Probing the labyrinth with PROA
As part of the PROA "Labyrinths" exhibition, inaugurated on September 3 and sponsored by Tenaris-Ternium-Tecpetrol, the Fundación PROA Education Department is offering three free online classes via zoom as well as an online seminar of four classes entitled "Cinema as a labyrinth”.
Labyrinths are both real and imaginary spaces; defined, walled-off enclosures that represent physical crossroads and mental dilemmas. They are spaces where, since times of yore, we have been able to lock up our mythological and literary monsters, putting them out of sight. In its latest visual venture, PROA inaugurated "Labyrinths" on September 3, a collection of references and representations drawn from history, literature, cinema and the plastic arts, combined as a tour of experiences through its art rooms, organized into four main themes.
According to Adriana Rosemberg, the president of Fundación PROA in Buenos Aires, “the idea arose a few months ago when we were reflecting on the complexity of society’s current problems, both nationally and internationally. We have always believed that cultural institutions should stay abreast of world events.”
In response to the question of how the labyrinth is related to our reality, the art specialist explains that, “We are living in a time of confusion and bewilderment, unable to stop wondering what’s going to happen next. We are immersed in a world of unsettling images and complex news, making everyday life very unstable, and we can’t seem to find a way out. History shows us that this has already happened in the past, so we tried to come up with a name for this collective perception of great concern. This is what gave rise to the concept of the “labyrinth”, a word that combines sensation, emotion and location,” adds Rosenberg.
Labyrinths are usually classified according to two groups. First, there is the simplest and most classical form that has been around for thousands of years, the unicursal labyrinth, featuring a single, albeit winding and often complex pathway leading to the center; once its logic is understood, it’s easy to find your way out again. Then there is the multicursal labyrinth, often called a maze, offering alternative routes, where to reach the center—and to get out again—you have to choose from several correct or incorrect pathways.
If we look more closely at its objective, in addition to other multiple uses, the labyrinth is nothing more than a simple test of reason designed to challenge our deductive capacity. The game is about the possibility of connection, of establishing similarities.
To enrich the experience, PROA is also organizing a contribution from its Education Department consisting of three online classes (via Zoom, totally free of charge), and a seminar of four classes entitled "Cinema as a labyrinth" for which a fee will be charged. (For more information click here).
The first online class, to be held on Wednesday, September 21 at 5:00 p.m., is called “The labyrinth and the city: Cartographies”, as befits the curatorial proposal underlying the “Labyrinths” exhibition.
“It’s an invitation to embark upon a journey through the representations of the city as labyrinth, starting from depictions of the walled city of Jericho, in a juxtaposition of eras, all the way to the contemporary aspect of a city shown through intricate cartography and the notion of speed. The 2-dimensional vision of these urban mazes enables us to follow the lines proposed by the artists, alternately losing and finding ourselves within and with the city.”
This online class plays host to an exchange between artists employing very different techniques and contrasting perspectives, prompting us to rethink the representations of space, from medieval codices to works by contemporary artists, such as León Ferrari and Pablo Siquier; the approach taken demands that we see their contributions as part of a whole.
The session on Wednesday, October 5, at 5:00 p.m. explores “The city as paradox: labyrinths and steps”. It will examine various representations by artists who dive deep into the spatial issue by working with the idea of perspective, employing visual traps and paradoxes as devices. Specifically, it will analyze the relationships between the works of the Italian Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778), Dutchman Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972), and the contemporary Brazilian artist Regina Silveira. Piranesi's emblematic engravings fashion spaces for imaginary prisons with impossible architectures, while the works of Escher and Silveira distort perspective and perception, destabilizing our notions of spatial equilibrium to create paradoxical spaces that, in the best baroque way, challenge the viewer's certainties.
The third session is scheduled for Wednesday, October 19, at 5:00 p.m. and is called “Labyrinths in the Cinema”, an analysis of how cinema represents the "topos" (common places) of the labyrinth and an examination of the possibilities enabled by cinematographic depiction, such as image, time and movement, and the language used to resignify cinematography. At times, the labyrinth is the space—real or imaginary—of fantasy necessary for children to escape and find thrills and adventure, as long it is not inhabited by the dreaded unseen monster, and at others, it is the darkness of spaces leading to the ancestral danger attributed to the feminine.
Finally, the online seminar on "Cinema as a labyrinth" (fee-charging) offers four classes hosted by experts Ricardo Parodi, Anabella Speziale and Fernando Martin Peña. The program is an invitation to study and analyze the conceptual, symbolic, semantic and visual presence of the "labyrinth" as portrayed in a selection of local and international films. The four classes will be taught over four weeks (Wednesday, September 28, Ricardo Parodi; Wednesday, October 5, Ricardo Parodi; Thursday, October 13, Fernando Martín Peña and Thursday, October 20, Anabella Speziale). Each session lasts two hours and will be held online, on the Zoom platform.