Guardiani, Davide Pizzigoni (2008)
a performance project by
Giuseppe L. Bonifati
Every morning a guardian opens the doors to the visitors, seeing them walking or admiring art in the corridors, and then every night he says goodnight to the exhibited works. He loves the mighty bronze statues the days when he feels God, and envies them when life does not smile. He is sitting usually on a small uncomfortable chair without moving, thoughtful; in his constant observation, he becomes one of the objects himself. From subject who watches, to object watched, for then disappearing.
What if the Guardian is able to come out of this mimesis with the museum and come to be part of the live arts? What would happen if he starts to interact on a daily basis with the visitors by deciding to which works to lead them? Or to whisper in their ears about unknown secrets of the exposed artists? He might even invite the most daring people to get well dressed in front of Helmut Newtons photos or to take off all of their clothes before Monets paintings…
The Guardian can also interact following the best artistic tendencies, being one day in this, another day in another one… So on Monday it’s time to run exalted in the corridors like the Expressionists, on Tuesday he jumps through the rooms shouting like Futurists, on Wednesday he gives directions to the visitors with disordered gestures as the Cubists, on Thursday he comes to work fully covered with commercial brands as in Pop Art, or on Friday he might stay in the corners stinging roses in his arm as in Body Art, on Saturday he places himself, ecstatic, in the middle of the space as a Renaissance figure, while on Sunday, as in geometric Abstractionism, he can end the week by making precise crosswords on museums walls…
“We have to learn to sit in front of a picture without sleeping, without yawning, without eating or smoking, and above all pretending to be interested in what lies in front of us. In the working hours you can read serious things, though, not the sports journal or the porn magazines. For the occasion, I took books from the library of the town: it was then that I began to appreciate them. I like to devour thriller books.
I started sitting in front of “Electric Chair” by Warhol, then I went to the areas of Braque and Picasso. Now I’m in the abstract area. Yves Klein and Mark Rothko, that’s what I prefer. I fix the picture in front of me and after a while it is as if I am flying.
Sometimes, the guy who replaces me touches my shoulder and makes me jump. I do not sleep, I am flying in the blue. “Levitation” is what Yves Klein said! On the day closed for the public, they changed the plexiglass. I spent the day watching the Klein in the museum without visitors. I was attracted by the Blue, I wanted to see the dust close up, try to figure out why it was so beautiful, so intriguing. I did not touch, I just got closer and I had a grain on my finger. It made me think about the roof of a chapel, in Rome. I think, it was Michelangelo’s work: a guy touching God with his finger…
Believe me, everyday as Guardian of the Museum, i feel the same: I touch God…”
(from “Imaginary journal of a museum guardian – august 2017)
After having lived for 535 days in the long performance project MAYOR IN RESIDENCE, as an artistic and political protagonist of a Danish town’s public life and raising the project on a regional and then national level, I feel now the need to devote myself to something more intimate and personal. Without losing the contact with Art. For this reason, I thought to realise “The Guardian” in important international museums.
I think about the Guardian as something therapeutic for both: the Artist and the Viewer. For the first, it is a break from being recognised and to avoid the public attention; for the second, it is a possibility to recognise himself in a closer artistic figure.
How to become a Guardian? I did not do any school for that: so I certainly do not have to hurry. I have to listen, to move on tiptoes or to wait in the shade of the canvases like a chameleon. Chameleon’s color change is mainly due to an emotional state. When the chameleon is relaxed, the result is the green as we all know them. If the chameleon is in a state of excitement, for a clash or a pair, it changes into yellow-orange.
So how to find a balanced equilibrium in the nature of a museum? What colours and temperatures will have a guardian´s body and mind in a state of quiet, and how to emerge from the harmony of this artistic nature by interfering with the visitors? Keeping this animalistic instinct, changing from one color to another, raising and lowering the temperature, keeps the Guardian´s attention alive and gives also depth to the performance itself. If I look back over the years, i didn’t invent nothing new. I refer to Plato´s mimesis: do I want to faithfully play a guardian or create an illusion? (as in painting using perspective to fool the viewer).
In both cases, I will try to finish my book in the shadow…