Between the Golden Age and the Apocalypse / Clever Lara

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.