Devir/Davar

Surfing time along Mediterranean Routes. Hora – Chants of the Middle Sea. Kolot, a sea of voices. DEVIR / DAVAR: from the ruins of the Temple to the perennial Book.

A project by Euforia Costante/Finnegans Percorsi culturali – Padua, curated by Massimo Donà and Luigi Viola. With the participation of Veneto Region and  Municipality of Venice (scroll down for details)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 – Querini Stampalia Foundation (Auditorium), 4:00 – 8:00 pm:  I MOLTI MODI DELLA VERITÁ. Tra Dialogo e Conflittualitá (The Many Ways of Truth: Between Dialogue and Conflict).

Sunday, June 12, 2016 – Querini Stampalia Foundation (Auditorium), 4:00 – 8:00 pm: SCRITTURA E TESTIMONIANZA. Un dire al “futuro” (Writing and Testimony: Speaking in the “Future Tense”).

May 15th-June 5th – Palazzo Albrizzi Capello, Cannaregio 4118, Contemporary Art Exhibition: B’TEVA: LANDSCAPES OF EXISTENCE. B’TEVA PAESAGGI DELL’ESISTENZA

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016 – Querini Stampalia Foundation (Auditorium), 4:00 – 8:00 pm:  

 I MOLTI MODI DELLA VERITÁ. Tra Dialogo e Conflittualitá (The Many Ways of Truth: Between Dialogue and Conflict). Introduction by Luigi Viola, moderation by Davide Assael. With contributions by Rav Giuseppe Laras, Vittorio Robiati Bendaud, Giulio Maspero, and Massimo Donà. Opening remarks by Paolo Gnignati (President of the Jewish Community of Venice), Rav Scialom Bahbout (Chief Rabbi of Venice), and Luigi Brugnaro (Mayor of Venice).

The event will continue with a CONCERT by the Paul Klee Quartet (music by Philip Glass, Erwin Schuloff, and John Zorn) and a READING of poems by contemporary Israeli authors with actress Carla Stella.

 Sunday, June 12, 2016 – Querini Stampalia Foundation (Auditorium), 4:00 – 8:00 pm

 SCRITTURA E TESTIMONIANZA. Un dire al “futuro” (Writing and Testimony: Speaking in the “Future Tense”). Introduction by Luigi Viola, moderation by Davide Assael. With contributions by Donatella Di Cesare, Stefano Levi Della Torre, Valerio Magrelli. Opening remarks by Paolo Navarro Dina (Spokesman for the Jewish Community of Venice) and Cristiano Corazzari (City Councilor for Culture of the Veneto Region).

The event will continue with a Baroque cello CONCERT by Claudio Ronco and Emanuela Vozza (music by Jacopo Basevi a.k.a. Cervetto and James Cervetto) and a READING of poems by Israeli authors from 1500 until today with actress Carla Stella.

This project commemorates the 500th anniversary of the foundation of the Venice Ghetto with two overarching, tightly interlocked metaphors. The first is the spatial metaphor of the Middle Sea as “motherland”: a liquid landscape home to great monotheistic cultures, to their dialogues and conflicts. With its shifting, fluid forms and the reflexes of its history – still brimming with life – Venice is their symbol and epiphany. The second is the metaphor of the Book (Sefer HaTorah), which generated all the fundamental, eternal rules of civilized, communal living, away from the barbarism of idolatry. This path in time was reinforced by the interaction with the “otherness” – even hostility – of the Hellenic Western tradition. The Book gathers the Word’s complex itinerary from East to West, and becomes a token of the Hope (HaTikvah) the Jewish people preserved for centuries and in most tragic circumstances by incessantly drawing from the teachings (Torah) of the Book .

All contemporary cultures – not only Jewish culture – are traversed by these very roots and drew from Jewish sources such as the kabbalah or the wisdom of the chachamim (wise men), whether directly or indirectly. If we examine the pillars of our cultural complexity, we realize it has been built on peaceful premises such as the respect for one’s neighbor and the minimization of conflict. The words and deeds of the wise men of the past reflect these principles. By contrast, those who preach violence, racial and religious hatred, and the annihilation of others as the condition for one’s existance indulge in criminal distortions and instumentalizations of these very principles. For this reason, we believe it is necessary to make use of the chance to commemorate the anniversary of the foundation of the Ghetto, which on the one hand was a most unfortunate event for the Jewish community, but, on the other hand, can still teach a positive lesson and bring us closer to the teachings of the Wise Men. A way to make this happen is certainly to relate the imperative to reflect on philosophy and culture with the experience of art.

Art, in fact, provides irrefutable evidence that messages of tolerance and mutual acceptance can still be heard and put into practice, so that men and peoples may live together with dignity on the same, benevolent earth.

Since Antiquity, the Middle Sea has presented us with shared models of creativity and coexistance that may inspire our actions. Today, it reminds us of our responsibility towards the future, asking us to adopt an ethics of care and preserve its role, to prevent any of this richness from getting lost.

May 15th-June 5th – Palazzo Albrizzi, Contemporary Art Exhibition: B’TEVA: LANDSCAPES OF EXISTENCE

Curated by Pier Paolo Scelsi – Texts in the catalogue by Massimo Donà and Luigi Viola, Mario Sillani Dierrahjan, Pier Paolo Fassetta, Tobia Ravà, Mauro Sambo, Raffaella Toffolo, Luigi Viola.

The expression “landscapes of existence” communicates the idea of landscape as a series of experienced places within which the contemporary individual operates, conducting and giving shape to an aesthetic, but above all ethical experiment. Such a landscape, Éric Dardel notes, can be considered a full manifestation of existence, as, to put it with philosopher Massimo Venturi Ferriolo, the act of contemplating a landscape is inseparable from living within it. In our case the artist, by directing his or her glance between the visible and the invisible, gains access to the realm of meaning and to the net of possible interpretations. But everybody can and should do this exercise. This way, landscape breaks free from its pre-established framework and gives us more reasons to sing its praises.

Literally, B’Teva means in nature, intended by Jewish culture as Creation – also expressed by the word Olam (םלוע) or world, which has approximately the same meaning. Besides world, olam also means eternal, which makes us aware of a specific feature of creation, where time and space converge into one single experience.

The idea of Nature (physis) in ancient Greek philosophy provides a fundamental conceptual framework to the primary symbolic relation which sparked the idea of logos that was so essential to the pagan cosmologies of the ancient civilizations. For millennia, the logos projected its gigantic cultural shadow on philosophy, art, science, and, ultimately, on the modern idea of landscape as theatre of the aesthetic experience and an attempt to solve the dualism between nature and artifice – a polarity that dominated the history of the Hellenized Occident.

None of the nature-related terms in the Scriptures is comparable to physis, which translates as life-giver and active creator, and always stands in a relation of dependency on God. The idea of nature as a sacred, independent creator and the product of a causal determinism whose rationale lies in nature itself is missing in Jewish culture. This is the primary and most direct consequence of the Jewish understanding of God as a transcendent entity, and of the world as creation, rather than pure nature.

Logos, or rationality, is also oppositional to Teva and Olam. The Stoic philosophers located the generative principle of the universe in the logos spermatikos. By contrast, for the Jew the world moves because one supreme will directs it towards an end he does not even dare to investigate. He feels that reason places him only a little lower than divinity, but he is also convinced that reason is conditioned and given by God (Giorgio Israel). This means that knowledge has its source outside nature. In nature, therefore, the Hebrew can only “observe the greatness of a work that had been completed before he could admire it. The sky with its innumerable stars spreads above his head, the work of a hand that is not his own, animated by a voice that does not reach him. In the depth of his conscience, instead, there is an equally endless world where he feels not only that he really exists, but also that he is very close to God; it is here that he knows he is only a little lower than God. Even when everything is still, he feels another universe stirring inside him, whose infinity and most secret ways he can comprehend. It is the Ethical universe, his universe, the one he walks with other men, and where God does not appear as an obscure form moving things, but principally and exclusively as intelligence that governs the supreme harmony of human coexistence and ensures the freedom and perfect equality of all consciences.”

Hebraism introduced a new universe, a moral world whose main scope is to establish the correct distance between men and God, between nature and its Creator. What divides the Jewish world from the pagan, Gershom Scholem explains, is the introduction of a transcendent dimension that is alien to the latter, and to Greek philosophy in particular.

This dualism, this unbridgeable gulf between God and men, strips Nature of its role as theatre of human interaction and replaces it with “the morality and religiosity of the individual and of the community, whose interaction generates history. In a way, history is the stage on which the drama of the relationship between man and God unfolds.”

In the light of our awareness of the meaning and role men and nature have within the Creation, we can now imagine what “living in nature” means in Jewish culture. Besides, I believe that these considerations allow us to understand that the landscape we most urgently need nowadays is solely the one generated by the moral awareness of our relationship with the Creation. We need to go beyond naturalist idolatries to illuminate creation with our active participation in the dialogue with the transcendent, and with our awareness of the world and of being in the world.

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