A House for William Shakespeare - Esbergen Sabitov - Russia - First Prize
Not every year we have the chance to pay our homage to two great women poets... but this year there are 50 years since the death of Anna Akhmatova, and 75 years since the tragic death of Marina Tsvetaeva.
We celebrated, over the years, many famous men, through our competitions... and not enough women.
It is high time to attempt to correct this, all the more so since women, we believe, will save our world, and if not them, indeed, who...?
A dangerous monopoly on power by men made this world very fragile and unpredictable. We need the voice of the "other," and the woman's voice is much needed... and if through poetry, all for the better.
Please read the two invitational texts below and please reflect on the fragility of the human existence, through the poems of these truly great women writers of poetry.
To dedicate one's life to writing poetry requires heroism, since writing poetry is the most non-"lucrative" human activity. To write poetry, like to love, is the opposite of working for money. If Baudelaire was right in his short poem in prose "L'Etranger" that God and money are antithetical, so are poetry and money!
Capitalism cares about money. Poetry cares about God, Love, Beauty, Nature, Truth.
On which side are we willing to be...?
A HOUSE FOR ANNA AKHMATOVA
We can only begin this invitational text by apologizing that we are a little late: on March 5th there were 50 years since Anna Akhmatova's death.
Fatally, it seems in cultural matters women still, despite occasional good intentions, come second...
But we launched the competition for Alberto Giacometti late too... and just "by accident" we learned about Akhmatova's commemoration this year.
But better later, than never.
So we launch now a celebratory competition for a woman and a poetess, thus doubly "other."
But Akhmatova's success was significant and durable.
After all, how many women had the chance to become Modigliani's model for 20 paintings and drawings...?!?
And how many women had as an ancestor someone related, it seems, to Genghis Khan...?
Akhmatova was a great poet.
But how to design a house for a great poet...?
Very simply: by reading her poetry. Reading as much and as intensely as possible.
WE NEED MORE POETRY IN THE WORLD AND MORE POETS.
Maybe one day we will have again kings and queens and presidents who are not only lawyers and economists and businessmen and army people, but also poets... and maybe even calligraphers, if possible.
But to return to Anna Akhmatova, this "Queen of the Neva" and "Soul of the Silver Age".
There was death, a lot of death, around this great poet... her ex-husband was executed, great poets like Mayakovsky and Esenin and Marina Tsvetaeva committed suicide...
But Akhmatova remained...
She remained to write poetry and to testify, as only a true poet can, about the miseries of history, about the injustices so very present in human life, about the mystery of human existence, about all the major themes of life and death.
We urge you to "find" time to read her poetry.
And to feel and think.
And then to imagine A HOUSE FOR ANNA AKHMATOVA.
At a time when no poet is able, upon her or his death, to gather thousands of people at her or his funeral... as she did.
Let's learn again from the poets!
Let's imagine A HOUSE FOR ANNA AKHMATOVA.
The deadline is the 5th of october, 2016. Please send us ANY work, ANY size, ANY format to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please register, freely, until October 1st, 2016. We will publish all the works received on our website and we will organize an exhibition with the best works received.
A HOUSE FOR MARINA TSVETAEVA
How many mothers had to place their daughters in an orphanage, in order to save them from starvation, and how many lost one of them, nevertheless, to hunger...?
How many women had their husbands executed, and how many of them lived in the terrible poverty Martina Tsvetaeva lived in, towards the end of her life...?
Yes, this great Russian poet knew, first hand, the most abysmal depths of human suffering.
And she died, herself, in debated circumstances, either suicide or forced suicide.
What could be more tragic...?
But beyond the terror of these facts, remains the beautiful, fragile poetry of Marina Tsvetaeva.
All poetry is fragile, just as fragile as Joseph Brodsky's "butterfly", this other great Russian poet who admired Tsvetaeva's work.
Let's admire it too, after reading it.
What is given to us, in increasing doses, today, every day, through all kinds of "media channels...?"
Garbage. Gossip. Cheap drugs for a humanity under anesthesia.
Let's turn our back on them, be it Kim Kardashian's behind, or Madonna's "stupendous" elimination of wrinkles on her hands.
Let's instead concentrate, willfully, on THE WRINKLES OF REAL SUFFERING!
Of which, the true poets are great witnesses.
Marina Tsvetaeva lived. She suffered. She wrote.
Her words are needed.
WE NEED THE FEELINGS, THE THOUGHTS, THE WORDS OF THE POET.
And it is of no solace that a "minor planet" receives his or her name, as it was the case with Marina Tsvetaeva, years after she hanged herself.
Will justice ever arrive on earth...?
We cannot do much.
But we can conceive A HOUSE FOR MARINA TSVETAEVA, as our homage to her.
She died 75 years ago. Let's oppose her death. By reading her poetry, by feeling it, by thinking about it.
Design A HOUSE FOR MARINA TSVETAEVA.
If poetry still means something in our world, obsessed as it is with technology, gossip and unending "communication", let's explore its potential relationship with architecture. How would a building be, that expresses the essence of a poem...? How could we conceive a building, starting with a poem...? And how would we translate the rich but sad biography of a major poet, into a building...?
The deadline is October 8th - the day of her birth. Please send us ANY work, ANY size, ANY format to email@example.com. Please register by October 1st. We will publish all the works received on our website and we will organize an exhibition with the best works.
A HOUSE FOR WASSILY KANDINSKY
No doubt Walter Gropius was a special man. To invite a painter like Kandinsky to teach at the Bauhaus, showed vision and courage. What school of architecture would do something similar, now…?
And, of course, Kandinsky was not the only one.
Gropius was against specialization and against the specialists, who, he said, were merely repeating their mistakes over and over again… funny definition of the specialists.
But we are not celebrating Gropius now, but Kandinsky, this Russian aristocrat who revolutionized painting and who, despite the fact that painted in an “abstract” manner, wrote a book about "The Spiritual in Art."
Inasmuch as the founder and director of an architecture school, today, would have a hard time inviting painters to teach in his school, it would be hard to find a successful contemporary painter advocate the cause of spirit. The very word, indeed, seems to be taboo, quite often, these days.
But while a painter like Malevich, himself concerned with “spiritual matters,” influenced shining stars of today’s architecture, not so much Kandinsky, although his chromatic vectors and snakes would seem quite appropriate for our time.
Maybe the fear of Expressionism made his influence, in architecture, less probable.
Anyway… how would A HOUSE FOR WASSILY KANDINSKY look like, now…?
It would have energy… an aristocratic energy, if we can imagine something like this… since rebelliousness is rather associated with the proletarians, an aristocratic rebelliousness seems less legitimate, although, of course, there were great aristocrats who understood that between them and those less fortunate was a very thin line indeed.
So we invite you to imagine the house of an aristocratic rebel, a prince, in fact. And just because in Russia, at one time, there were many princes, this does not mean that the prince Kandinsky was less significant.
And as a painter, he was and is, a major figure of the Modern Movement.
Just imagine, studying architecture (and the related arts) having as an “instructor” Prince Wassily Kandinsky, not to mention Paul Klee, or Oskar Schlemmer, or Johannes Itten… to name just a few…
What a school, Bauhaus, in its early years…!?!
That creative effervescence that Bauhaus epitomized and Kandinsky illustrated so well in his own painting we would like to see reverberating through time in A HOUSE FOR WASSILY KANDINSKY.
With all due respect for Malevich, we feel it is high time for Kandinsky to influence and inspire architecture.
This is exactly what we are searching for, now, when we will celebrate 150 years since his birth, on December 16th, 2016.
We accept ANY work, ANY size, ANY format. The deadline to submit your work is exactly his birthday. To register, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org by December 1st, 2016, in order to receive a registration number with which to anonymously identify your work. We will publish all the works received on our website and we will organize an exhibition with the best works.
A HOUSE FOR ALBERTO GIACOMETTI
It would be hard to find more appropriate depictions of human beings, now, than those of the great Swiss sculptor, Alberto Giacometti.
Indeed, at the pinnacle of our human accomplishment and progress, we became thinner and thinner, metaphorically speaking, elongated perhaps by the very "success" of our “unprecedented” triumphalism.
What plagued Giacometti…?
Could it be that what plagued him plagued also Samuel Beckett…?
It is well known Beckett's stubborn pessimism: “I can’t go on. I will go on.”
Indeed, it seems Alberto's filiform sculptures whisper the very same thing: "I can’t go on. I will go on."
Brave this tenacity at the edge of the abyss. But maybe exactly there true courage is tested and needed.
Giacometti depicted a human being thinned to the point of almost disappearance. Yet, how condensed, how dense this filiform figures are! Their very fragility is their power.
And we receive encouragements to continue (to live) exactly from these linear abstractions of what a human being is. Yet, these abstractions tremble, you can feel their emotions, you can feel that that linearity does not preclude them of being full of passion, full of emotion.
Yes, these sculptures are the very opposite of artistic triumphalism. And just as, correctly, Joseph Brodsky said that a triumphal church is impossible to conceive, maybe we could say that a serious, sensitive, “knowing” art could also be impossible to be “triumphal.”
But what else is art, if not the metamorphosis of vulnerability into power…? But its power is the power of the blade of grass, of Van Gogh, and, yes, of Giacometti.
We are ALL his sculptures. We are ALL vertical (only for a while) dust. We are ALL mere lines, of a certain length… measurable.
But we are also repositories of immeasurableness, that immeasurableness born from desire, longing, aspiration, dream.
What sustains us, in our darkest hours…?
It is hard to tell. But one thing is for sure: we are perishable. All of us.
Thus, all of us are Giacometti’s sculptures.
Let’s imagine A HOUSE FOR ALBERTO GIACOMETTI.
A HOUSE FOR A FILIFORM HUMAN BEING.
A HOUSE FOR THE TENACITY, AND POWER, OF A THIN, TREMBLING BLADE OF GRASS.
A HOUSE FOR A GIACOMETTI LINE.
THE HOUSE OF DISAPPEARANCE, REBORN.
Please send us ANY work, ANY size, ANY format. The deadline to submit your work will be the 10th of October, 2016, his 115th birthday. He died 50 years ago, on January 10th. Please write to email@example.com to register by October 1st, 2016. You will receive a registration number with which to anonymously to identify your work. The registration is free. We will publish all the works received and we will organize an exhibition with the best projects.
A HOUSE FOR "L'HOMME QUI MARCHE"
What is money...?
What is art...?
And what is their relationship...?
In 2010 Giacometti's sculpture "L'Homme qui Marche" ("Walking Man") was sold, at Sotheby's, for the largest amount of money ever paid for a piece of art: more than one hundred millions dollars!
Of course, the "media" advertised the event immediately.
Why this very sculpture, at this particular time...?
Perhaps there are reasons why this sculpture, and not a different one, gained this kind of celebrity, now.
Let's look at it: what do we see...? A life size filiform man walking / striding. A Marching man. L'homme qui marche.
Nothing could be simpler.
Yet, there is complexity in this simplicity.
And it is a simplicity that seems to have relevant meaning for us, pioneers of a new millennium.
We read that the lucky (?) owner of the sculpture waited forty years for this auction, and it seems nothing would have stopped him. And nothing did.
That collectors are capable of unlimited fanaticism is known.
Strangely, what this auction (like so many others) succeeds in showing is actually the immense subjectivity of our monetary value system.
Anything could cost almost anything, depending on what we project, ourselves, into that something. It is a true projection mystique.
In many parts of the world you can build several apartment buildings with the money this collector paid for this sculpture. But those apartment buildings, doesn't matter how big or how sophisticated, would have offered no chance for the above mentioned projection mystique.
There is a will, a tenaciousness that the Walking Man has that no apartment building could ever have.
This Walking Man walks for life, his and others'.
It is Pro Life, but not naively so.
It is skeptically confident.
Without grand illusions, it moves on.
It seems to say: the best way out of it is through it - as the common saying goes.
He makes us remember Samuel Beckett's words: "I can't go on. I will go on."
This stubborn walking man is an incredible antidote to despair (even though perhaps born FROM despair), a beautiful encouragement to persist, to continue, to NOT give up.
It is a testimony about endurance.
This will to move on, to transcend disaster, to assert life doesn't matter what, is a great Yea saying! With the simplest means Giacometti gives us hope. The movement is the simplest imaginable, the one that we take for granted every day, every hour, every minute. Walking. Striding. Moving forward.
But this essential act of life is a mystery, by itself. As man is. As life is. The three are magnificently connected in this sculpture.
We invite you to design a house for this Walking Man. Or for any walking man. For any volition that does not want to say No to life, but yes, yes, yes. Stubbornly Yes! Beyond and above all difficulties. Doesn't matter what!
There are probably no more stubborn artworks in the whole world. No other art work that had all the reasons, apparently, to depict the very opposite: being stuck, being lost, being blase, being defeated, being unable of regeneration. But BEING, refusing to forget this! BEING!
A magnificent (though the simplest) invitation to move.
Simply, tenaciously, silently, smilingly perhaps.