Since Hannah Arendt regarded love as the essence of the revolutionary spirit, since the counterculture of the sixties claimed it as a subversive force, this original impulse of the human condition has had to abandon the old-fashioned romanticism that reduces it to a flat, narcotizing emotion.
The title of the exhibition Don’t You Think It’s Time For Love? in the Moscow Museum of Modern Art is taken from the homonymous action that the artist Sharon Hayes carried out in the financial district of Manhattan in 2007: loudspeaker in hand, which harangued before the absent-minded passers-by, immersed in their technological prosthetics, not was for student reforms but a letter of unrequited love, although surreptitiously one could hear anti-war expressions.
This piece is not shown in this collective, but it addresses the tentacular vision of love that will prevail in the exhibition, its way of push the limits, where the personal becomes political, the intimate becomes public and communication is transformed in soliloquy.
In Cut Piece (1965), Yoko Ono understood love as a gift, trusting that the public would agree with her Zen understanding of letting herself cut out pieces of clothing as a self-liberating gesture, a selfless giving. It was not always so, because sometimes the interaction was loaded with sexual connotations that a priori did not have. The ambiguous nature of love is manifested even in an act so supposedly altruistic as this.
Love can be colder than death, and following the slogan of Fassbinder is in that affective polarity where the contradictory essence of the human being is more manifested. Tracey Moffatt, in her video Love (2003), made of fragments taken from countless films of all genres (romantic comedy, drama, adventures, black cinema …), sampled the cinematographic affectation of those extremes, emphasizing what Hollywood deprived of nuances, going without transition from the passionate kiss to the angry slap.
Kiss (1963) by Andy Warhol is the antithesis to this ironic collection of staged love’s clichés: the boy-meets-girl model is opposed with a broad hetero, gay and lesbian combinatorial; in front of the frantic montage chooses to show the natural rhythm of life, long and slow kisses, without climax but without pause.
Eli Cortiñas, like Moffatt, deconstructs the filmic imagery by re-editing fragments, proposing other readings, sometimes delving into those feminine psyches that classical cinema enclosed at home as sighing Penelopees. In Confessions with an open curtain (2011) the curtain is an extension of the woman, which we see as anonymous back or whose presence is suggested by that run and pull of the drape, mirroring the swing between veiling and the unveiling of her consciousness. The confessional-curtain also acts as a metaphor for the feeling of guilt rooted in those stereotypes of anxious domestic females or ruthless blondes, now atomizing themselves into infinite potentialities of being, unsolvable and unspeakable.
By Cortiñas can also be seen Fin (2016), which repeats in loop a fragment of the final credits of Truffaut’s La sirène du Mississipi, a simple but eloquent resource in its way to thwart the expectations of the spectator, conditioned as he is by the conventions of narrative cinema, to which is added the ambiguity of the image: a couple holding hands and walking into an alpine forest, amidst stormy buzz, can reveal the supremacy of love or to presage a fatal destiny.
Love is fury, excess, contrariety, a long road that leads us to divinity, to spiritual knowledge and fusion with the object of desire; the hunter becomes a prey, the lover in the beloved, Acteon is reintegrated into nature.
This was the view of the Renaissance philosopher Giordano Bruno, whose treatise on eroici furori has inspired Gabriella Ciancimino‘s mural display, an horror vacui of ivy and bodies on which she seems to map other possible genealogies of Adam and Eve. The weeds symbolize for Ciancimino subversive love, the only one capable of growing in wastelands, able of crossing all frontiers.
About crossing borders was also the proposal of love that presented Nuria Güell with Ayuda humanitaria (2013), but here the word love was only a safe-conduct, poetry as a weapon of survival. Nuria promised to marry the Cuban man who wrote her the most beautiful love letter. The fiction becomes reality with the marriage contract, the Cuban acquires the Spanish nationality and the project evidences the hypocritical euphemism of the expression “humanitarian aid”, so fallacious as the rethoric that adorns a convenience love.
In contrast, in the Akram Zaatari‘s video Tomorrow everything will be alright, the epistolary literature is trench warfare, crossed missiles loaded with desire and longing but poisoned of reproaches and mistrust. Everything happens on the paper typed by an old typewriter, technological obsolescence that contrasts with the validity of their feelings despite the time that has elapsed since they were lovers, perhaps clandestinely because of their homosexuality, in convulsive postwar Lebanon.
But now the sentences of one and the other are interspersed on the same paper as if an internet chat were. Although it could also be the script of a romantic film, to which the last sentence points with the promise of a meeting before sunset, to see together the mythical green ray, twilight phenomenon that to say of Jules Verne reveals mysteries of the soul for those who can see it.
A wink to the homonymous film of Eric Rohmer and to the flash of hope that evoques the last frame. Hope to come to understand the other and yourself. In any case, we agree with Rilke that loving is just to keep the other’s loneliness.
Personal, political and social are spheres with multiple points of intersection also in the work of the rest of artists included in this huge exhibition, such as Félix González-Torres, Sophie Calle, Ion Grogorescu, Jonas Mekas …
Don’t You Think it’s time for love
Artistic director: Viktor Misiano
MMOMA, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, until 08/01/2017