Chance

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Christian Boltanski, Chance: French Pavillion, Venice Biennale 2011

“The work presented at Venice is optimistic in its reflection on chance and destiny; the chance of birth against the chance of death. Is everything pre-determined? Who controls destiny? Has our path already been decided? Is God present or absent? At the entrance to the pavilion, the visitor is invited to sit on one of the wooden chairs. A voice whispers to him. Each chair “speaks” in a different language uttering the words “Is this the last time?” Is this a message of hope? Or a troubling announcement?… The interior of the pavilion is criss-crossed by a moving walkway, that travels at great speed and upon which hundreds of photos of childrenʼs faces have been printed. The walkway stops randomly and one of the childrenʼs faces is lit up and an alarm sounds. Chance has picked out one child. The process begins all over again, until the walkway stops again and the alarm signals Chanceʼs next choice.” (Press Release)

Monument in Nuremberg, Germany

“O my soul, do not aspire to immportal life, but

exhaust the limits of the possible”

Pindar, Pythian iii

Messkirch, Germany

The sunset in Vouliagmeni is one of the most beautiful in the world. It is in harmony with Man.

You can reach all areas, you can swim, you can walk, even the rocks are hospitable.

Sunset in Vouliagmeni, Attica, Greece

Even in Wintertime there are brave souls who swim with their bodies.

When I look at them I always think of Schubert’s Winterreise, set on 24 poems of Wilhelm Mueller. Schubert called it “a cycle of terrifying songs”. Here are two of them, sung by Mathias Goerne, accompanied by Alfred Brendel.

Täuschung – Deception

A light on the dark and icy road at night, might be a warm place to stay, or the deception of a beautiful face.

Der Wegweiser  – The Signpost

Straying restlessly away from the roads, he still seeks rest. There is always a signpost in front of him, pointing to the road from which no wanderer returns. Death?

Sunrise in Kaletzi, near Marathon, Greece

The landscape is barren. Three years ago multiple fires scorched the earth and destroyed beautiful pine forests all around.

But the sun every time it rises, makes the barren landscape look beautiful.

Richard Strauss was one of the greatest composers. Morgen! (“Tomorrow!”) is the last in a set of four songs composed in 1894, set in a poem of John Henry Mackay.

It is sung by Dame Janet Baker.

Tomorrow!

Tomorrow again will shine the sun
And on my sunlit path of earth
Unite us again, as it has done,
And give our bliss another birth…
The spacious beach under wave-blue skies
We’ll reach by descending soft and slow,
And mutely gaze in each other’s eyes,
As over us rapture’s great hush will flow.

Martin Heidegger's Feldweg in Messkirch, Germany

In 1948, one year before his death on 1949, Richard Strauss composed “Fier Letzte Lieder”, his “Last Four Songs” for soprano and orchestra.

At Sunset is sung by Gundula Janowitz. Berliner Philharmoniker is conducted by Herbert von Karajan.

Im Abendrot – At Sunset

We have gone through sorrow and joy
hand in hand;
Now we can rest from our wandering
above the quiet land.

Around us, the valleys bow;
the air is growing darker.
Just two skylarks soar upwards
dreamily into the fragrant air.

Come close to me, and let them flutter.
Soon it will be time for sleep.
Let us not lose our way
in this solitude.

O vast, tranquil peace,
so deep at sunset!
How weary we are of wandering—
Is this perhaps death?

Sunset in Vouliagmeni, Attica, Greece

“Although The Myth of Sisyphus poses mortal problems, it sums up for me as a lucid invitation to live and to create in the very midst of the desert.”

Albert Camus, in the Preface to his book, March 1955.

3 COMMENTS

  1. the unknown… and adventure…

    two words that make Chance, expected…
    and give to Vouliagmeni sunset a divine beauty

    but is it really Chance?

  2. Αν κοιτάξεις προς το παρελθόν: Η τύχη: “ουδέ ποτ ήν”
    Αν κοιτάξεις προς το μέλλον: Το άγνωστο: “ουδ έσται:
    Αν μείνεις στο παρόν: Είσαι παρών: “νυν έστιν ομού παν”. Είσαι παρών: “Παν δ’ έμπλεον εστιν εόντος”.

    Η τύχη, το άγνωστο, ετικέτες για το ανείπωτο, το άφραστο, σημαίνοντα του δρόμου του μη-όντος, δρόμο που η θεά Αλήθεια έφραξε στον Παρμενίδη. Σημαίνοντα του γραμμικού χρόνου, του χρόνου της τεχνικής, του χρόνου της προόδου, του χρόνου που χρονίζει την διαδρομή από το τίποτα στο τίποτα. Στο παρόν, στο άπλετο φως της παρουσίας, τα πάντα είναι. Εκεί η ανατολή είναι, το ηλιοβασίλεμα είναι. Τίμημα της αποστασίας από το παρόν: η τύχη, το άγνωστο, το καλό και το κακό, το γιατί.

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