CIVIC VIRTUE II – The Imperialized Confederate & Walz, at the Villa Dessauer, Bamberg

Slideshow & video installation during the CIVIC VIRTUE II solo at Villa Dessauer, Stadthausgalerie Bamberg.

Gijs’s interest is aligned with the implications of symbols, the potency of which lies precisely in their ability to hold different meanings which are symmetrically opposite to one another. These symbols range from medieval allegories concerning morality, as well as the transformation of such signs during the Enlightenment, as they came to include the vocabulary of classical mythology. The ability of these symbols to communicate lies in their ability to hold variations within themselves.

Marsyas, a popular icon representing free speech and criticism of authority during the Roman Republic period for example, was especially associated with the plebeian cause when it opposed the ruling oligarchy. When Augustus came into power, he associated himself with Apollo, who flayed the skin of Marsyas as punishment for losing a competition in music. Thus Marsyas was a particularly potent symbol of subversion in the early history of the Empire, though in later times, such implications of dissent were successfully suppressed and the prevalent association between Apollo and Marsyas became limited to a version revolving solely around the role of music in Marsyas’s transgression against Apollo. Yet the potency of its symbolism rests on the obvious brutality of Apollo’s reaction even to the extent of expressing an internal contradiction in what was presumed to be a benevolent censorship. These shifts in meaning are processes that express the fluency of how one symbol morphs into another.

As the ambiguity of such symbolism lies in the synthesis of polar opposites, then its representation in the form of portraiture is meant to uncover the space between mutually exclusive similarities, that is: a framework of time. Gijs thus proposes a landscape fashioned out of its own subject matter to address the ways an artwork can or can not be replaced by an understanding of itself.

See further:

Video installation ‘Waltz’: two motion pictures edited alongside each other to resemble a clock.
The CIVIC VIRTUE II exhibition marked the beginning of CIVIC VIRTUE’s Grand Tour.