Canto III

2023, videoperformance, Piesberg Quarry, Osnabrück, Germania

Coal, historically a fundamental resource for the development of the industrial revolution, is today one of the factors triggering the climate crisis.

In the place of exploitation of human and natural resources, the lignite quarry, a group of individuals goes around in a circle with the sole purpose of following a white banner without any declaration.

Our species has transformed from a simple biological agent to 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 defined the current geological epoch as the "Anthropocene", in which human beings with their activities have modified territorial and climatic structures, impacting on geological processes (Crutzen 2000). Some researchers make the beginning of the Anthropocene coincide with the beginning of the industrialization of the massive exploitation of fossil fuels, the birth of synthetic products and the extinctions of species (Lovelock 2019).

As with the "Law of retaliation" described in Dante's Divine Comedy, in this historical moment humanity is suffering the consequences of its mistakes. But this issue is still not taken seriously by a large part of the population. Studies on the Anthropocene are not perceived as scientific analyzes and therefore real possibilities but as socio-political opinions that can be avoided. The artistic research undertaken for this project relies on anthropological and aesthetic studies, which tend to explore new paths for the design of new forms of communication with the intention of provoking the critical thinking of the viewer, contributing to his awareness.

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 performances will be directly inspired by the punishment described by Dante in the third canto of the Inferno dedicated to the "Ignavi": a group of performers, one of them holding a large white standard ('nsegna), proceeds in line crossing the spaces of the quarry and the mine.