the Golden Age and the Apocalypse
The "Cupí degli Uccelli" at this Venice Biennale follows
a long series of installations by Cardillo that put forth matters ranging
from an aesthetic dimension to a concern with ethics and survival. Thus,
he re-creates the circumstances, sites and places of indigenous matrix
cultures whose lives, in symbiosis with their natural environment, are
confronted with the contemporary world.
Cupí is the Guaraní name for the mounds created by a certain
type of ants in our countryside. Through it, Cardillo alludes metaphorically
to the mounds or "cerritos", elevations of earth that can
be found from the south-eastern United States to the north-eastern regions
of Uruguay. These are a paleo-historical compound of the cultures that
settled in those territories. Like the Cupí, the "cerrito"
is a formation created patiently and collectively through the addition
of co-ordinated efforts.
The intention of the artist is at all times all-embracing and syncretic.
The ceramics in the Cupí, for example, represent animals whose
habitat primarily corresponds to places where the artist has lived.
The armadillo, turtles, alligators, raccoons, fish, birds, as well as
the mounds are signs from the North and South of our Americas: from
the marshland of Rocha (Uruguay) to the Hudson River Valley. They refer
to fossils, to dead animals whose bodies were the casts for these sculptures.
It is also syncretic to include the silkscreened image of Tlazolteotl
in a big mirror, this mother goddess of the Nahua pantheon in Mexico,
identified with fertility, creation, giving birth. With her, the space
of the installation becomes sacralized and evokes a place where heaven
copulates with the earth. But the audience, instead of witnessing births,
perceives fossils, dead animals, whether it be in the ceramics or the
xilographed canvases or in the mirrors silkscreened with brief sketches
and texts by the artist. The goddess in a mirror, a truly luminous theophany,
gives back the reflection of the installation superimposed on her image,
as well as that of those who are touring the labyrinth of facing mirrors.
Thus, each one experiences the vision of his amazed image, prying into
the meaning of life, in the multiplying echoes that watch, provoke,
interrogate, demanding us to take on a chief role.
Our changing reflections, in rhythm with assorted points of view, are
those that place time in the immobility of the myth.
Arcadian circularity was violated long ago. Time as the moving image
of eternal immobility, as St. Augustine said, looks for a way out of
its cycles. The sacred space evokes it, remembers it. Longs for it?
The steps and the voices crack it and contaminate it.
Every element, every part, every object in this installation, acquires
meaning through its interaction with each other. They were already talking
to each other, in whispers, when they were alone. Our intrusion has
forever unsettled their reciprocal understanding.