Wednesday, November 04, 2009
In 13th Century Pisa, Count Ugolino Della Gherardesca was thought of as a traitor to Pisa, and sentenced to death through starvation with his children and grandchildren. Years later Dante described in his famous Inferno an Ugolino who was in many ways a caricature of the real man, alluding to his temptation to eat his own children in this seminal line: "Poscia, più che ’l dolor, poté ’l digiuno" (“Then hunger prevailed over grief”). This has lead to centuries of artists revisiting this cannibalistic mystery, from writers such as Seamus Heaney and Jorge Luis Borges, to sculptors such as Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux and Rodin.
But in 2002 a group of scientists in Italy (led by Francesco Mallegni) claimed to have examined the remains of the real Count Ugolino, his two sons, and two grandsons. After conducting DNA testing, they argued no such cannibalistic acts could have occurred (especially as Ugolino had died at an old age, and with teeth in no condition for eating flesh). Yet Mallegni's findings were soon disputed by other scientists as to their authenticity, arguing the remains may NOT have been Ugolino and his kin. So the mystery still remains...
2009 continues with an interest in Dante, where the leading Google result for "Dante's Inferno" brings us to the site for a new video game released this year by Visceral Games (with the tagline: "Go To Hell"). The Institute for Cultural Inquiry in Berlin is hosting a seminar series titled "Metamorphosing Dante". And also in Berlin, John von Bergen will present one sculpture titled "Ugolino" for his third solo show at Galerie Lena Brüning.
For his sculpture, von Bergen replaces the human form with what first appear as strangely twisted and morphed machine parts, which upon closer inspection reveal themselves as transformed casts of a table-saw. First appearing in violent intertwinement, they begin to dilapidate into a larger abstract structure. It has been considered that during the time of Dante's rivaling Italy, the real Ugolino served Inferno as a suggestive metaphor for his treasonable actions in Pisa. And yet when considering other artistic interpretations of this story over time, mythology has weighed in with far greater influence than what was a plausible outcome for him and his family. But the humanistic element in von Bergen's Ugolino has dissolved into a representation of another kind of fiction, where reality does not attempt to replace myth, but rather myth is replaced by a less tangible absurdity.
In "SOOTO hungry" John von Bergen will also present works from a new series of pencil drawings that relate closely to the sculpture as transformative structures torn between the abstract and the representational. They drift towards an ambiguous play between the natural and the imagined, by a process that blends detailed renderings of photographed objects with the process of simple abstract marks and gestures. As with the sculpture, the realization of a drawn image becomes the residue of real, and we are left with an instant memory of an incomplete form. As the art historian Ludwig Seyfarth has noted: "In both his drawings and sculptural work is a recognizable interest in exploring, where the utilization of unusual materials blend in flowing transition from the apparent towards inventive, idiosyncratic worlds."
John von Bergen is an American artist who studied at The School of Visual Arts in New York, and moved to Berlin in 2003. Since this time he has exhibited in various museums, galleries, and art fairs throughout Europe, as well as lecturing in Düsseldorf, Dresden, Berlin, and New York. In March 2009 he was invited to present a project for The Sächsisches Staatsministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst in Dresden, and is currently participating in the group exhibition "Octet" at The Pera Museum in Istanbul. In January 2010 von Bergen will present a solo exhibition at Smack Mellon in Brooklyn, New York. He is a 2009-2010 Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant recipient.
Geplaatst door anonymous op Wednesday, November 04, 2009