William Ewing is right when he claims that I come back to Venice as an old friend. I visited the city more than thirty years ago to see one of the exhibitions, curated by Cornell Capa, and part of the festival Venezia ‘79. La Fotografia, of which Ewing himself acted as director of exhibitions. I have a self-portrait taken in front of a poster announcing the exhibition: a huge eye against which I look like a tiny thing. That trip deeply influenced the way I used to perceive both photography and architecture: it was the discovery of a new world; a world I wanted to belong to. In the cemetery of San Michele a catharsis came about: that is where I took my first picture with an authorial awareness. Somehow I was given my fascinating profession by Venice as a gift. I am glad to give her back, three decades later, my vision of the city. I think it is time to repay.
My contribution to the project Art for Venice is part of a five-year work in progress: the building of an excessive, unreal, out-of-time town called Delirious City. In order to recreate each one of their buildings I have borrowed architectural scraps taken during my trips to Paris, Moscow, Naples, New York City, Shanghai, Barcelona and Vienna. The result, often erroneously identified with a collage made out of several images, always originates in a single image that I still take with the same analogue camera I have always used. After being reworked in an endless digital mirror game, a kaleidoscopic representation of this delirious city is born. I reinterpret these chunks of reality, bestowing on them a different function to the one envisaged by the original architect for the real building. Excess, ambiguity and timelessness are crucial in my corpus.
Venice is represented in Delirious City by seven works I have made to date: two floor pieces based on Byzantine mosaics taken from Torcello, the cradle and foundation of Venice as a city, and five buildings:the National Library, the Main Square, the Theatre, an Artist’s Studio and a Cemetery. Paving, knowledge, relationships, leisure, creation and death: seven quintessentially urban elements. This is a tribute to the architects that made this city possible and whose names appear in the titles. At the same time, it is a personal review of the history of architecture. This is a global city, between modernity and classicism, between reality and fiction. And like any other real city, it will continue to grow and will have no end. I will therefore keep travelling and building Delirious City.
To view the works of Antonio Girbes please click here