The most interesting thing I found about Rome, was not the religious iconography and buildings dotted everywhere, although that may seem like it would be my favourite aspect of trip. I in fact loved the way that the city was intertwined with the ancient ruins throughout the city; history and tradition so deeply entwined within the atmosphere of the streets. However, the place that I found most interesting was the forum on palatine hill; a pace of rest, and a place of lords, the area was absolutely beautiful, being ever so slightly lit by the warm Italian sun; illuminating the dust clouds that whipped up every now and again, and the dense foliage and greenery dotted all over the hill, amongst the ruins of the emperor’s palaces.
The view from the fountain
As we wandered up the hill, we came across a fountain that had been taken over by the flora in the area in a very interesting way; the back of the fountain had been completely covered, but nowhere else was foliage present. This fountain, beautiful upon first sight, also held some surprises; goldfish lived in the pool of the fountain, but also resided under the foliage, hinting at an expanse of water just out of sight of our eyes, within the fountain’s stone. The view from this space was breathtaking’ allowing us to see the first patch of the forum in all it’s glory, stretched out across our peripheral vision; I thought the forum would end here, but no, it continues for a great deal yet.
A dust cloud illuminated by the sun
A closed off section of the forum that we visited
As we ascended higher and higher up the forum, we came across a cordoned off area of the forum; a series of buildings that were empty, but had been rebuilt in places. I find the way the architecture looks, the way the stone holds a slight beige colouration; it’s somewhat attractive to my eye. I have a penchant for stone, especially the way that it cannot be recreated perfectly; once a stone has been destroyed, or at least a piece has come off of it, it becomes something else; it can never regrow that piece of stone and regain it’s form. This is most interesting, as I am so fascinated by concepts of resurrection and rebirth. Often times, we see that something resurrected is not like the aforementioned living being, and stone seems to share this quality; once broken, it cannot be fixed.
The forum was beautiful, it held so many wonderful sights and natural beauties that I could have happily spent my entire stay in this place. Another great addition to the forum was the museum situated at the top of the hill. As we wandered around the space, we came across a diorama of the first housing settlements that resided on Palatine hill. There’s something very rustic about the way it was formed, something that speaks to me on some deep emotional level. I find that I have a great obsession with ‘shelters’, as to what exactly this means, I do not quite know. However, a lot of my work focuses on spaces, and I have worked on enclosed spaces in previous projects; through the cocoons to the alchemical circles, space has been a continuing theme in my work.
Is this because I fear the outside world? Do I require somewhere to reside, somewhere away from the rest of the world?
These images of the huts, depicting how they were built, is something fascinating. So simple, yet so effective. They work on function, not form; but through this, they achieve such a beautiful shape, it surprises me that there would be no factor of the looks involved in the creation process.
The plaque reads ‘Altar to an unknown God’
This was another artefact that fascinated me in the museum, an altar, but to an unknown God. It promotes a thought as to human beings feeling a need to worship. I read somewhere that there is an intrinsic desire to worship some higher power, those who worship a deity are pretty cut and dry, but those who deem themselves not religious worship other human beings, or at the very least, human achievement (most notably the sciences, as to which people aspire to be). Humans idolise others throughout their lives, and we have from the beginning of our time on this earth. What pushes us to worship? is it biological? or a requirement to be sentient?
Samples of Marble from the Forum
We also visited the zoo in Rome, as we felt that it would be a nice change from the death and negativity surrounding the religious areas of Rome. This idea, it would turn out, would be wrong. This zoo was dead, there was no hope here, and it soon became apparent as to why. We entered the zoo and turned into an area where there was an exhibition on poaching and the cruelty subjected upon animals for their bodily parts. There was a redeeming factor, and that was only in the form of a whale skull; as to which I find a great fondness. As Moby Dick is my favourite novel of a time; I feel like it is a perfect representation of the madness that inflicts humanity when they give into their darkest desires. The whale is a recurring image in my mind, and I feel like I should make some form of work that is relevant to the whale skull, to the symbolism of it.
Then, we came across this lion. It was quite possibly the most saddening sight I have ever seen, this lion lay there, flies covering it’s face, looking like any aspect of a soul had been taken away from this lion. I saw the sadness within it’s eyes, the way it looked like there was no happiness left in those big eyes, it brought Sarah to tears, and very almost myself. The enclosure was so small, and dirty, and ratty, as if it had not been tended to for years. It was absolutely despicable, and it ruined my perceptions of Rome in one fell swoop. Absolutely disgusting, I feel as angry now as I did when I looked at it at the time, as to where I was shaking with anger.
There was also a passage into the reptile house that went under a series of trees, and the roots hung down from the roof of the passage. Again, an enclosed space, one that I feel a resonance for.
On the third day we visited a contemporary art museum, and came across an installation within Enei Contemporanea; ‘Harmonic Motion’ by Toshiko Horuchi. It encouraged the user to become lost in the colourful environment, to become the inner child, and to lose their inhibitions and become one with the interactivity and the aspects of play ‘woven’ (excuse the pun) into the work. The piece was beautiful, both in form and in function, and brought a happiness upon myself that completely removed the sadness I had felt the day before at the zoo. I could not feel any negativity, I could not feel any worries or fears or problems from the outside world, it a became one thing; joy. This joy was unlike anything I had experienced since I was a child, and the feeling of becoming a child again; a concept that I have explored in previous works, filled me with excitement.
Another installation in the Macro, I was unable to find the name of the artist responsible for this piece, as well as the title of it, but, I love pieces that incorporate soft light into their execution; as light is a medium that is able to be handed and moulded by humanity, which seems unbelievable to me even know.
‘Substance’ is travelling around the world
We visited the Vatican on the last day, and I cannot describe the wonder I felt from walking around this monolithic building. The sheer size of it was mind boggling, and that is not to mention the amount of wealth that poured from every corner of the place. There was something terrifying about the place, but also so very inviting; maybe the promise of eternal life from the church has not escaped my mind, as it still remains there in my work. The gold that covered the walls was astounding, but it also spoke to me in relation to the sheer amount of homeless people that littered the streets of Rome; the church promotes charity, yet will not give those on it’s doorsteps a place to stay, and a bite to eat? it’s quite despicable, and this further fuelled my disagreement with the church and it’s whole ideology. However, I will not deny that the Vatican is quite possibly one of the most awe-inspiring places I have ever visited in my short time on this earth.
Rome; a place where religion and death go hand in hand.