The Names of Time
Invited to participate in the 53rd Venice Biennale, Wolf chose to conceive a piece for the Tese delle Vergini, now known as the Italian Pavilion.
Holding a camera with an open shutter, Wolf stood in front of a movie projector, allowing the camera to capture the vibrations of his body and breath while immersed within the beam of light. The image produced, and projected onto a single wall in the pavilion, is the result of countless film frames absorbed by a single photo frame.
The piece established an active relationship between the two-dimensional image, the vibration of light, the architectural space, and the sound reflected by the walls of the Tese delle Virgini. In addition, visitors to the pavilion became active components of the work as the interchange between light, walls, and sound bounced off of their bodies. In effect, the piece was a summation of people and place.
Silvio Wolf has designed Luci Bianche (White Lights) working on the memory of the Refettorio (Refectory), the iconography of the Stelline (Little Stars: the name of the female orphans who once lived there), and the architectural space of the former female orphanage.
The artist was inspired by the original images that he researched in the historical archive of Pio Albergo Trivulzio, another historical institution in Milan; he photographically transformed and simultaneously projected them in a fixed form on the North wall of the space. This creates a single 65-meter-long image that seamlessly represents the Stelline’s faces transfigured by light.
The alternating of presence and absence of white light reflected from the wall gives life to an original binary code: a constellation of new faces is fixed to the architectural structure of the Refectory.
The rooting with the history of the place is also represented by the presence of ten tables placed along the South side of the gallery, according to the arrangement of the original dining tables.
They scan the space along its entire length and 20 TV sets are placed on them. The simultaneous broadcast of the videos diffuses the uninterrupted flow of the Stars faces in the hall.
Fragments of white voices emitted by each video channel elaborate the sound memory of the community that inhabited this place for more than two centuries until the ’70s of the XX Century.
Silvio Wolf acts on time and space through the creation of new generations of images.
The place and light are together the object and means of his work. Origins and new creations interact in the very space that originally generated them. The photographic images, videos and digital sounds actualize and transform its memory. The welding between intangible elements of tradition and contemporary languages is the key to the symbolic reading of this work.
List of the languages of the 40 Bibles
1) Algunquin (Canada)
2) James Bay Cree of Québec
4) Lao (Thailand)
5) Panjabi (India)
6) Gaelic (Irland)
9) Eastern Artic Inuktitut
10) Moose Cree
11) German (Lutherext)
18) Mi’emaq (Canada)
25) Créole Haitien
27) Grec modern
29) Tagalog (Philippines)
30) Russian (cirillic)
33) Northern Ojibwe (American Indian)
La Zone d’Ombre
The installation consists of six photo-pieces and six feminine voices interacting together in the architectural space of the bloc cellulaire.
The photo-pieces originate from QuebÈcoise oil paintings from the 18th and 19th century. The identities of the male figures in the pictures have vanished, burnt out by light reflected off the surfaces of the pictures. The museum light lighting the original paintings have produced a virtual wipe out (strappo). Photography was the medium: light was the cause and the effect. In six dimmly lit cells each Icon generates its own light: its own virtual new identity. The six pieces have different sizes and perspectives; each one interacts in a different way with light, structure and perspective of its cell.
The installation involves the physical presence and the perception of the visitors entering La Zone d’Ombre. They can cross the Picture gallery walking along the corridor and enter the cells facing up to an Icon, perceiving a distinctive sound. The ambiguity of perception between museum light reflected by the pictures, virtual light generated by the Icons and subtle presence of sound contradicts the traditional way of displaying pictures in Museums. It challenges the certainty of what is seen, where things actually are and how we perceive them.
The original structure of the jail doesn’t conceal nor overwhelm the art work. Instead it reinforces its idea and perception. The architecture and its memory, the pictures and the sounds interact defining a new relation-site. This work finds it’s necessity in the very place of it’s conception.
La Zone d’Ombre is conceived as an exhibition of contemporary Photography and as an installation investigating the Museum Language at the same time. It defines the territory of a “Metamuseum”which exhibits simultaneously itself as a Place of memory and as an Art object on its own. Thus visitors can enter both the restored Bloc cellulaire of the old jail on the Plains, and the Zone d’Ombre of the MusÈe du QuÈbec.
The installation questions the origins of the place (Quèbec, it’s Founders, their Icons) and of the space (The Jail, The Museum). Furthermore it adds a third level of perception to the idea of a “Metamuseum” through the use of sound: the artist’s origins are symbolically represented by six different and fragmented feminine voices. They give sound to his linguistic roots which are spread all over Europe. These languages are: Polish and Hebrew (from the Father’s side), Hungarian, Triestino, and Italian (from the Mother’s side); German (from the wife’s side, prolonged onto his children’s culture).
The statement “Vous Ítes dans le Zone d’Ombre” means to the visitors that they have entered a site marked by three symbolic identities at the same time:
1) The Picture Gallery. The Identity of the Founders of Quèbec: the origins of the Place.
2) The Bloc cellulaire. The Identity of the Space: the origins of the Museum.
3) The Elsewhere. The Identity of the Artist: the origins of his Life.
Angels of Time
A wind of memory
has laid the images of the children
of the Grand-Ducal Family of Luxembourg
on the rampants of the city.
The white icons of the infants
rest all scattered in the garden
like migrant birds of time.
The mankind, the origins of the world,
the symbols of power, of the city and life
reappear in the present time.
The immaterial and sonant icons of the world of infants voices chase each other round the valley and the garden.
Silvio Wolf, 2001
Site-specific urban installation for the City of Luxembourg
Photography (40 c-prints, cm 200 x 100 each) and sound (recorded infant voices in the public urban space (Italian style garden).
The installation is made of 40 large format photographs of the children of the Grand-Ducal family, which have been reproduced from original post cards from the early 20° Century and by the diffusion of the sound of voices of playing, calling and shouting infants.
The pictures are placed over the green and the paths of the Italian-styled garden upon the large rampant overlooking the Petrusse Valley. The voices spread around the garden and the surrounding areas so that the installation can be seen and heard from the Roosvelt Boulevard, from the terrace in front of the Casino Luxembourg and from Place de la Constitution.
The Casino Luxembourg – Forum d’art contemporain takes part in the exhibition Luxembourg, les Luxembourgeois, organised by the Musée d’Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg from 31 March to 14 October 2001, with three projects realised by Sylvie Blocher, Sanja Ivekovic and Silvio Wolf in different public places in the city of Luxembourg. The projects, presented from 31 March to 3 June 2001, cast an outside look at the social, historical and cultural life of the people of Luxembourg.
Silvio Wolf’s (Milan, 1952) project Angeli del Tempo [The Angels of Time] evokes the passing of time, the (pretended) innocence of childhood, the themes of fate/destiny and power. Some forty photographs (enlarged to 2 x 1 m) showing the Grand Duke Jean as a child with his brothers and sisters at the beginning of the 1920s, are scattered about a terrace – now laid out as an Italian garden – of the ancient fortress. The terrace, dominated by the national flag, is situated halfway down between the upper city and the Pétrusse valley which it overhangs. To draw the walkers’ attention – for whom, a priori, the photographs are not immediately visible –, sound tracks have been placed high up on the battlements and diffuse the laughters and cries of children playing, together with the singing of birds. Puzzled, the passers-by will run their eyes over the ramparts and discover the photographs blurred by the light of children whose destiny has been very special.
Threshold of Words
Sunday by Sunday
Sunday by Sunday
NON-SEASONAL MODERN ORGAN MUSIC OF MODERATE DIFFICULTY FOR USE BEFORE AND AFTER SERVICE
1) LIVE CONTAINERS
Two building containers in the garden telling fragments of witnesses recorded voices: fragments of memories, thoughts and visions about the fire, the church, and the community.
2) SCATTERED SCORES
Pages of burned music scores scattered by the wind of memory around the garden.
3) DARKROOM OF THE VOICES
Acoustic fragments of the choristers voices diffused in the obscure choir vestry.
The three-part installation Sunday by Sunday uses sound, light, photography and music to evoke the story of the catastrophe and the unquenchable life of the church.
Outside the west end, containers hold relics from the fire – half burnt statues, bits of candelabra, even nails and bits of wood. From these containers, the voices of two people who witnessed the fire emerge, breathing the story in half-heard fragments of sound, while sheets of music damaged by fire and water carry the message in a visual form. The third part of Wolf’s installation is in the strange vault-like space which was at the heart of the fire – the vestry and the choir practice room beneath it. Here the artist has created visual images of the church, its physical destruction and its spiritual life, accompanied by echoes of the choir as they practise for Sunday services.
WORDS OF WITNESSES
Performed within the containers
… on June 9th 2000 the first thing that I heard was the phone ringing and it was our vicar Robert Titley and he said: ”Ted I’m ringing around telling people: the church is on fire!“, and my answer was:” Coming!”…
… by the time I came around, the roof over the sanctuary and the roof over the nave were gone and all one could see was spouts of flames still coming out and we could only just look to think how our wonderful church where we had beautiful services had utterly gone; it was something like a film set, or something that reminded me of the war and here it was our beautiful church gone; it was indescribable, it brought tears to our eyes, I could only look at the other people around, the church members, and we just held each other and I just wiped the tears from my eyes, I couldn’t believe it. There was one good thing: the Lady Major organised the neighbours to make tea for us, and that was helpful as a comfort to know that other people were around. One very touching moment was: we were watching one of the chaps who I knew, an older chap about 70 or 75 who used to come to the jumble sales, I recognised him, he recognised me, and he could see how utterly devastated we were, and he just came and put his arm across my shoulder as a comfort, he didn’t have to say anything else, that was all that was required, he was with us, he was sorry, he couldn’t do any more …
… was the church going to just fold and were we going to be dispersed? We are a good community here, a good church and many activities and I always felt this church was a power house for God for positive goodness … why did the Lord let it happen?…
… I felt very sad about it, but still I was grateful that there was no one inside, I could easily have been inside myself ecause I used to spend a lot of time inside the basement in the choir vestry dealing with music and so forth…
… I did actually think of course that probably all the music had gone up in flames, and then I thought again myself that as I knew it was under a stone floor, a lot of it might have escaped … and all my organ music went up in the flames…
… the roof was still intact but you could see the whole church was glowing inside … the whole of the church was alight inside so that at some points the flames just burst through the roof and then you realised that possibly not much was going to be left … pieces were flying through the air … the heat seemed ferocious … it was bigger than words … a huge shell which was completely alight inside … what was quite dramatic was that you gradually saw more of the fire inside as the outside began to disappear… … the bare bones of the church were left, then the timber started to come down … it was just a ghostly ruin with a bit of smoke coming out, and that whole process took about five hours … it was very tragic and quite unreal, but I couldn’t stop watching and thinking … it was like an enormous piece of drama … it made me think about the elements and humanity …
… it has been part of my landscape for the last fifteen years, the church is almost part of my house, I looked at it in the evening, and in the morning, I felt fond of it, I liked having the church there, I liked when the light went on in the evening… … something that is very close to me is being destroyed in front of my eyes … and I still look outside and I like the look that I have at the moment, but now you actually see the sky through the building… the light reflects on the walls, they light up the shell of the church sometimes … that is all very nice to see …
… I just couldn’t believe my eyes… it was going up just rather like a volcano, it was a beautiful clear blue sky and a sunny morning and there was this absolute horrid fire down the road and I had a perfect view of it … and I thought I must be dreaming … and I stood there watching the fire getting worse and worse…
… what I was seeing I felt quite paralysed by, and then I thought of the terrible loss, not just to the congregation who worshipped there, but to the whole community to whom that building had meant so much over more than a hundred years…
….Music is one thing that actually kept the church going … it certainly played its part in keeping the moral of the church going.
“…we have a good range of people that can sing here, it’s a real pleasure to listen to them, and again it’s really essential to hear a good choir because that brings people’s mind to God, and that is the whole point of them, they are not there for their own benefit, they are there to help us worship…”
In 2008, the Region Arts Council in Piedmont, Italy invited a group of artists to produce “art in nature.” Wolf responded with Chance, a digital print on vinyl submerged into the Stura River.
Working with light and the environment, Wolf juxtaposed the naturally flowing water of the river with a still image of a rim of water. For Wolf, the ever-flowing water stood as a metaphor for the “river of time” while the still image gave onlookers the ‘chance’ to pause and reflect upon the frozen image in the moment.
In so doing, Wolf merged the movement of time with the idleness of time. Chance remained on-site for one month.
Pian Cerreto manca d’identità. Nulla la caratterizza e nulla accade. Come per la crescita delle piante, gli eventi di questo luogo sono impercettibili. Una serra sperimentale ad alto contenuto tecnologico giace abbandonata. La vegetazione al suo interno é cresciuta a dismisura fino ad invaderla completamente. L’interno é impenetrabile. A fatica se ne intravvede la struttura dei bancali. All’esterno i pannelli solari sono ricoperti dalla vegetazione. Tutto é abbandonato e dismesso. La Natura ha ricoperto la Cultura.
Il progetto prevede di:
1) Liberare la serra
La bonifica della serra al suo interno per riportarla alla condizione originale di luogo per la cura e la crescita delle piante secondo la regola e le necessità umane.
2) Crescere i nomi
La messa a dimora di giovani querce di un anno (Cerri), la loro custodia, cura e crescita.
Contestualmente la raccolta dei nomi. Tutti i nomi degli 80 abitanti del paese vengono detti e moltiplicati da una voce femminile, memoria e testimone della vita di tutti gli abitanti del paese.
3) Radicare la vita
Dopo circa un anno la messa a dimora perenne degli alberelli a formare un piccolo bosco (Pian dei Cerri): una scultura vivente.
L’intervento si basa sul Nome del Luogo come unico elemento riconoscibile della sua identità. Tale identità viene riconosciuta, attuata e comunicata attraverso la moltiplicazione del “nome”, l’elemento fondatore di senso del luogo e dell’azione al suo interno.
Nota post scriptum:
“Qui c’é poco,
C’é già tutto.
E’ il presente infinito.
Nel luogo al quale non appartengo
mi sento a casa.
Là dove non ero mai stato
Silvio Wolf, 1999