Edouard Glissant in Geneva


Martinican writer Edouard Glissant and Spanish painter Miguel Barceló participated yesterday in a conversation about the creative process organized by the United Nations Organization in Geneva. The discussion, which took place under the gigantic dome decorated by Barceló and unveiled six months ago at the Palace of Nations, centered on the difficulties artists face in controlling the materials with which they work. Glissant declared himself ”in awe” of Barceló’s dome painting, which he described as “a dome where we can see that the world listens to and finds itself, where it does not reject itself.” Glissant commented that Barceló had “crossed a frontier” in his struggle against his materials, adding that many painters have allowed themselves to be “defeated by their materials.” “I have always lamented the fact that artists have opted for ease of installation, for video and photography.” He added that art installations, when they are used as foundations for a work of art, represent “the retreat of the artist before the difficulties of the material before him.”

Barceló said that his work on the dome was “completely experimental” and that he began it without having solved the technical problems presented by the enormity of the space. The work allowed him “to learn about the relationship between painting and the body, and of the body with the world.” He explained: “I discovered that my hand was like the hand of a fly in this enormous space and I had to create tools to manage it, so as to be able to repeat gestures that I had made with my hand in my workshop.”

Glissant commented that “the paradox of the dome is that art is inexplicable, it requires moderation as well as excess, disorder as well as order.” He said that the dome created by Barceló “is a sign that we can commit an act of madness in a solemn place such as this.”


Photo: Reuters [The newly renovated Room XX is pictured after the unveiling ceremony at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva November 18, 2008. Spanish artist Miguel Barceló was commissioned by the Foundation ONUART on the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to undertake the painting of the ceiling, the most extensive work of art in the history of the United Nations at the venue for the Human Rights Council. Barceló used over one hundred tones of paint with pigments from all corners of the globe on the enormous 1500 meters squared dome.] http://www.daylife.com/photo/0cIe1K0apW9jH

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