Canto III

2023, videoperformance, Piesberg Quarry, Osnabrück, Germania

At the sites of human and natural resource exploitation, the quarry and the mine, a group of individuals run around in circles with the sole purpose of following a white banner without any declaration. Our species has transformed from a simple biological agent into a geological force, as described in the article 'The Climate of History' by Dipesh Chakrabarty (2009). This is one of the reasons why the scientific community has referred to the current geological epoch as the 'Anthropocene', in which human beings with their activities have changed spatial and climatic structures, impacting geological processes (Crutzen 2000). Some researchers coincide the beginning of the Anthropocene with the onset of industrialisation, the massive exploitation of fossil fuels, the emergence of synthetic products, and species extinctions (Lovelock 2019).

The project

The project, a series of videos and videoperformances, was realized in the Piesberg mine and quarry in Osnabrück. The series is inspired by the Canto III of Hell from Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. In these verses, Dante and Virgil meet the "Ignavi": those who during their life have never acted for good or for evil, limiting themselves to always following the ideas of those in power. In this Canto we see the "law of retaliation" implemented for the first time, a principle that regulates the punishment that affects the offenders through the opposite of their guilt or by analogy to it. Dante describes their pain like this: they are forced to chase naked for eternity a white 'nsign (a banner without any representation or declaration) that runs fast and turns on itself, a symbol of their inability to decide, while wasps and blowflies they sting them all the time. The 'nsegna: a banner, interpreted by some as a worthless rag.

The action in the performance is directly inspired by the punishment described by Dante in the third canto of the Inferno dedicated to the 'Slothful': a group of performers, one of whom carries a large white banner ('nsegna'), proceeds in a line through the spaces of the quarry and the mine.