Tania Bruguera: From the open work to the infinite work. Apropos the project: Giordano Bruno for Saint. Santo Protettore della Memoria Politica? Power doesn't respond
From: Lux, Simonetta “Tania Bruguera: From the open work to the infinite work. Apropos the project: Giordano Bruno for Saint. Santo Protettore della Memoria Politica? Power doesn't respond,” Tania Bruguera, On the occasion of the solo show “Giordano Bruno for Saint,” MLAC - Museo Laboratorio Di Arte Contemporanea, Roma, Italy. Ed. Postmedia Srl. Fiesola, Italy, November 2010, (cover & illust.) pp. 48 - 65.
Tania Bruguera: from the open work to the infinite work. Apropos the project: Giordano Bruno for Saint Santo protettore della Memoria Politica? Power doesn’t respond
by Simonetta Lux
Giordano Bruno for Saint? Patron Saint of Political Memory? Why not the symbol of Resistance to Censorship?
It is not really such a current topic – I told myself – given that a few years ago the Church of Woytila apologized to the world . Apologizing not only for the ridiculous repression, since the time of the Renaissance warrior and banker Popes, of the merits of artworks, each modern in its own time, but it also apologized to the world for the execution and burning of Giordano Bruno for heresy on the 17th February 1600.
Certainly a half resipiscence, bearing in mind that the justification for this is that – in the present and considering the current state of science – the condemnation had become meaningless.
But the fact remains.
Tania Bruguera, a sharp and independent artist, has placed the criticism of Authoritarianism and Absolute Power, wherever it is found, at the centre of her work.
And there is much to be found in this World.
Even picking at random.
For example today, 24th September – when I am finally re-writing my text for Bruguera – the headline of the “Corriere della Sera” read: Show di Geddafi dalla tribuna - L’ ONU un consiglio del terrore [Geddafi show in court – The UN a council of terror]. Signed by ‘one of our correspondents’, who reminds us that, Muammar Gheddafi, who seized power in Libia with a coup d’état at twenty-seven years of age, in New York, can tease both the UN Charter of Rights and the rights of the General Assembly, an Assembly made up of “Heads of Democratic States, and Dictators”, by now everybody knows.
Ghedaffi, therefore, a liberticide, but also a saviour of the homeland and defender of the memory of colonial subjection, can declare in front of the once noble Assembly: “Obama is a son of Africa, a glimmer in the dark: We would be content if Mr Obama were president for ever”.
He can hope for dictatorship, an anti-democracy, in a democracy as powerful as the US: the lifelong presidency wished for Obama, without repercussions! Perhaps a fearful giggle; a peculiarity!
Why does this not surprise us, and why, instead, do we see it as a peculiarity (this is what the journalist calls it, well done Massimo Caprara, and perhaps the headline writer as well)?
In truth, Barack Obama and his secretary of state Hillary Clinton had left the hall so as to not cross his path. Not so much as dictator and a trampler of basic human rights (see the fate of those imprisoned in Libia), as for the fact that he had, as we know, reserved a warm welcome for the Lockerbie bomber in Tripoli (who had recently been released by Great Britain).
This is to show the complexity of the ambiguous and metaphorical, realistic and sublimated communication game that exists in the world. Hence, in a by now eternal or continuous present, not only are geography, the history of all the ages and different cultures simultaneous, but the existence or non-existence of the principles of responsibility and liberty of “communication and information” are also simultaneous and fundamentally indifferent.
Here in Italy, it is our famous 21st article of the Constitution; they were shrewd men our founders, well aware of the physical destruction brought about by the fascist (dictatorial) halt on communications. And they certainly could not have imagined the process of the inner destruction in the formation of young minds, in a process fused with the mixing of mass communications and the fictitious action of human simulacra, just like today in Italy.
The widespread practice of censorship, torture and the absence of freedom of information throughout almost the entire present-day world seemed to me, in respect to the one chosen by Tania Bruguera, a more cogent theme. Especially as in Italy everyone knows everything in regards to Giordano Bruno. Everyone loves him, as he is a symbol of the new united Italy that dissolved the Church State, an Italy at first a monarchy that then became a republic. We believe that we know everything, but in reality we remember a few fragments of a truth that has anyhow firmly imposed itself within us.
The monument to Giordano Bruno, in Piazza Campo de’ Fiori in the centre of Rome, in front of which Domenico Scudero brought Tania Bruguera, was in fact made by a republican and Masonic artist, Ettore Ferrari, in 1888; a time when the Freemasonry was the place of the constitution of libertarian alliances against other Absolutisms (Church, Monarchy, etc.).
Memory is certainly an important question, more so than the declared fight against past and existing authoritarianisms: Giordano Bruno, in fact, was already aware of this. Fearing the eradication and loss of his ideas, which would have followed his repentance, he preferred to retract his renouncement and die, burnt, with a gag in his mouth, so he could not yell his truth, even from between the flames of the stake, in non other than Piazza Campo de’ Fiori.
Fear of a future loss of memory: he who – according to some historians of philosophy – had wished to be on the scene of the greatest powers of his age (the Church, Venice, France, England and the most important Universities of Europe).
And memory is a question pertaining to the present-day world, if the proceedings of Bruno’s trial were, literally, sent to the pulper at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century; the Holy Office, like all authoritarian and repressive centres of power, conserved everything with care up until the present-day (the last two centuries).
Whilst truth, from the end of the Eighteenth-Century, has been seen as ambiguous, the relative concept of knowledge from Diderot onwards has instead rendered the practice of archivists and dictators hysterical. So although the proceedings of Bruno’s trial and death sentence were conserved intact for centuries, in the Vatican archives there now remains only – as we will see – a thematic index of Giordano Bruno’s final judgement in Rome.
Tania Bruguera, therefore, touches upon the question of memory; Giordano Bruno was silenced and burnt at the stake, with a gag in his mouth (a kind of metal hairpin that was inserted into his throat to block his tongue) to stop him from recounting his ideas.
This is the first surprising thing.
Moreover, Tania, a few years ago, at the IX Havana Biennial in 2006, working as she almost always does at the Centre of the Margins of the Field, presented emergent artists from her School at the ISA: students of her Cátedra Arte de Conducta.
Jeanette Chaves was one of the students being presented at her studio house. This opening of her studio house demonstrates Tania’s first principle of responsibility and, at the same time, a shared opening to others (for example the work El Peso de la Culpa that took place a few years before). She presented herself with the video Autocensura (2006, 2:52 min), in which Jeanette Chavez, in clear pain, ties her tongue tightly and closes her lips, so that this self-inflicted silence becomes “invisible”: she “swallows” it.
But more that the particular torture of the restricted tongue, Tania wants to measure the “popular fortune” of Giordano Bruno, in spite of the eradication of his documented memory.
In fact, the artwork-installation-performance, which she realized in Rome at the MLAC and the IILA as the “start” of the project Giordano Bruno for Saint, is not as important as the mechanism that puts it into motion. The “form”, whether this be “installation”, “exhibited body”, video, painting or sculpture, is not in reality the art, but a node of energy made of the artist’s thought and responsibility, interlaced with important questions of the present-day world; a process of relating, constructed on a base, or foundations, of sharing.
For some time it has been apparent that Tania Bruguera has been gradually undermining the very concept of performance, in the artists entrusting of part of the action to the spectator.
It is what elsewhere I have called an essential passage of art, from the open work (as proposed by Umberto Eco) to the infinite work (in Arte Ipercontemporanea. Un certo loro sguardo, Rome, 2007).
But how does she do it? She does it by installing a feeling, a perception, a tension between the physical and mental senses of whoever approaches, pulling us irresistibly forward, whilst we also, by necessity, look backwards.
Tania Bruguera, in the past, has done it through: My body; the body of the Other; Our body. Body and Power: “Power has its own means of expression. Mass media is one of its most attractive channels for adding, projecting or imposing ideology. The individual, recipient of the effects of the mechanisms set off by power (be it political, governmental, sexual, ideological, or economic, among many others), enters into an interrelationship in which, in the end, she can only count on her body as the most sincere means of expression or resistance. My body is my instrument. It is the place where I can give voice to my opinion. It is the space where I have certain power, even if it's only the power of locating my thoughts and emotions” declared Tania Bruguera on The Burden of Guilt II, 1999, (published on www.UniversesinUniverse.de).
From the beginning, “my body”: In 1992, reliving the body/thought of another person within her own, as in the Homenaje a Ana Mendieta, the young minimalist artist of Cuban origin thrown from a window of a New York skyscraper (Centro de Desarrollo de Artes Visuales in Havana)
In 1995, with Lo que me corresponde, which took place in the studio house of the artist.
In 1996, with Cabeza abajo (Head down), in the Espacio Aglutinador in Havana, and with Lágrimas de tránsito, in the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam, also in Havana, curated by Llillian Llanes (the founder of the Habana Bienal in 1984).
In 1997, subsequently, with El Peso de la Culpa (The weight of Guilt). A, justly, well-known performance, which took place on the 4th May, once again in her studio house in an old popular neighbourhood in the centre of Havana. A performance, an action that recalled one of the founding events of the Cuban Nation.
Tania sat at the base of an enormous Cuban flag that she herself, along with other women of the neighbourhood, had weaved from her and their own hairs. She had a slaughtered lamb, still bleeding, on her shoulders. For around 45 minutes, as she has recalled herself, she mixed Cuban soil with water and ate it. Her intent was that of recalling the ritual suicide of the island’s natives, who killed themselves by eating enormous quantities of their own land that had by then been lost to the Spanish conquerors.
Staging, in the end, preoccupations of the most burning topicality: the relationship between artist and power, which, in the case of Cuba, means Fidel Castro.
In Havana for the Biennial of 2000, where I was reacquainted with Roberto Pinto and met Tania Bruguera, I was present at the artist’s resistance to censorship. The artwork was in reality called Ingeniero de almas. It was written on a nameplate on the day of the vernissage (pulled-off by the artist herself in the late afternoon), displayed just before the entrance to her show in that underground ex-prison, situated in the Cabana (the ex-military fortress now home to the show and museums). The allusion to the hyper-determination employed by Fidel on his own countrymen was clear as soon as one penetrated the dark of the eighty-meter long tunnel. Scattered with earth, decomposing sugarcane leaves, the smell of which could make you pass out, reached us whilst in a line formed by its tight entrance. Once we had entered, we walked in the dark and found ourselves at a crossroads, illuminated from above by a downward facing TV monitor, suspended from the vaults. Inside was the image of Castro – there’s the engineer of our souls – that opened and closed in a loop gesturing towards his white shirt, pointing his heart out to us. Everything around was in semidarkness, naked bodies, old and young men who were trying to clean their bodies, to rub something off. Being human and power, a materialization of morality, but also a sense of guilt (washing oneself), submission and sacrifice.
The sensation, for me as well, was total and unforgettable, passed in that slow paced line. The smell, the dark, the TV, and the incredible confirmation of our absurdly quick ability to adapt, even to the most evident horror, like that smell that on first impact seemed intolerable.
But in the case of Giordano Bruno for Saint, who acts?
On one hand, the request for canonization is to the Church, who will never respond; on the other there is the preparation of the documents for (an eventual) canonization, the purpose of which is only to activate, within us others, a critical and mnemonic work, which we mistakenly thought to command.
The quick synthesis is typical of the characteristic communication of contemporary art, and of Tania in particular: she build up the discourse showing some flashes, careful of the marks and traces of truth that fall in front of us, the ones shared outside of libraries and academies.
I thought of clicking on Google: and what did I find? (Perhaps Bruguera had searched as well?)
A path to Joyce: reliable given the international culture of Tania, and who in general has studied at the ISA (Instituto Superior de Arte) of Havana.
I read: "Giordano Bruno: The Forgotten Philosopher" by John J. Kessler. Joyce gives the ghost guises like Saint Bruno and The Nolan of the Cabashes and Noland's brown” (en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Giordano_Bruno).
It’s a cul de sac.
In the useful confusion of Wikiquote and Wikipedia, as well as being guided by one of my old issues of the journal “Carte Segrete” (n.10, 1969, which at p.93 recites the summary of the trial of Giordano Bruno and gives some extracts) I find, albeit with some difficulty, the path to Joyce, from Joyce to Bruno and from Joyce/Bruno to Tania Bruguera. But it is necessary to pass through the late rediscovery of the summary of the trial, the Sommario del processo (1940), and it’s publication (1942).
Why did the Vatican publish it?
It is mid war, Fascism had not yet fallen. It is necessary to go and find out who Angelo Mercati was, the man who found, in 1940, The summary of the trial against Giordano Bruno from 1597.
The online entry on the A.S.V website (http://asv.vatican.va/en/doc/1597.htm) states: “Paper volume, 320x240mm, ff. 429 (ancient, partly wrong numbering and not inclusive of many white folios), bound in parchment; on the back: VARIA. Censurae. ASV, Misc., Arm. X, 205, ff. 230v 231r”
And it states that Angelo Mercati is the Prefect of the Vatican Archives and that it was published, with a long introduction, in 1942, as part of the series Studies and Texts.
“In one of the volumes of the fond “Miscellanea Armadi” (Arm. X, 205), maybe made up of the collection of different documents by the famous canonist Francisco Peña, Auditor and then Dean of the Rota (he died in 1612), there is a precious document, searched for a long time, then kept secret for a long time and finally found on the 15th November 1940 in the Pius IX fond after 15 years of unsuccessful investigation by the Prefect of the Vatican Archives, Angelo Mercati: the summary of the trial against Giordano Bruno. Thanks to Angelo Mercati, the summary was published, with a long and sound introduction issued in 1942.
Since the volume or the volumes of the Roman trial against Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), once kept in the archives of the Holy Office, were irremediably lost, this document, which derives from the originals (on the margins of the document you often find citations of the pages of the lost trial), is the most precious testimonies we have to understand the long and troublesome inquisitorial event the famous Dominican friar underwent. Some abstracts of Giordano Bruno’s works, his interrogations, some of the records of the Venetian trial in 1592 against the famous preacher and some other documents copied from the original trial converged in the summary, which was probably used by the Assessor of the Holy Office of that period.
The humane vicissitudes of Giordano Bruno ended with the Roman trial (1593-1600) and with the sentence of proven heresy, which, due to his resolute and extreme statement of not being guilty, changed into capital punishment, executed at Campo de’ Fiori on the 17th February 1600. In one of the last interrogations before the execution of the sentence (maybe in April 1599), the Dominican friar was questioned by the judges of the Holy Office on his cosmogony conception, supported above all in the “La cena delle Ceneri”(Ash-Wednesday Dinner) and in the “De l’infinito universo et mundi”. Even then, he defended his theories as scientifically founded and by no means against the Holy Scriptures (left side, from the first line: Circa motum terrae, f. 287, sic dicit: Prima generalmente dico ch’il mo<t>o et la cosa del moto della terra e della immobilità del firmamento o cielo sono da me prodotte con le sue raggioni et autorità le quali sono certe, e non pregiudicano all’autorità della divina scrittura [...]. Quanto al sole dico che niente manco nasce e tramonta, né lo vedemo nascere e tramontare, perché la terra se gira circa il proprio centro, che s’intenda nascere e tramontare [... ]). (Circa motum terrae, f. 287, sic dicit: Firstly, I say that the theories on the movement of the earth and on the immobility of the firmament or sky are by me produced on a reasoned and sure basis, which doesn’t undermine the authority of the Holy Sciptures […]. With regard to the sun, I say that it doesn’t rise or set, nor do we see it rise or set, because, if the earth rotates on his axis, what do we mean by rising and setting[…]).
In the same rooms where Giordano Bruno was questioned, for the same important reasons of the relationship between science and faith, at the dawning of the new astronomy and at the decline of Aristotle’s philosophy, sixteen years later, Cardinal Bellarmino, who then contested Bruno’s heretical theses, summoned Galileo Galilei, who also faced a famous inquisitorial trial, which, luckily for him, ended with a simple abjuration.”
This is the entry, it does not tell us how the proceeding of the Roman trial and Giordano Bruno’s death sentence were destroyed; one of the files of the Vatican Archive transported to Paris by Napoleon in 1810, and destroyed between 1815 and 1817 during of the Archive’s return to Rome.
The journal “Carte segrete” (cited above) recalls on page 94 that “Marino Marini, incaricato da Pio VII e dal Cardinale Consalvi di ricondurre a Roma quei tesori, non dubitò di considerare inutili quei processi del Sant’Uffizio e non esitò, con la del cardinale a distruggere in minutissimi pezzi,immersi poi a macerarli in acqua, nella vendita che ne fece a una fabbrica parigina di cartoni, realizzando 4.300 franchi, una somma che fa comprendere essersi trattato d’un numero veramente grande di volumi”. (Mario Marini, charged by Pio VII and the Cardinal Consalvi with bringing those treasures back to Rome, did not doubt in considering the trials of the Holy Office useless, and did not hesitate, along with the cardinal, to break them into tiny pieces, immersing them afterwards in water to macerate them, in a sale made to a Parisian cardboard factory, receiving 4.300 francs, a sum that shows that this was a very large number of volumes).
With the destruction of the actual proceedings of the trial held in Rome, the memory of Giordano Bruno, his philosophy of liberty and his cosmological theory, is, in truth, reborn.
I do not wish to recall here the few but interesting European contributions to his knowledge, but a small number are worthy of mention. Jacobi, who, close to Illuminism, in 1785 translated into German, for the first time, a part of De la causa, principo et uno; by “this obscure writer” who was able to give a “clear and beautiful description of pantheism”. Subsequently, in 1802, Schelling drew upon Jacobi for his dialogue on Bruno, and later, Hegel, who came to know Bruno only indirectly.
What interests me instead is that, in the sphere of the Nineteenth Century Italian Risorgimento, founded on principles and the cult of liberty, equality and fraternity, between the first actions of the libertarian and democratic fight in a not yet unified Italy, they searched for that which had for centuries represented these values. And it is not by chance that one of the acts of the brief and bloodily repressed Roman Republic of 1849 (that lasted from the 9th of February to the 4th of July) was the search for the papers regarding the death sentence of Giordano Bruno.
Giordano Bruno is the symbol of the repression of the principles of freedom of thought and communication, systematically in operation, until then, in all the absolute and authoritarian regimes, called into question only recently by the French Revolution of 1789.
1849 was the year of the most widespread – on a European level – revolution of the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. Which were being proclaimed within a situation in Italy – as we know – of many fragmented States, governed by various foreign powers, including the Papacy (see the Constitution of the Roman Repubblic of 1849 that was announced from the Capitoline on the 3rd July, whilst the French troops of Oudinot at the service of the Papacy were entering Rome and the day before the fall of the Roman Republic).
In fact, in 1849, when Giacomo Manzoni, finance minister for the Roman Republic, entered into the Vatican Secret Archives and the ones of the Holy Office, he searched for and found information on Giordano Bruno. But he didn’t find the Acts of the Roman trial.
Nevertheless, much information on Giordano Bruno’s biography and philosophy was propagated up until the Unification of Italy on the 17th of March 1861.
In spite of the fierce repression by the pontifical troops in 1859 (who joined the Kingdom of Italy in November 1860, following the outcome of plebiscites in Umbria and the Marche), this information was published after the proclamation of the Unification of Italy on the 17th March 1861. It was published in 1868 by Domenico Berti (publisher Paravia, Florence, Turin and Milan) in Vita di Giordano Bruno da Nola (The life of Giordano Bruno of Nola).
He ended, in 1868, the “silence of information” that had come down upon Giordano Bruno after his death, for over 250 years; friends, ambassadors, guests and colleagues, the freeze fell on the uncomfortable personality. Apart from Gaspare Schopp, a Knight of St. Peter and the Count of the Sacred Palace of Clement VII (Schopp was a lover of culture who had renounced Protestantism at a young age), all kept quiet; Bruno’s contemporaries that had known him personally, his publishers, the people to whom he dedicated works and writings. His name was removed from the records of the Order of Dominicans and from the records of the professors of all the European universities at which he had taught: Toulouse, Paris, Germany, Marberg, etc.
Gaspare Schopp (nicknamed the Scioppo), who managed to liberate Tommaso Campanella from jail, was present in the square of Campo de’ Fiori on the 17th February 1600, “at the gloomy and frightful burning of Bruno”, as wrote Domenico Berta. That same evening he wrote a letter to the Rector of the University of Altorf, informing him of the various thoughts of Bruno from 1582 onwards, the various flights and migrations around Europe and the places of publication. Schopp had witnessed the reading of the sentence on the 9th February 1600.
And it is thanks to Gaspare Schopp that we know the reply with which Bruno addressed the judges of the Holy Office: “A greater fear is felt by you pronouncing the sentence against me then by me receiving it”.
Bruno, handed over to the “secular arm”, who had initially signalled his intention to recant, before changing his mind, died without fear.
However, according to Berti, Schopp, who was present in the Inquisition room as well, placed too much trust in his memory. And, in addition, there are gaps in the work by the only historian, the Frenchman Bartholmèss (Jordano Bruno, Paris, 1846), who could not find other testimonies of the burning of the Nolan.
There is no trace of the “savage fact”, states the patriot Berti, in the letters that his important friends exchanged in the hours and days that followed the event.
But how, asks Berti, is it possible that a burning that took place at the height of the afternoon, with a large presence of the population, was not mentioned in the chronicles? Was the terroristic power of the Inquisition “such to leave speechless the thousands and thousands of Catholics gathered in that years in Rome” for the Jubilee of 1600?
Berti, in 1868, asks himself (as will happen later with Holocaust deniers, who, like the persecutors, try to hide the documentation) if the Schopp’s letter was not exaggerated in regards to the Inquisition’s “incendiary sentence”, and searches for new documents. In reality he had already found them, and – in the book – recalls their finding like a mystery novel.
A learned friend of his within the Vatican Archive (that Berti obviously could not access) tells him that there are more papers than that file, but that they had been crossed out and blacked in numerous places.
Berti, remembering that Giordano Bruno in Prague in 1588 had dedicated his fifty geometry theories to “the unique emperor that was Rodolfo II” (who had paid him handsomely), remembered also that Kepler had arrived there fifteen years later. Is it possible – Berti asks himself – that nothing remains from Kepler, “the most renowned mathematician and astronomer of modern times, Kepler from whom derives the name for the great law that measures the orbits travelled by celestial bodies? Kepler resembled Bruno in many things and particularly in the strength of imagination, in poetic intuition and the independence of the spirit. As poor as the Nolan, and very troubled like him, he was able nonetheless to fight courageously against any obstacle and raise himself above everything and everybody. Thus, not only did he suitably esteem the genius, but he professed also to adhering to certain of his thoughts”.
Domenico Berti searches for traces of his ideas and finds them indirectly, like a bloodhound of historical memory, which, it must be said, is the keystone on which the modern, democratic and Unified Italy is constructed.
Berti in fact recalls that Martino Hasley wrote in a letter to Galileo Galilei that Kepler complained that he had not mentioned the Nolan in his Nunzio Sidereo.
Kepler therefore, reproaching intellectual opportunists, had not forgotten him. Moreover, Domenico Berti tells us that Kepler also spoke of the life and horrendous death of Giordano Bruno, and that in examining the entire correspondence (Joannis Kepleri astronomi, Opera omnia, edidit Frisch, vol. II, pg. 592) he found proof of Bruno’s burning at the stake.
His friend Dr. Brengger asked him for details on the ideas and death of Giordano Bruno on the 7th March 1608: “You write of Giordano Bruno roasted (prunis tostus) – Bregger writes to Kepler – with which I intend that he was burnt; I ask you if this is certain, and when and for what reason did this happen to him: let me know, I feel compassion for him”.
Kepler, from Prague, responds: “I heard from Wacherio that Bruno was burnt in Rome and that he suffered the torture steadfastly, asserting that all religions are vain and that God identifies himself with the world, the circle and the point”.
Brengger was amazed by the madness of Giordano, and citing his letter (“could he not have impunitively simulated something, to save his life in this way?”) Domenico Berti recalls that Bruno stated that Death is to be put before a lie, even though the masses can declare this is madness: “Vulgus te coecum dixerit: ergo Luce oculisque carens, sine menteque dixerit Amens” (De Monade, pag. 1).
Berti, putting forward this evidence, giving it life, in recalling and novelizing the ever so scarce “memory” (just two bits of evidence) of the act of violence carried out on Giordano Bruno, shows us the lies and hiding of the truth, as well as the pathetic frightened death of scientific memory.
But then Berti searches for dates and other documents. For instance, in the Frari archive in Venice, where the first part of the trial was held and where the denouncement by the Count Giovanni Mocenigo took place (for the reason that Bruno was unable, or wished not, to teach him the secrets of memory). There he finds the papers of Mocenigo’s accusation, as well as the interrogations of four witnesses against Bruno, and with them the memory of Bruno, his life, travels and works. He also found the correspondence between Venice and the Roman Inquisition from 1592 and 1593 (between the Venetian ambassador to the Pontiff and the Holy Office). Not present (he lists what there should have been) are the papers concerning the Roman trial and death sentence, of which, however, at that point, there was “proof”.
On Giordano Bruno’s self-defence during the Venetian phase of the interrogations, in which he was lucid and articulated in front of the questions posed to him with neither verbal nor conceptual “violence”, Berti notes: “He is not interrupted, and he argues with much calm, that more than defending himself, he seems to be concerned with making his doctrines know, for this reason quoting his own books."
It is through this torturous research that Tania Bruguera, who had picked Giordano Bruno with quick intuition, brings us to a gaming table, for art; forcing us to look within ourselves and within ideas of memory, information, political fabrication, at the principle of truth and loyalty to ourselves and our own ideas.
After having met the libertarian philosophers, politicians and artists of the Risorgimento, including the sculptor Ettore Ferrari, who at the end of the Nineteenth Century was commissioned to make the monument to Giordano Bruno in Piazza Campo de’ Fiori. It is inevitable to search on that renowned web for Joyce and Giordano Bruno, the Nolan, which I mentioned and noted at the beginning because it appeared not to lead to anything, if not to where the web (and our cultural memory) takes us: <Joyce_Giordano Bruno>?
It opens another world, that of the Twentieth Century, in which one of the greatest and most revolutionary authors, James Joyce, already in his first works, inextricably captured the teachings of Giordano Bruno between individual subject and philosopher. In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce, in the manner of Giordano Bruno, enunciates his poetic as artist and free man: “I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it call itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use — silence, exile and cunning”.
There have been many (even if not that many) studies on Joyce and Bruno from 1903 to the present.
Some of the most important names being John J. Kessler, James Knowlson, Samuel Beckett, Thornton Wilder, Randy Hofbauer, Bill Kuhns, Marshall McLuhan. There are many places and traces of Bruno in Joyce.
The re-enacting, the particular way in which Tania Bruguera realizes her political actions with art, today enters into our minds. We are forced to relive old and new ways of clashing with authoritarianism.
The infinite metamorphic process is activated, with which the divine liberty of thought is expressed. Which – according to Giordano Bruno – obliges us to act again within our skin As though we were in the skin of they who anticipated our current thinking, be they liberal intellectual patriots of the Italian Risorgimento, be they English or American writers or literary critics, be they the same James Joyce or Samuel Beckett.
See the reading of the Constituzione della Repubblica Romana, which will later be the base of the successive constitutions of the Unified Italy, until our current constitution of 1948, when the Repubblica Italiana was born. Affirming the principles that Italian poets and intellectuals fought for for centuries. In 1948 the right to vote was given to all citizens for the first time.