Anita Sieff
Anita Sieff, Psyche
      Ca’ Pesaro, Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna, Venice, Italy
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ESSAYS   >>>>>


Psyche, Ca'Pesaro Museum, Venice, 2011 [eng]  [ita]  [video]

Ordine di Senso, 2010
Venezia, Fondazione Querini-Stampalia

the drama of love at the Fortuny Museum in Venice, 2003 [eng]  [ita]

moda è modo, 2001

social sculpture #2 at Tonic in New York City, 2000

symposium on Love in Venice, 2000 [eng]  [ita]

social sculpture #2 teatro Fondamenta Nove in Venice, 2000

social sculpture #1 the Kitchen in New York City, 1999 [eng]  [ita]

WORKS   >>>>>

Feeling is the Parameter of Contemporarity

by Marco Ferraris

“Feeling is the parameter of contemporary living” is Anita's statement which made me fall in love with her.

Subjectivity is an achievement of the twentieth century. I believe that on a perceptional level only modern humankind is able to experience such a condition. Its significance is enormous, as it leads to the impermanence of the psychological dimension and to the hazard of the subjective projection. The crisis arises from the impossibility for the subjectivity to find external points of reference, as it has not learnt yet to use feeling as the parameter. Feeling does not expect to be homologated because it cannot be compared. Subjectivity cannot find a social application in sharing affiliation, and needs therefore to contend with one's own awareness, an anomalous dimension because of the prejudiced idea of the community we share. The key to the contemporary and to its attainment is found in such an unfulfilled area, so peripheral to the norms of socialization.

Myth is the one experience objectively recognized and subjectively acknowledged; for this reason it represents a communal value and still is an important analogical instrument. Now the myth becomes the foundation of life, as our society forces on us a mythic rhythm, deprived of the myth's inherent substance, as the requirements that open up to us are merely consumerist. The problem with the contemporary is that we confuse our desires, partly also for budget reasons, with the rhythm laid upon us by the mass media, the need to belong to the great collective myth, or we risk being seized by an ontological sadness due to our inability to participate in this projection. It is not a coincidence that one of the most successful brands chose as a motto the statement “just do it,” paradoxically inviting us to free ourselves while binding us to the consumerist act of identification with the brand itself. To top it all, a famous stylist employs the idea of freedom in an even more sophisticated manner: he markets shoes derived from the Polish Army ones, simply characterizing them with a red circle, so that the “happy few” can identify them as special merchandise. The psychological path follows this statement: “I have the time and refinement to recognize such intellectual processes; you have the money to buy the shoes, and the prospect to be identified by the ‘happy few' and thus rightly participate in contemporary myth.” Nevertheless, it is important to understand what lies behind our idea of the myth and what its prospects are. The classical Greek myth develops around the alternation of various perceptual phases that leads to a global understanding of the considered theme. The consumerist contemporary myth is based on what is unfulfilled, on a fragment that does not connect with the whole. It is precisely what Barbara Kruger says: “I shop therefore I am” does not untangle the existential dimension of being. Yet life in a mythological dimension, as if every moment was paradigmatic and led us to different accesses to an unknown world, is of fundamental importance. There lives the artist, in that solitary place, as heroic as a pioneer.   I believe this is how it has always been over the years because the artist always gave voice to the subjectivity of feeling, and his lyrics to the overflowing of emotions.

Paradoxically, the problem for the artist lies in his need for recognition, and this can only be reflected by an economic recognition originating from the art system itself. It is a forced compression in a scheme that determines boundaries and modes of application, where the feeling aligns itself to the convenience of an objective volition, alien to its natural subjective origin, at times imploding into something akin to farce. The artist should not seek recognition, this can be his limit. He should suffice himself. Or maybe the art system should not expand too much on the market level, since thanks to mass media the communication level cannot be but mythical because of the necessity of attracting the public at large.

The mythical content of an artist lies not in his ability of projecting himself as a universe of values, to be then absorbed in the mass media distorted communication. He can only remove himself from the scene and hope to live in the hearts of those few who can still resonate, because they ­cultivated and treasured their intimate world, their soul. Their subjectivity.

When subjectivity dares to express its own passion, then it becomes the most interesting device. It triggers a coordination of psychic and physical processes in terms of synchrony, not of randomness. Synchrony means then simultaneity of a certain psychic state with one or more external events that appear to be significantly parallel to the momentary subjective state and, sometimes, vice versa.

The phenomenon of synchronicity, as Jung describes it, is the result of two factors: “1) an unconscious image arises directly (literally) o indirectly (as a symbol or just as a hint) on the conscience as a dream, sudden idea or premonition; 2) a certain objective event coincides with this content.” How is coincidence created? The coincident representation starts in the unconscious and then comes back in ideas that are independent from us and are caused by something else and not by one's own thought. Even Goethe thinks in magic terms in relation with synchronistic events. “We all have ­certain electric and magnetic powers within us and ourselves, an attractive and repelling force, according as we come into touch with something like or unlike.”

Causality, so important in the western world, acquired such a primary role only in the past few centuries, more and more obscuring a world based on metaphysical values. From time immemorial it exists in the Chinese ­philosophy the concept of Tao, which could be translated as “sense.” The Tao permeates Chinese thought, generating an idea of the world totally different from ours, bordering a phenomenal conception. Reality for them is a conceptual dimension, because in all things a sort of implicit order is concealed.  

A parallel comes to my mind with a previous exhibition Anita Sieff held at the Fondazione Querini Stampalia, that she titled Ordine di Senso (The Appropriate Order) in honour of this emptiness that implies the germinative potential of our feelings and our actions.