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What is this exciting installation, which itself fills a whole medieval room of Milan’s Cathedral Museum, the former Royal Palace? Perhaps such kind of modern statue of the Virgin Mary, like the one set up in recent years by the gate of the Roman ghetto, in the Rose of Sion Chapel, before which for centuries the local Jews had to listen every Saturday to the sermons of the Domenicans, so they had an opportunity for conversion?


No. It is rather that kind of spontaneous folk construction, which develops and ramifies step by step, without any prior comprehensive plan, under the hand of local artisans, to whom the commission of a never seen scale allows to experience the child living in them. Like the postmodern constructivist formwork of the concrete church seen in the Ukraine.


The inevitable fate of such ad hoc constructions is passing away, except when they were intended to be the unseen supporting structure of permanent works. Like the iron structure in Milan, which is no contemporary art, as you would think at first glance, but a two hundred and fifty years old steampunk device. It was used in 1770, during the Assumption Day procession, to make lighter and more portable the huge figure of the Virgin Mary taken up in heavens. Her head, carved by Giuseppe Antignati, is seen on her side at the exhibition, just like the small model, which shows, how the folds of her dress were supposed to settle along the field lines neatly welded here and there on the construction. As is the case of the Ukrainian formworks, the secondary structure is much more exciting than the visible final conception.


Esteban Salas (Santiago de Cuba, 1725-1803): Assumpta est Maria. Teresa Paz, Ars Longa de la Havane, Maitrise de la Cathédral de Metz

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