Half a Millenium Remix Culture | blog

As a juror of the DOCMA award, you sometimes encounter images that lead you away, but not at the top, but you want more attention. So I went with an image that apparently combined a seemingly unmotivated Dali sculpture with Elbphilharmonie.

Achim Korherr: "Dali vs. Elphi", inspired by "Space Elephant" by Salvador Dali

After taking a look at the photo of Achim Korherr, I was initially defenseless. A Dali elephant in front of Elbphilharmonie – a remix, no question, but … WTF? At second glance only, I realized that this picture summed up well half a millennium of remix culture and dealt with the story of an equally ancient question of architecture and static: can to place one heavy object on another (and if so, how) without this construction collapsing?

This story goes back to the year 1499, during which Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (About: Poliphilos are fighting for love in a dream) by Francesco Colonna, printed by Aldus Manutius in Venice. The author, presumably a Dominican monk, told in a strange mix of Italian and Latin the adventures of his hero Poliphilo, who is consumed in love with a woman named Polia. After hours of groaning and hesitation about his fate, Poliphilo falls asleep in his room to find himself in a world dreamlike aradien populated by dragons, nymphs and gods. Poliphilo goes there in search of her missing loved one, Polia, but her love for her is so much more than her love for her: Poliphile can indeed the lover of the polia medium but also who loves a lotWhenever he meets buildings and monuments in his dream, he describes them page by page in every detail.

Poliphili hypnerotomachia: a stone elephant wearing an obelisk on the back (unknown artist)

The fantastic buildings that Poliphilo meets in his search for Polia recall the architecture of Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquity, but are sometimes enlarged to the gigantic. One of the first that he encounters is a stone elephant carrying an Egyptian obelisk on his back. Between the legs of the elephant is a pedestal of the same section as that of the obelisk because, as Poliphilo claims, there should never be any empty air under a load . One of the many illustrations in the book illustrates this construction.

Due to the long tedious architectural descriptions, the love story unfolds in Hypnerotomachia Poliphili At first, he did not progress well, but finally met Poliphilo after many adventures with his lover, who is now a nymph. They are married by the goddess Venus herself, but when he is finally alone with Polia on the wedding night, she disappears and Poliphilo wakes up. It seems that the real Polia is dead – the real reason he could only meet her in a dream.

Although the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili Because of their language and their prolixity, it is a rather voluminous work (I read it in an English translation a few years ago and it is now available in a German version) which, since the 16th century, has become a source of inspiration for many architects and artists Garden designers. the Parco dei Mostri For example, in Bomarzo, it would be without the suggestions of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili hard to imagine.

In 1665, more than a century and a half later, Pope Alexander VII Chigi came into possession of an Egyptian obelisk. Pharaoh Psammetich II built it at Sais until it was stolen by the Romans and placed in the temple of Isis. It was found later, but was found in 1665 in the garden of the Dominican monastery of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. The pope decided to install it in front of the monastery church and commissioned Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) and his studio to carry out this project.

With the Fountain of Four in Piazza Navona, Bernini had proved that a heavy obelisk could very well be found above the empty air.

Bernini wanted to place the obelisk on the back of an elephant sculpture inspired by Hypnerotomachia Poliphilibut on a much smaller scale: the building designed by Colonna was hollow and accessible by stairs, while the existing obelisk – the smallest of the obelisks of Rome – suited only a relatively small elephant.

As an experienced sculptor and architect, Bernini knew very well that an obelisk could stand on an empty air and that the elephant was able to divert that charge into the ground only through its four legs. A few years earlier, he had already realized such a construction: the Fountain of Four in Piazza Navona carries an obelisk even bigger and heavier, but on the crossed arches formed by the allegorical representations of the Danube, the Nile, the Ganges and the Rio de la Plata It floats above the empty air and well water.

However, Domenico Paglia, the pope's adviser, doubted this statistic and pleaded, like Colonna, for a gigantic pedestal under the elephant. Ercole Ferrata, who designed Bernini's model in 1667, was forced to extend the harness to the ground in order to conceal the aesthetically unsatisfactory and structurally unnecessary base.

Elephant and obelisk in front of Santa Maria sopra Minerva church in Rome; in the background, the back of the Pantheon.

Built on a lively square in Rome, this monumental and absurd idea of ​​allowing an elephant to wear an obelisk previously reserved for the few readers of an obscure book of 1499 has become a common cultural phenomenon.

It is not surprising that a surrealist like Salvador Dali, again a few centuries later, took up this idea. In 1944, the elephant wearing an obelisk appears for the first time in one of his paintings: Dream caused by the theft of a bee around a grenade, a second before waking up, Then he came back several times on this motif in his painting and also has several bronze sculptures of Elephants from the space created in different sizes, up to the seven-meter-tall version in the Hamburg music theaters, opposite the Elbphilharmonie.

Dali gave his elephant slender, elongated legs as if he wanted to ridicule his static preoccupations. Of course, his sculptures also have no stabilizing basis, so the saddle cover in relation to the work of Ferrata could return to normal. The obelisk does not even rest completely on the saddle; Instead, it is based on four bullets, so there are only four points of contact on which the weight weighs.

And it's there that Elbphilharmonie comes in. The architectural concept of the Elphi was based on the huge brick building of the 1960s Kaispeicher A intended for the establishment of a room of concert. After the introduction of the idea in December 2001, doubts quickly arose as to the capacity of the Kaispeicher, although built for heavy loads, to support the combined weight of two concert halls, rehearsal rooms, restaurants, hotels and apartments. The Kaispeicher has finally been emptied and a new, load-bearing interior construction has been created, ending atop the so-called Plaza. Just like Dali's obelisk on the elephant, Elbphilharmonie does not rest completely on the pedestal; Instead, an accessible area opens between the two parts of the building, from which one arrives at the concert halls. Similar to the Dali balls, the concert hall rests on columns that often extend diagonally between the floor and the ceiling of the square, highlighting the apparent lightness of the building.

Elbphilharmonie: Between the Konzerthaus and the old Kaispeicher A is the Plaza.

The Great Elphi Hall, in turn, is not firmly connected to support structures; its inner hull floats on 362 spring bags that uncouple it from the outside world. After his installation, a new dispute over the static state shook in 2011: the contractor Hochtief refused to lower the roof construction already completed on the building because they doubted his ability to charge. There was a protracted dispute between the city's static experts and the contractor, during which construction continued for a year and ended. In the end, however, we accepted and the roof was lowered without problems.

Place heavy objects on a support structure without collapsing the building – this motif is based on Francesco Colonna's 1499 vision of the Bernini and Ferrata sculpture of 1667 and on the various elephants of the twentieth century space. El Salvador Dali, inaugurated in 2016., It is more than 500 years of a remix of the artistic symbolization of a static problem, to which the portrait of Achim Korherr refers.

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