This week, I encountered the work of a Romanian artist Mircea Cantor at the Castello di Rivoli. His video called Sic Transit Gloria Mundi is a powerful work that represents a ceremonial ritual using images of composed bodies in relation to the camera. Hailed bodies offer their hands into a circle where we as the spectators witness the line of fire travel slowly across each hand.
Sic transit gloria mundi is a Latin phrase that means “thus passes the glory of the world”. It has been interpreted as “Worldly things are feeling”. The phrase was used in the ritual of papal coronation ceremonies between 1409, when it was used at the coronation of Alexander V, and 1963. As the newly chosen pope proceeded from the sacristy of St. Peter’s Basilica in his sedia gestatoria, the procession stopped three times. On each occasion a papal master of ceremonies would fall to his knees before the pope, holding a silver or brass reed, bearing a tow of smoldering flax. For three times in succession, as the cloth burned away, he would say in a loud and mournful voice, “Sancte Pater, sic transit gloria mundi!” (“Holy Father, so passes worldly glory!”) These words, thus addressed to the pope, served as a reminder of the transitory nature of life and earthly honors. The stafflike instrument used in the aforementioned ceremony is known as a “sic transit gloria mundi”, named for the master of ceremonies’ words.
“Colors fill up your mind too much with all sorts of muddled stuff. Colors are too sweet a muddle, nothing more. I love things in one color, monotonous things. Snow is such a monotonous song. Why shouldn’t a color be able to make the same impression as singing? White is like a murmuring, whispering, praying. Fiery colors, like for instance Autumn colors, are a shriek. Green in midsummer is a many-voiced song with all the highest notes. Is that true? I don’t know if that is right.“ Robert Walser
Robert Walser (15 April 1878 – 25 December 1956), was a German-speaking Swiss writer. Walser is understood to be the missing link between Kleist and Kafka. Walser was admired early on by artists such as Robert Musil, Hermann Hesse, Stefan Zweig,Walter Benjamin and Franz Kafka.
On Christmas Day, 1956, the police of the town of Herisau in eastern Switzerland were called out: children had stumbled upon the body of a man, frozen to death, in a snowy field. Arriving at the scene, the police took photographs and had the body removed.
The dead man was easily identified: Robert Walser, aged seventy-eight, missing from a local mental hospital. In his earlier years Walser had won something of a reputation, in Switzerland and even in Germany, as a writer. Some of his books were still in print; there had even been a biography of him published. During a quarter of a century in mental institutions, however, his own writing had dried up. Long country walks—like the one on which he had died—had been his main recreation.