Monday, June 22, 2009

Veronese: Wedding at Cana--Vision by Peter Greenaway

Not to be missed in Venice:

From June 6 to September 13, 2009 the San Giorgio Maggiore Island will host an extraordinary event: The Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese. A Vision by Peter Greenaway, a multimedia performance is the result of the collaboration between Peter Greenaway, the Dutch director of photography and special effects wizard Reiner van Brummelen and the Milan-based production company directed by Franco Laera Change Performing Arts. The latest has organised and produced all the British artist’s recent multimedia events.

The performance – a true multimedia event lasting about 50 minutes – will make spectators relive the episode of the marriage feast at Cana where Christ accomplished his first miracle, as narrated in the Gospel of John. Greenaway will point out to the public the painting’s scores of characters, from the servants preparing dishes, to the banquet guests, to the guests of honor – Jesus Christ and his mother Mary – seated at the center of the painting’s architectural composition, in an on-going crescendo culminating in the narration’s crucial moment: the miracle of water turning into wine.

Roberta Smith comments for the NY Times:

But it is the formal and spatial parsing of the image, its figures, hefty architectural setting and deep vista that is most enthralling. Often familiar art historical ploys are used, but it is still amazing to see so many of them put through their paces so quickly and effortlessly and at actual scale.

In one sequence the figures are numbered and Jesus’ centrality is confirmed with a series of radiating red lines. In another, color drains from the image and the work’s grand spatial recession is measured in white lines on grisaille. There is a shift to stark white on black and the image rotates, so that we are once more above it. Different figure groups are highlighted: you see, for example, that the arrangement of Jesus and his party presages the Last Supper.

Different reactions to the miracle — skepticism, fear, devotion — are singled out. Details are brought forward, like the two men craning out from the upper reaches of the columned edifice who have, for eternity, their own overhead view. Or the meat carver whose knife is positioned directly over Jesus’ head.

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