Let a thousand flowers bloom – Anselm Kiefer

Let a thousand flowers bloom – Anselm Kiefer

How art can sublimate the disaster, After the terrible high tide that hit Venice 

Some days after the terrible high tide, that occurred in Venice during the night on the 12th November 2019, I received a phone call from my friend Fiora. Very exited, she told me she just….

Mrs. Fiora in the corridor of her apartment in Venice

She just scattered all the books she kept in the storage cellar at the ground floor, on the corridor of her apartment at the third floor, in order to dry them. Once I entered her house I felt like I was inside an Anselm Kiefer’s painting: the scene in front of me was incredible: hundreds of books – the thoughts of her husband, Helenio Herrera– were lying on the floor, like waves of the, just passed, high tide.

Fiora emerged from a nightmare or a dream, from a vortex that evoked the scenography for an opera. “Let a thousand flowers bloom” was the title of a series of Anselm Kiefer’s paintings; like Mao Zedong in Anselm Kiefer’s paintings, there was no one around her, no one to listen to her. A statue in the desert. She was sitting at the end of the corridor with a sad lion (the lion is the symbol of Venice) and a candle in the left hand, and it seemed to me like I had a torrent in flood coming to me.

Mao Zedong in an Anselm Kiefer's painting
Mao Zedong in an Anselm Kiefer's painting, from the series "Let a thousand flowers bloom"

Both in Anselm Kiefer’s paintings and in my picture of Fiora, the path widens as it approaches the base of the frame, which is the only access route to the house from the position of the viewer: or, one could say, the viewer is already inside the frame itself. An attempt to sublimate the disaster, trying to remove the dramas of history, as if they were anxieties to escape in a positive sense.

Mrs. Fiora in her apartment after the high tide in Venice

Helenio Herrera, the wizard of the Grande Inter football team of the 1960s, and also of, among others, Barcellona and the national teams of Italy, France and Spain, was an elusive man, indomitable, determined to always turn fate to his own advantage. Fiora, his widow, turned the terrible high tide into a piece of art, and I know this was her own way to sublimate the apocalypse of Venice.

You can see my Photo tours and Photo Walks in Venice in my dedicated website: www.photowalkinvenice.com

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