domingo, 26 de mayo de 2019


Quizá en nombre de Tadmur poco nos diga. Sí, en cambio, el de Palmira, en el desierto sirio.
Tadmur es el nombre árabe de la moderna ciudad de Palmira, cerca de la cual se hallan las ruinas de la ciudad antigua helenística y siro-romana, dañada aun más por el Estado islámico en dos ocasiones en 2015 y 2017.
Tadmur es, el mismo tiempo, el nombre de un conjunto de obras del artista sirio Majd Abdel Hamid, incluidas en la muestra colectiva Heartbreak (Corazón roto) que la fundación iraquí Ruya presenta en estos momentos en Venecia, coincidiendo con la Bienal de Arte.
Las obras consisten en bordados sobre diversas telas de pequeñas dimensiones: pañuelos, retales, remendados, cosidos, rotos, deshilachados. Doblados, arrugados.
Los bordados a mano reproducen la planta de un edificio descomunal. Éste es al mismo tiempo célebre y desconocido. No lejos de las ruinas, escondido tras una colina desértica, se ubica una cárcel en la que quien entra -presos políticos casi siempre- no sale con vida. Cárcel siniestra e invisible.
Los hilos penetran, hieren, tensan, deforman los tejidos, muy sencillos Son una señal indeleble, imposible de eliminar.
La mejor obra de toda la Bienal, muy lejos de la desmesura o el esoterismo reinante.

sábado, 25 de mayo de 2019


No miren este casi mítico cortometraje a medianoche....
O no se refugien en casas solitarias....

Se trata de uno de los cortometrajes, obra del dibujante Richard McGuire, que componen el célebre largometraje francés colectivo Peur(s) du noir -Fear(s) of the Dark-

viernes, 24 de mayo de 2019


Clips from "Mosul" feature documentary (Coming Soon) from Michael Tucker on Vimeo.
Official MOSUL film trailer EXTENDED VERSION from MOSUL Film on Vimeo.

Sobre este documental, véase, por ejemplo, su página web

Arquitectura de barro en Mesopotamia (Clay Architecture in Mesopotamia)

Sig4: ladrillo (en sumerio) 

Traducción inglesa de un texto redactado para el catálogo de la exposición La historia empieza en Sumer presentada en el Museo del Louvre de Lens (Francia) y en los centros Caixaforum de Barcelona y Madrid en 2017-2018.
Dicha traducción se incluirá en el catálogo en inglés cuando la muestra, solo con obras del Museo del louvre de París, se inaugure en el Getty Centre de Los Ángeles en marzo de 2020.


While gleaming stone and marble suggest eternity, matte clay, in contrast, reminds us that time passes and destroys. But stone was lacking in the center and south of Mesopotamia. Only clay was present in abundance.
Clay was not an object of contempt. It came from the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, which traversed Mesopotamia from the Zagros Mountains to the Persian Gulf, and especially from the marshes of the south. But these were more than just real estate. They were the belly of a primeval divine entity, Apsûalso a name for the vital fresh waters. In the cosmology of the Epic of Creation, the Enuma Elish, these waters were a place under both heaven and earth but also a divine male entity who created the world through his union with the saltwater seas, the goddess Tiamat, the counterpart of the mother goddess Nammu, who gave birth to the gods themselves. In the Sumerian myth of the creation of humanity, Nammu has the idea to create humans as servants to the gods. She entrusts this task to her son, the great water god Enki, who reigned in his palace in or on the Apsû. With the help of the earth goddess Ninmah, he creates humans out of clay mixed with water, as he tells his mother: "Oh my mother, the creature you thought of, here it is ready for the work of the gods! Once you have mixed a parcel of clay taken from the banks of the Apsû, the clay from that matrix will be shaped." The clay that the builders used was the same as that they were made from, a living material provided by the gods who had given birth to the world.
Buildings were therefore also animate entities that required care. Builders made mud bricks from clay. A construction pledge, the cuneiform sign sig4 referred to "brick," "wall and brick," and perhaps also "city" in Sumerian. The clay body consisted of a mixture of crushed and filtered clay, water, and straw, which was then introduced into a wooden mold, unmolded, and allowed to dry in the sun on the ground. The straw, obtained from stems of cultivated grain, was necessary because it helped prevent the brick from deforming once removed from the mold before drying and hardening. Bricks could be made only in summer, when the soil was dry. Mud bricks were the fundamental element of any construction. When the first monumental buildings and the first cities were built, at Eridu and then Uruk, in southern Mesopotamia, at the end of the sixth millennium BC, brick had already existed for at least four thousand years, but the first bricks were modeled by hand only and looked like pebbles. Appearing no later than the sixth millennium, the mold allowed all bricks to be identical. Easy to stack and adjust, bricks made it possible for structureto be built according to plans and with geometric volumes that could then be enlarged as needed simply by extending the walls in both directions.
Mud bricks, however, had a major flaw: humidity affected them. While the center and the south of Mesopotamia enjoyed a very hot climate and still does, the water table was almost at ground level. The very slight slope of the Mesopotamian alluvial plain prevented the water from flowing rapidly into the sea. The rivers moved lazily and soaked the impermeable earth: the clay prevented the water from filtering through. So water from a basement easily rose through the foundations and load-bearing walls, which crumbled. Only their thickness prevented them from collapsing shortly after their construction, despite the insertion of layers of impermeable bitumen at different heights and coating with waterproof lime and braided bulrushes. 
Clay is a formless material that lends itself well to molding and makes it possible to build and decorate at the same time. The clay or terracotta decoration was part of the structure of the walls. It is not known if the buildings had gutters. Occasional but violent downpours damaged the facades, which, like the rest of the buildings, had to be regularly maintained.
The buildings of southern Mesopotamia resembled massive blocks with empty spaces cleared inside. The walls were wider than the interior spaces they delimited. It was not uncommon for walls to be three meters thick. But even this massiveness did not prevent the buildings from regularly needing restoration or rebuilding. As the water table was practically at ground level and the waters were brackish, the salt easily rose up the walls by capillarity and was deposited in layers on the surfaces of the mud bricks, which compounded the disintegration of the walls. An individual could see a building erected and collapse in the space of a lifetime. Architecture kept pace with the fleeting cycle of human life.
There were other solutionsboth practical and magicalfor protecting buildings. Fired bricks were waterproof but also more subject to stress. They were used to cover the exteriors of large buildings. They could not be used for all masonry work, because the lack of wood made it impossible to fire all the necessary bricks. The amount of straw needed to feed the kilns was much greater than what could be obtained from the cultivated fields. Furthermore, a straw fire does not burn long. Despite invocations to Kulla, the god of fire and bricks, fired bricks were therefore relatively rare. Some, however, were inserted into foundations and into the thickness of walls. These were special fired bricks. Food and preservatives such as milk, butter, honey, beer, and alcohol were added to the clay to nourish and protect the building. These bricks, which were sometimes larger than a conventional mud brick and often square, were inscribed with a prayer for divine protection, a curse against any who would try to destroy the building, and the name and titles of the sponsor (mostly the king), as well as sometimes a description of the foundation rituals that would follow. Inscriptions were necessary not only for the magical protection of the building but also for its functional survival. These bricks provided a description of the original edifice that was to be rebuilt or restored, along with the foundation ritual that was to be followed to the letter in order not to incur the risk of rejection or anger of the gods. 
Protection was also guaranteed by foundation deposits,terra-cotta or unfired clay figurines placed in walls and under floors. They represented supernatural gatekeepers or major deities related to the waters of creation, such as Lahmu, thereby associating the construction of the building, built in the image of the world, with the creation of the world.
What remains of them today? Shapeless mounds of clay covered with salt crusts, caused by the destruction of buildings by humans and nature, as well as by archaeological excavations as they cleared structures buried underground that crumbled on contact with wind, rain, and extreme temperature variations. Difficult to identify, foundations are all too often confused with the surrounding soil and dust. The low height of the unearthed walls makes it hard to know with certainty whether the buildings had one or more stories and to determine the type of roof used. Mesopotamian architecture is still and perhaps always will be misunderstood, making its study as frustrating as it is fascinating, search for any clues that may have survived.

jueves, 23 de mayo de 2019

....Y la Torre de Babel siguió alzándose



Durante milenios, los objetos de lujo se han producido, comercializado, disfrutado y hasta codiciado. Pero ¿cómo se estableció la asociación entre lujo y legitimación del poder? Si las culturas asirio-babilónicas construyeron entornos arquitectónicos y sensoriales para resaltar su poderío, también gozaron de refinadas piezas a las que accedieron a través de las redes comerciales establecidas gracias, en gran modo, a los fenicios. Por su parte, las invasiones persas y helenísticas generaron mitos y héroes vinculados a esa opulencia que han llegado a nuestros días.
Este ciclo propone un conjunto de conferencias con los expertos Pedro Azara,Helena Domínguez del TriunfoJordi Vidal,Rafael Argullol y Rocío Da Riva, en donde desarrollarán distintos aspectos del lujo como imagen del poder en la antigüedad.

La censura en el arte

Historia y decadencia....

El arte se volvió grandilocuente, oscuro o infantil; enigmático u obvio. Las figuras, cada vez más deformadas, hinchadas o grotescas, ensimismadas, levantando la mirada al cielo, cada vez más descomunales, contaban historias, durante decenas de páginas, frescos o relieves inabarcables, que solo algunos eruditos conocían.
Los efectos teatrales se multiplicaban. Se buscaba asombrar, impresionar, intentando que los efectos luminosos y sonoros, las dificultades técnicas escondieran la pobreza o la simpleza de las ideas, las propuestas. El arte era un circo. Se favorecían las naumaquias, las luchas circenses que no acaban nunca, los efectos sanguinarios. Se contentaba el gusto por lo absurdo, la fascinación por lo nunca visto -aunque tras una primera visión nada quedara, nada debía quedar para que la sed inextinguible de novedades perdurara. Lo sencillo debía mostrarse de manera retorcida o buscada. Los espectáculos eran colosales, las historias pesadas, rebuscadas, los efectos suplían la narración, lo maravilloso suplantaba la lógica. Cualquier obra de arte debía convertirse en una espectáculo teatral que debía superar, en luces, fuegos y sombras, a un anterior. La novedad primaba sobre la profundidad. Los efectos debían ser al mismo tiempo fáciles e imprevisibles. Los artistas querían sorprender, desorientar, seducir, cuando, siglos antes, habían intentado ilustrar a través de obras mesuradas y serenas, sin un deus ex machina final que supliera la lógica de la trama ni la consistencia de los personajes.
Se invertían ingentes sumas de dinero en los espectáculos. Éstos podían durar semanas. Algunas de las fiestas que conmemoraban la llegada de un nuevo emperador necesitaban de miles de figurantes y animales salvajes. Las luchas coreografiadas, casi siempre a muerte, eran un pozo sin fondo por el que se perdían fortunas y personas innombrables. Las ceremonias eran cortinas de humo que escondían la ruina física, económica y moral del imperio, a punto de derrumbarse, en medio de una fiesta perpetua. Gritos, luces deslumbrantes seguidas de la oscuridad, sonidos extraños y ensordecedores, relatos inveromísimiles, incomprensibles, la oscuridad en las historias y en las puestas en escena constituyendo el núcleo de las obras: los elementos narrativos y escenográficos que los últimos artistas romanos, muy bien pagados, manejaban, distraían y turbaban, a fin que nadie se diera cuenta de lo que se avecinaba -o, más bien, porque todo el mundo era consciente de lo que iba a ocurrir. Estábamos ya en el siglo quinto después de Cristo, y al Imperio Romano Oriental le quedaban pocos años de vida.
Sí, estoy resumiendo la célebre Historia y decadencia del Imperio Romano que Edward Gibbon escribió en el siglo XVIII. No, no me refiero a lo que se muestra en la presente Bienal de Arte de Venecia.