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Żieme – Austin Camilleri

Żieme by Austin Camilleri - photo by Elisa von Brockdorff

Żieme by Austin Camilleri - photo by Elisa von Brockdorff

Żieme by Austin Camilleri - photo by Elisa von Brockdorff

2014
Bronze and Gozo hard stone plinth
Dimensions: 180 x 80 x 235 cm (horse); 190 x 75 x 170 cm (plinth)

[We are living under domination of ‘the sign’ – visual images, as Jean Baudrillard famously announced, have lost all connections with the referent and become more real than the real. Signs and images are edited, photoshopped. ‘Truth’ gets lost in the fluid murky boundaries of aspirations, perfection and the power to choose. We consume the manipulated image but the off-cuts are key. The real is lying/dying on the editor’s floor.]

Monumental figures are visual images of historical power. Horses with choreographed and codified stances indicate degrees of suffering, sacrifice or victory of their heroic riders.

Żieme – magnificent sentinel at the breach of our city’s walls.
The stance is choreographed … or is it inevitable?

Space, and what’s not in place – that’s the key.
The horse is the monument – the iconic sign that imprints on our retina as we rush past with eyes on what’s ahead and minds on what’s not.

Burnished bronze: power and permanence.
But power is not always what it seems, or what it is made to seem. Monuments are manicured versions of truth-as-selected. The power they portray owes as much to manipulation/omission as to what is presented.

Żieme is a monument to what is no longer there. Ormaybe of what never really was. Or what might occur.
It commands us to look closer. The obvious is never clear – till it is – and we then try as we might to unburden ourselves of it.

The space on Żieme’s back is the place where power would sit.
The location talks volumes. Power displaced. Power unseated stands off against the seat of power. Piano and politics – harmonies of discord.

How long can our four legged beauty stand on three?
Power/collapse – truth or subversion? In resonance with Sacredaustin (1998), Kelma bejn tnejn (2008) and Homo immortalis (2011), power motives are called into question; truth and her bedfellow deception exposed; and emphasis is on what is hidden, missing, manipulated. Just as the gaping red holes in the Pittura pittura palimpsets invited exploration of the texture and detail beneath, Żieme offers a conceptual twist rooted in unexpected absence.

Żieme and what’s not there.
Żiemel zopp? (lame non-starter?) Or heroic stalwart and monument to (un)truth? The referent has gone – set free. The sign is what it is. The off-cuts are key.

Dr Gillian Martin

Photos by Elisa von Brockdorff