International Biennial of Contemporary Art Ljubljana,
23 June - 24 September 2000
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Ian Kiaer
  *1971, lives in London

Breughel Project / Casa Malaparte, 1999, installation

Ian Kiaer's work for Manifesta 3 has very complex sources, Brueghel and Curzio Malaparte and their respective relationships to the Italian landscape. In 1552 Pieter Brueghel journeyed across the Alps to Rome and then on to Sicily. His View of the Bay of Naples suggests that he passed through the part of Italy where Curzio Malaparte was to be exiled by Mussolini a few centuries later, in 1933. The rocky outcroppings of those Mediterranean shores appear in his subsequent paintings, Christ at the Lake of Tiberias and The Fall of Icarus. Along the journey Brueghel made remarkably detailed topographical drawings of the landscape. These were often of hills and mountains, built up with short marks and dots, where he snugly fitted villages or solitary buildings into distant crags. Malaparte made use of his two and a half years of exile by immersing himself in the reading of Homer's poetry, Greek classics, and Italian lyric poetry. As with Brueghel's travels, his isolation was a defining period, far from the political and social attention which he had enjoyed. It was his exile in Ischia, an island close to Capri, which gave him the idea of building a retreat. Inspired by his environment and recent reading, he set about trying to acquire a piece of land as soon as his confinement ended. In 1938 work began in collaboration with the architect Adalberto Libera on a rocky promontory above the Tyrrhenian Sea. In 1564 Brueghel painted The Procession to Calvary. A semi-circular procession makes its way towards Golgotha. Christ is central to the composition, yet is almost lost in the crowd. In the background stands an improbable rock with a windmill perched atop. It is a makeshift, vernacular building whose function is obvious, yet its architect/painter has designed it with utmost care. Its windows, though small, give controlled glimpses of the epic panorama below.

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