that life from which – by the Conquest or Independence? – they have been removed. Our loneliness has the same roots as religious sentiment. It is like being an orphan, an obscure feeling of having been torn from All and an ardent search: an escape and a return, an attempt to recreate the links which united us to creation. The loneliness of the North-American is as far away as possi-ble from this feeling’. It was with this sentiment that my journey toward America began, an obscure feeling pervaded with the hope of discovering the face which pronounced the eternal Word which generated us and toward which we are moving on pilgrimage.’


22 Agosto 1992 - 29 Agosto 1992


Exhibitions Meeting Exhibitions