say a prayer for me now
as we know him, there exists a frivolous and unpardonable need.
It's the need that
seeks reassurance from that which repeats, from the themes, subjects,
and content that customarily accompany us on our earthly existence,
providing us comfort through the recognition of a name, a logo, an
image, an idea.
Or else a F A I T H
(FEDE) that makes us faithful (fedeli).
Cozzucoli, a thinking theologian, makes a stop
at the Soligo Studio for an exhibition of his creations, of his
thought, and of our interpretation of belief itself, employing free
re-readings that indulge the methodical exegesis of a documented
god: "that being a greater than
which cannot be conceived”.
In "Christs, Saints, and Madonnas!" (an
inventory that I immediately associated with, respectively: a) the sign
at the entrance to a tourist bazaar full of gorgeous and glittery
kitsch fetish-objects designed for the true believer in the protective
knickknack; b) the title of a play presented in the open air of summer
for the few folks who haven’t left on vacation; c) the announcements of
neighborhood procession whose purpose is a multiple version of the
confused motives for prayer that essentially disregard latria and
dulia) Cozzucoli exhibits and passes on to us several of his master
works, for a compendium that is capable of clarifying the typical means
by which man usually arrives at (or deceives?) his own faith.
This is what we want
to see, that which is capable of confirming our sense of and our
recognition of God with respect to our acquired/force-fed
indoctrination. The inevitable confirmation of the "…basic dogmas of the Christian religion" (Russell),
of the "subordinate needs of man" (Hegel),
of the rigidity of the Sunday morning ecclesiastical catechesis that
guarantees to the "outside world" the recurrence of the well
established and ready-to-use imago, to whom may be confessed – upon
whom may be discharged – guilts and fears, nightmares and doubts,
crimes and sins.
In the absence of any urgent need for genuine conversation or for true
contact, the prayer plaque expels evil and sends you home, content to
have discharged your obligations and to have been absolved.
An eloquent passage
from Chuck Palahniuk’s Survivor does an excellent job of reporting on
the placement of generational totems which, planted like signets in the
church’s multiple residences or in the action centers where the cult's
headquarters are located, are intended to be beseeched: “In the oldest wing of the mausoleum...,
Jesus is gaunt and romantic with a woman’s huge wet eyes and long
eyelashes. In the wing built in the 1930s, Jesus is a Social Realist
with huge superhero muscles. In the forties ... Jesus becomes an
abstract assembly of planes and cubes. The fifties Jesus is polished
fruitwood, a Danish Modern skeleton. The sixties Jesus is pegged
together out of driftwood. There’s no seventies wing and, in the
eighties wing, there’s no Jesus, just the same secular green polished
marble and brass you’d find in a department store...”
I don't know how
much all of this has to do with the truth of the word of God, with the
first of the three theological virtues which should, via the aid of
intelligence, arrive at such a truth. Or, on the other hand, to what
degree it becomes a matter of "…cults
of wage-earners such as the one at Lourdes where it is perfectly clear,
for example, how much those well-dressed ladies paid for their rosaries
made of gold and in what little shop of objects and pious flimflam in
Paris’s Saint-Sulpice neighborhood they were wrapped” (Artaud).
But Cozzucoli is
here to demonstrate the technical reproducibility of the icon, to
transform representation into flesh, apparition into performance, and
the snapshot into an act of testimony, thanks to a nuance of the
creative act that translates veneration,
the offering of reverence and respect, into an active message that
intermixes cultural concepts and popular practice, exploiting one
symbol in order to app(reh)end others, staging ritual postures in order
to manifest their limits and to suggest their growth.
The act of
subtraction that Cozzucoli achieves disputes the imposableness of
pre-existing and obligatory configurations, commenting (barely)
sarcastically on the fanaticism and the artificial exasperation which,
aimed at (barely) religious sentiments, pass through sectarianism
on their way to intolerance.
In this sense, Cozzucoli's "Simony" (La Simonia) assumes a particularly
significant value, today, when the prospect of acquiring spiritual
goods in exchange for money may represent an updated parable regarding
the approach men take toward dogma and the magisterium, of the
many Simon Magus converts interested in the Agnus Dei for
sale of-the-month or in a Jesus Christ Superstar defender to be
kept, of course, in the car.
are objects of ingratiation, first and last suppers offered in return
for debts discharged and hearts lightened. Putting a worn-out alms
basket at the entrance to the exhibition might have worked but would
have been de trop, if one places one’s trust in the hope that une
gigantesque divinologie de l’homme may be sufficient, a reminder to
those men who, "by their nature, feel
the obligation to obey divine commands” of a brief question: "Does the human soul even now contain no
need more lofty than that for food and clothing?”
any sort of homiletics, Cozzucoli's work probes or "merely" affirms the
tendency toward observance of the criteria and norms central to
clerical methodology as if, as Nietzsche wrote, "to become the founder of a religion one
must be psychologically infallible in one’s knowledge of a certain
average type of souls who have not yet recognized that they belong
A widespread and nimble
propagation of pop commercialization, magnified by the consumer’s
tendency to insist upon an analysis of the relationship between
advertising promises and results, makes uncreated substance of the
motives for faith. To give thanks to the Christoform contrivance resolves
the business of the sacred and results in indulgences, completing the
time-honored performance that takes away the sins of the world and
hears our prayers.
"Christs, Saints, and Madonnas!"
plural common noun, perhaps actually functions as the sign at the
entrance to a tourist bazaar full of gorgeous and glittery kitsch
fetish-objects designed for the true believer in the protective
knickknack, convinced that that which repeats encloses the essence and
the meaning of what has been taught, and that ongoing attention and
learning, are not, after all, precisely necessary to “seek and to learn to recognize”, as
Calvino put it, “who and what,
in the midst of hell, is not hell, and to make that endure and to give
Cozzucoli invites us
to consult his breviary, to come face to face with his expo
prepared crosswise among
commemora-tion&entertainment. He allows us to pat our fellow
mortals down as they greet one another with a holy kiss, to watch them
when, their hands folded in prayer, they invoke their distant domestic
servant, up there.
And it's all to the
good, let's be clear, to be able to examine these mortal beings.
To manage to know
them more clearly, gauging the attitudes they learned so early and the
diligent vacuums left to refill themselves with random images.
emporium might even be a privilege. An advantage that grants, to those
last few, delicate, 21 grams of candor that we have in our bodies, the
preemption rights to the seating from which we look ourselves in the