the cathedral


Now, after having learned to observe the world, let's look at the objects around us in a different way, with the eye of the artist and discover the immensity of our "experience of light" and its influence on our perception of beauty.

Light is a metaphor of knowledge. "M'illumino d'immenso" - "I am illuminated by the infinity", - says a famous Italian poet Giuseppe Ungaretti. In fact, the theme of knowledge, briefly mentioned in the first room, can be fully understood only in "the cathedral" room.

Visitors take their seats like at the cinema. The stage is completely dark. There's a faint sound of distant bells. And then Andrea Soffiantini's voice recites Montale, Saba, Ungaretti's poetry… about light. The cathedral of Rouen, seemingly pending in the air, emerges from the darkness.
It is illuminated by 7 differently coloured lamps, which recreate contrasts of the sun and the sky during the day. Visitors assist to a show of poetry and lights, accompanied by Peter Maxwell Davies' music, where a classical melody contrasts with sharp and absolutely modern tones: two themes and two colours. The sky and the sun.

Later, the "pending" cathedral disappears and the real one, painted by Monet in a dozen of different lights, floods into the scene, projected in all its diversity on two screens, surrounding the public from two sides. The cathedral goes on stage together with Arvo Part's music: a magnificent chord of organ, whose spectrum slowly looses all its registers, leaving only an extremely sharp one - "the sky", and a low one - "the sun".

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Hundreds of paintings are presented in eight minutes of video. The sun and the sky dominate everywhere: not only in naturalistic paintings, but also in the reproductions of interiors and portraits. Alongside more abstract paintings, apparently completely detached from any experience, colours and their chromatic combination reveal a deep and definite relation with a reality. The reality of light, made of the sun and the sky.

Guided by the actor, who shows all the dynamics of this discovery, spectators find themselves on the threshold of the re-discovery of their own lives, where they can reflect on their personal experience of nature in the plenitude of its colours.

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During the performance the actor, the guide, behaved as if he were guided by himself. Sometimes he was opening a book on a support and reading extracts on natural phenomena or suggestions on how to put the experiments in operation. He was following a "master". And at the end this invisible master enters the stage. He appears in one of the screens and starts an engaging and dramatic dialogue with the actor. The discussion evolves about art masterpieces (such as Caravaggio's "Thomas" or Rembrandt's "The Prodigal Son"), whose details slide on the other screen, placed in front of the first one.

What is the relation between the knowledge of nature and that of man?
Knowledge implies a kind of sacrifice. It is like in Massimo Troisi's film "The Postman". The protagonist of the film (Mario) discovers the real beauty of his land, the beauty, which he searched for so long, only when he describes it to his master (the poet Pablo Neruda). The discovery touches the postman, when he records this beauty for the poet, who apparently abandoned him after having shown him the way. The postman tells about this beauty, wishing to defend the truth of his real experience. Mario dies for this beauty, as just like Troisi, while shooting the film. Through this action Mario forgives his master the same way as "The Prodigal Son" forgives his father. It is in this strange affection, in which the man forgives the one by whom he was forgiven, that we are not afraid anymore of the limit of knowledge.



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