If you’ve been keeping up with the blog then you’ve already heard about the incredible art show, Biennale, in Venice that Alexis blogged about. If not, just know that this art exhibition is like no other in that it features just one artist from each of the 89 countries involved. This exhibition only takes place once every few years and to have had the opportunity to see it in person was truly incredible. One piece in particular stood out to me as the artist drew inspiration from Dante’s Divine Comedy.
The work itself is a celestial chart depicting constellations constructed from red and yellow taillights against a black background made to look like the night sky. According to one very helpful exhibition worker this is what the piece means: the use of every day, man-made materials represents humanity and its accomplishments, while placing the taillights in the shape of constellations represents humanity’s constant desire to both figuratively and literally reach for the stars. Each of the three books in Dante Aligh-
ieri’s Divina Commedia- Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso- end in the word ‘stelle’ or ‘stars’ and just like the art piece, this is to call attention to humanity looking toward the heavens to find meaning, purpose, and inspiration. Dante’s Inferno, in particular, deals with the theme of human desire and how if we succumb to our baser desires, we might just end up in hell suffering grotesque, albeit creative, tortures for all eternity. Interestingly enough, the Australian artwork has the word ‘desire’ written in three different languages along the top curve of the circular celestial chart. This is to tie in the common thread of desire throughout all humanity despite cultural differences or boundaries.
One of the greatest things about this trip is that the knowledge we have been gaining in class is very applicable to the places we’ve been visiting. In Dr. Streufert’s class we read selections from Dante’s Inferno and even on a non-school funded trip to Venice, my friends and I saw a modern artwork that was referencing Dante. It just goes to show that everything we are learning about, even if it’s a comedy from the Renaissance period, remains relevant in the art world and is still affecting different cultures and people around the world today.