"The Soul of the Castoff "

Giacoma Limentani

The space we are in is white and airy. Outside the window running full length along the wall, tree branches sway in the wind, a testament to everyday reality. Inside, on a big rectangular table in the middle of the room, alternative realities advance in waves; simulacra of characters sweep in and out on every wave, each one an exemplar of an “other” reality.

Look more closely and one has the clear impression that this ebb and flow of waves is leaving behind historically and geographically traceable artefacts, as if each was a step along the path from cave-dwelling all the way through to modern-day homes and lifestyles, and yet here they are, born fossilized in legend.

Allow yourself to be piqued by a horizontally geographical curiosity and the view spans from a recognizable Far East to an even more realistic Far West. No totems are left unclaimed.

Faces forged by modern hands in resin or bronze respond to our collective imagination’s idea of authority, faith, seductiveness and ecstasy. And yet these visages emerge from a synthesis of customs; even if each remains true to the style typical of their particular wave, they are in fact montages of objects in abandon, stuff that has been cast off.

That saucepan lid held high in honour as a shield takes nothing away from the pride of the warrior who holds it aloft; the upside-down colander does nothing to diminish the class of the lady whom it graces, farthingale-style.

Our imagination conjures up a new presence from beneath that improbable farthingale: an external character whose vivacity undermines the others’ steadfastness. But why would our imagination evoke this character thus, without the texture of the others? Indeed, on the contrary imbuing it with the timeless voice of a true master?

This new presence speaks to the soul and opens our eyes, so mobile that proudly it overturns what, over the centuries of Hispanic triumph, was a searing – sometimes even mortal – insult. "Jo soy un judio de mierda" she shouts, "Y como judio de mierda vivii!"

Nothing is created and, more importantly, nothing is destroyed. The quote comes from a distinguished Sephardic rabbi long ago,ii inspired by the highest calling among the generally disparagable. For: “What is shit,” he asks, “if not a mixture of elements that cannot be assimilated by an organism at that time; which, blended with enzymes produced by that same organism, becomes fertilizer for new food? An admixture of offcasts as impossible to use now as they shall be indispensable in future?”

The voice fades away, the presence vanishes, the waves of characters continue to sweep in, onto the large rectangular table which has become the very emblem of inevitable ruin and the urgency of salvage; including the honour of eternal – nay, polyvalent – form. Yes. Nothing is created and nothing is destroyed.

Long before the professors arrive, it is the preserve of the artist to revive these castoffs and reveal the innermost breath of history. Through the panes of glass in the long walled window, tree branches sway in the wind outside, celebrating the day that is today.

1 - “I am a shitty Jew and it is as a shitty Jew that I’ve lived.”
2 - A scholar of Jewish/Spanish extraction.