The Oracle, Venice Lido and Island of San Servolo, Venice, Italy – 2014
There is something deeply flawed yet inherently human about the struggle to keep pace with technologies developed to enhance lives. People are eagerly and enthusiastically over connected. The sheer amount of words and images might give the illusion of barriers being breached and distances shortened, but it’s the struggle to process the constant stream of information that shapes our days.
The fast pace does not embolden us, rather leaves us feeling inadequate. The heartache of the future is the doubt of the past: people scamper, but do not move on. The same old worries about love, health, friends and family are undermining this false progress, searching for answers to questions that a bloated and superficial knowledge has failed to address.
Drawing inspiration from ancient Greece, the Oracle is possibly an homage to Dodona or the Pythia at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. It relies on the willing suspension of disbelief and poetic faith of a viewer hoping to quash any uncertainty about the future.
First exhibited on the island of San Servolo in the Venetian Lagoon, the installation comprises a number of suspended sculptures – the Oracle – together with a set of wheels and a platform. The latter is connected to the arms of the Oracle with copper wires, so that any time a spectator stands on it, a connection of sorts is made to this sage. The wheels are inscribed with a list of possible questions and answers and can be spun to obtain the Oracle’s response to any query. Their movement mimics the randomness of life and mirrors what some might call fate.
In the words of the artist, the interaction with the sculpture highlights the easy transit from rationality to faith to superstition, but also the distorted belief that mankind cannot influence or determine its future.
The frame of the installation is 5m high, 2.5m wide and 2.5m deep. The Oracle is 3.5m high, 1m wide and 1m deep. It is formed by a male bust, approximatively 100 arms and ocular bulbs. The platform is fixed about 2.50m away from the main frame, but it is connected to the main sculpture with copper wiring.
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE ORACLE |Written in Italian by Ilaria Datta – Translated by Chris Jordan|
The inspiration for this work of art might seem to be the Oracle at Delphi, which is at the centre of the tragedy of Oedipus. The focus of this piece is not the oracle itself, but the platform where a person waits for questions to be answered.
A visitor has to wait until the mechanism is set in motion. The wait is variable and can last up to three minutes. This is a reference to another myth: the story of Telemachus and Penelope patiently waiting for Ulysses’ return.
In times of uncertainty, it reflects on the present using references to Greek mythology with a modern twist. Stop, listen to the questions coming from your inner self and wait for the wisdom to surface from deep within. On the platform one is alone with oneself, the oracle is just an excuse, what really matters is the wait.
The myth of Oedipus, which begins with Laius consulting the oracle, ends with Oedipus being blinded, which helps him rediscover his true nature. The story of Ulysses ends with a reunion, which is the reward for patience.
This installation requires the visitor to step onto the platform with the body of a young Oedipus, with the patient nature of Penelope and with the gaze of Telemachus looking towards the sea.