Weekend links 203


A Dune-inspired piece by Joshua Budich for In Dreams: an art show tribute to David Lynch at Spoke Art.

• “[Montague] Summers was a friend of Aleister Crowley and, like [Jacques d’Adelswärd] Fersen, conducted homoerotic black masses; whatever eldritch divinity received their entreaties was evidently propitiated by nude youths.” Strange Flowers goes in search of the Reverend Summers.

• More Jarmania: Veronica Horwell on the theatrical life of Derek Jarman, Paul Gallagher on When Derek Jarman met William Burroughs, and Scott Treleaven on Derek Jarman’s Advice to a Young Queer Artist.

Robert Henke of Monolake talks to Secret Thirteen about his electronic music. More electronica: analogue-synth group Node have recorded a new album, their first since their debut in 1995.

This hypertrophied response to decay and dilapidation is what drives the “ruin gaze”, a kind of steroidal sublime that enables us to enlarge the past because we cannot enlarge the present. When ruin-meister Giovanni Piranesi introduced human figures into his “Views of Rome”, they were always disproportionately small in relation to his colossal (and colossally inaccurate) wrecks of empire. It’s not that Piranesi, an architect, couldn’t do the maths: he wasn’t trying to document the remains so much as translate them into a grand melancholic view. As Marguerite Yourcenar put it, Piranesi was not only the interpreter but “virtually the inventor of Rome’s tragic beauty”. His “sublime dreams”, Horace Walpole said, had conjured “visions of Rome beyond what it boasted even in the meridian of its splendour”.

Frances Stonor Saunders on How ruins reveal our deepest fears and desires.

Gustave Doré. L’imaginaire au pouvoir: Four short films from the Musée d’Orsay to accompany their current exhibition, Gustave Doré (1832–1883): Master of Imagination.

• At Dangerous Minds: Remembering Cathy Berberian, the hippest—and funniest—lady of avant-garde classical music.

• “Merely a Man of Letters”: Jorge Luis Borges interviewed in 1977 by Denis Dutton & Michael Palencia-Roth.

Luke Epplin on Big as Life (1966), a science-fiction novel by EL Doctorow which the author has since disowned.

The Psychomagical Realism of Alejandro Jodorowsky: Eric Benson talks to the tireless polymath.

• A video essay by Matt Zoller Seitz for the 10th anniversary of David Milch’s Deadwood.

Eugene Brennan on Scott Walker’s The Climate of Hunter (1984).

Dune at Pinterest.

• Prophecy Theme from Dune (1984) by Brian Eno | Olivine (1995) by Node | Gobi 110 35′ south 45 58′ (1999) by Monolake

Carceri, thermae and candelabra


Piranesi’s etching which purports to show a statue gallery at Hadrian’s Villa was published in 1770 as part of the artist’s Vedute di Roma series, and conveniently provides a themed link for a pair of new exhibitions. The artist’s attribution of statue gallery was a mistaken one, the structure is actually the remains of Hadrian’s thermae, or baths, but archaeology was still in its infancy in the 18th century so mistakes were inevitable. If you’re fortunate enough to be in Venice during the next two months the Fondazione Cini has a major exhibition of Piranesi’s work, The Art of Piranesi: architect, engraver, antiquarian, vedutista, designer. On display are over three hundred prints which no doubt include many of the Vedute di Roma.


Ornamental candelabrum created by Factum Arte from a design by Piranesi.

Good as that sounds, what’s especially notable about this exhibition is a presentation of three-dimensional works specially created from Piranesi’s designs for candelabra, fireplaces, and other objects based on his studies of artefacts from the ancient world. These pieces have been produced by Factum Arte who have a great website showing the finished pieces and also a page detailing the production of the objects. Also on that page is one of the exhibition’s other features, a 10-minute video by Gregoire Dupond which cleverly joins together and animates a journey through several of Piranesi’s Carceri d’invenzione (Imaginary Prisons). The music accompaniment is Bach’s Cello Suite 2 which happens to be the piece played by Yo-Yo Ma in an earlier animation of the Carceri, so it’s a reasonable guess that the earlier film was an inspiration for this new work. The exhibition runs to November 21, 2010.


Jack’s Bath (2010) by Danny Jauregui. Gouache on canvas.

Hadrian’s obsession with his doomed lover Antinous makes the Emperor a gay icon which explains the connection between Piranesi’s view of the ruined baths and an exhibition of work by American artist Danny Jauregui. There Goes the Neighborhood is at the Leslie Tonkonow Gallery, New York, and features a selection of Jauregui’s paintings of tiles from the bathhouses which were a feature of gay life in the days before AIDS.

I make paintings of bathhouses in ruin. Moldy, disheveled and abandoned, the paintings are memorials to the absence of memorials – indexes of the traumatic erasure inflicted on the radical gay sexuality of the past. They are paintings of what I imagine those spaces to look like, had they not been disguised and hidden from sight. (More.)

The exhibition runs until October 30, 2010. By coincidence gay news blog Towleroad had a post yesterday about New York’s first anti-gay police raid on the Ariston Baths in 1903.


Time Bandits.

Seeing as I posted the picture of Hadrian’s baths I have to also post this shot from Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits (1981) showing the interior of the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness. Here we see the Piranesi’s ruined baths incorporated into a vast and gloomy space which must surely be inspired by the Carceri, the views of Rome being absorbed by the artist’s darker imaginings. And for a final piece of trivia, writer Marguerite Yourcenar is not only the author of Memoirs of Hadrian (1951), a novel about the Emperor’s passion for Antinous, but also penned an essay about the Carceri. I haven’t read either of those works so I think it’s time to add them to the shopping list.

Update: For those in the UK, there’s also Piranesi’s Prisons, an exhibition at the Mead Gallery, Warwick, from now until December.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The etching and engraving archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
La Tour by Schuiten & Peeters
Set in Stone
Hadrian and Greek love
Piranesi as designer
Vedute di Roma
Aldous Huxley on Piranesi’s Prisons
The Cult of Antinous

Hadrian: Empire and Conflict


The sculpture known as Antinous Mondragone (c.130 AD).

The planned British Museum exhibition I mentioned in January, a major examination of the Emperor Hadrian’s life and influence, opens today and runs to 26 October, 2008. Hadrian means more to Britons than most Roman Emperors on account of the still-extant wall which bears his name, built to divide England from the untameable wilds of Scotland, or Caledonia as it was then known. On a personal level he fascinates for his obsession with his dead lover Antinous and the mausoleum (later the Castel Sant’Angelo) and villa he left in Rome.

Hadrian was a man of great contradiction in both his personality and reign: a military man and homosexual, he combined ruthless suppression of dissent with cultural tolerance. He reacted with great ferocity against the Jewish Revolt in 132 AD (examples of poignant objects belonging to Jewish rebels hiding in caves near Jerusalem will be included in the exhibition), but he was also a dedicated philhellene, passionate about Greek culture. He took a young Greek male lover, Antinous, who accompanied him on his travels around the empire. In AD 130, Antinous drowned in mysterious circumstances in Egypt. Consumed by grief, Hadrian founded a new city, Antinoupolis, close to the spot where he died and had Antinous declared a god, linked to the Egyptian deity Osiris. A cult of Antinous-Osiris sprang up resulting in statues, busts and silverware featuring the image of the newly deified youth.

And proving that this is a subject whose time has come, John Boorman has a film in production based on Marguerite Yourcenar’s Memoirs of Hadrian. Given Boorman’s uneven output that could be either a good or bad thing; we’ll no doubt find out soon enough.

A very modern emperor | Mary Beard on Hadrian
Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage site
Virtual Museum: Antinous Portraits

Previously on { feuilleton }
Hadrian and Greek love
Vedute di Roma
The Cult of Antinous