It seems obvious to enact City on Fire in Rome. All roads lead to Rome, the cradle of European culture. They say people with culture never go wrong, and it is true that the strong beauty of the past makes us proud and aware that we are at the top of a long evolution. We need to know our past to understand the present and learn from failures of the history of mankind. Yet, some times the past feels like a heavy burden to carry. Culture and knowledge of the past can limit your expressiveness in the present, and culture and cultural production bears an element of destruction. The pupil will have to exceed the mentor and personalize tradition. But the artists Thyra Hilden & Pio Diaz do not want to destroy the classical monuments, they are artists, and as such they encourage reflection on contemporary destruction and loss of roots. They are not political terrorists or radicals.
As visual artists, their gesture is neither aggressive nor destructive, they do not demolish what cannot be replaced. Their art is a symbolic inferno, their fire an illusion to seduce and make us wonder what the loss of our cultural inheritance would be like. They are not simply playing with fire, they are also playing with your mind.
Myths of Creation do speak of destruction. You will have to tear down to build up. It seems cultures act aggressively to develop and expand. Paradigm shifts are often brutal to architectural monuments and other cultural icons. Just think of the artistic and literary treasures that were burned as Entartete Kunst by Nazis during WW2, let alone by Christians and other religious movements who feared the power of literature and culture and wanted to remove cultural products that did not fit into their ideological scheme. The images – the burning illusion – by Thyra Hilden & Pio Diaz, bring to mind all these disruptive and aggressive cultural turns.
City on Fire by Thyra Hilden & Pio Diaz celebrate the issues about the power of cultural heritage and the beauty of destruction. Their statement is a subtle intervention but proves to have a powerful impact.
Would it make life easier if you had no past, no belongings? Would we have no culture if all cultural institutions were gone? Close your eyes and watch the flames. Watch it burn to the ground. Now, how does that make you feel…?