The video has a purely formal connection with a painting by Antonio Colantonio, Saint Jeronimus in his study (1444), showing the saint extracting a thorn from a lion’s paw. What is kept of this scene is the strange interaction between the animal’s paws and the saint’s hand, transposed in a live representation shot for the video with the help of a lion-tamer and his lion. The lack of any props in the scene is meant to highlight the interaction between the hands and the paws of the two characters.
It is the intention of this project to draw a connection between the gestures born of the interaction between the saint’s hands and the lion’s paws and the concept of profound boredom as described by Heidegger, who posited an analogy between the stupor of the animal and boredom, an emotional state which the philosopher considered essential for any philosophizing to take place. Heidegger analyses boredom to understand what the world means to human beings, distinguishing for that purpose the natural environment from the human environment. Animals live in an environment in the sense that they do not have a relationship with entities as such, but only as disinhibitors activating their specific instincts; the essence of things escapes them. Animals are befuddled and absorbed by their environment, continuously urged as they are by multiple instincts. Human beings live in a world, or rather they construct their world because, unlike animals, they do not possess specialized instincts and are not enveloped in an environment that acts as a prosthesis. However, the emotional state of boredom reveals how the relationship of human beings with the world can be closer to that of animals with the natural environment. The German philosopher claims that when this state of mind occurs, ‘being’ as such disappears, that is, it retreats in profound boredom, having nothing more to say to us, and leaves us empty. Being retreats leaving us empty, and we are suspended in time, which fails to be articulated in the past, present and future, the modalities that punctuate the rhythm of our actions. Time befuddles and imprisons us in its disarticulated essence, and while we are in this condition of inactivity it throws back at us all of our unrealized possibilities. In this sense, boredom can be considered as the best expression of the concept of potentiality, so much so that Heidegger refers to “super-power”.
Mauro Folci is professor of Performing Arts and Sculpture at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan.
Folci’s works arise from an in-depth reflection on the process of co-opting semiocapitalism and the different linguistic forms of contemporary metropolis, in particular those forms of life that trace singular escape lines from the dominant productive language.
His actions and works were hosted by Italian and international institutions including Frankfurt Kunstverein, Neue Kunstforum of Cologne, Museum of Modern Art and Contemporary Sofia Imber of Caracas, PAN of Naples, Maxxi and Macro of Rome, SUPEC of Shanghai, Center Pompidou of Paris, Reina Sofia of Madrid, Venice Biennale of Art and Architecture, CCCB Arts Santa Mònica in Barcelona.
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