Learn more about Alexis Waller and click image above to watch the video.
“Nicolas Guagnini: The first piece of yours I’d ever seen was a small painted sculpture, a parrot with the face of Dante Alighieri. My obvious reaction was amusement. Dante could not stop writing, just as parrots can’t stop talking. Once the humor subsided, I understood what you were getting at: Dante was giving us a version of biblical themes, namely heaven and hell, in his own contemporary terms. Are you a theological commentator or an evolutionist?
Sergio Vega: I am glad you bring up that piece, Dante-parrot, because it functions as an axis upon which most of the work I have produced in the last eight years hinges. At the time I made it, I was puzzled by the term U.S. politicians were using, when they referred to the countries of Latin America as “our backyard.” Immersed as I was in Dante’s work, I decided to make a cast from a replica of his death mask to represent a habitant of that backyard, like one of those cement dwarfs people use to decorate their gardens. Dante is turned into a parrot as if someone had put a spell on him; he is entering the Garden of Eden (in Canto 28 of Purgatorio). Besides the joke that the parrot’s beak is in this case Dante’s famous nose, the piece proposes a paradox of ideas about originality, staging the contradictions of a constituted Latin subject: Dante, the author who articulated a new language in order to produce his own work, is embodied in the vernacular representation of a bird that mimics speech.” [. . .] –Nicolàs Guagnini, Bombsite, 2001
Contributed by Hope Stockton (Bowdoin ’07)
“…Inside the building that tranquillity gives way to a comic-book version of Dante’s Divine Comedy, with strict divisions between various worlds. Visitors enter via an internal bridge that crosses over an underground atrium. From here, a vast hall conceived on the scale of a piazza leads to a cafeteria overlooking the calm surface of a reflecting pool. On one side of the hall looms the ziggurat form of the museum; on the other, a wall of glass-enclosed offices. Here the spectral glow of the interior of the cast-glass skin evokes the stained-glass windows of a medieval cathedral.” –Nicolai Ouroussoff, The New York Times, May 26, 2007
Contributed by Darren Fishell (Bowdoin, ’09)
“Dutch architect Luc Merx’s lampshade is an algorithmic mass of writhing nudes that recalls the classical motif of the fall of the damned. He imagines the lamp hanging above a dining table, the shock of the frozen, terrified bodies disturbing diners with age-old questions of guilt and morality, issues usually kept behind closed doors.” [. . .] –Costas Voyatzis, kostasvoyatzis, April 19, 2007
“A five year project which involved adapting the text of the entire “Divine Comedy” into contemporary slang and setting the action in contemporary urban America. The project resulted in three, limited edition books, Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. Each book contained more than 60 original lithographs and was published by Trillium Press in San Francisco.” —Sandow Birk
See also: Sandow Birk’s film “Dante’s Inferno” (2007)