Walking in Circles
And it has to start here…
If ‘Walking in Circles’ is about confines and boundaries, then islands by nature have edges and limits. One of the most attractive things for me about Venice is that after a time of great expansion it could go physically go no further: there are no sprawling, dystopian suburbs or industrial estates that taint a visit to a historical centre. It is what it is, as the late great James Brown put it.
One quintessential image that unites this island of multiple parishes and co-existing communities into a single, coherent vision of place, space, vision, and identity is Jacopo de Barbari’s woodcut map ‘Venetie’ (1500) now in the Museo Correr. It is the starting point of my research and three-month residency at the International School of Graphics.
Professor Bronwen Wilson says that it brings together “the visitor’s conflicting experiences of the cityscape: the numerous islands seen upon entering the lagoon, the panoramic narrative of façades seen from the waterways, the seemingly incomprehensible network of campi, streets, and bridges”. (1)
There could be no other choice but Mercury as the presiding symbol hovering over the city. As the metal that moves between liquid and solid, the god ‘stands at the boundary between the imaginary and real, translating the infinite into the finite, the divine spirit into sensible appearance’ (1). This messenger, talisman of commerce and protector of trade and travellers, points the reader to the inscription that circles his powerful physique: ‘I Mercury shine favourably on this above all other emporia’.
There is plenty about the labyrinth in the other blog feeds. But this feed is about the whole, and the first thing to do is walk round the edge, which I’m planning to do on the next guaranteed nice day. Anyone want to join me?
(1) Bronwen Wilson: ‘The World in Venice’ University of Toronto Press 2005. ISBN 0-8020-8725-6