Monday, March 20, 2017

The World Begins With Every Kiss

In this post I will simply present a piece of public art here in Barcelona that I like quite a lot. It shares elements of street art to the degree that it could actually be mistaken for a large piece of graffiti. However, on closer inspection, it's clear that this piece is actually Public Art, done with the cooperation of the Ayuntamiento, or city government.

This is my picture of it. The web is full of other pictures, some of which might even be better than mine (although I seriously doubt it ;) )

The piece, which is called "The World Begins With Every Kiss," is by an artist called Joan Fontcuberta, and is a mosaic made up of images of everyday life, submitted by Barcelona residents, which are printed onto ceramic tiles.

First, here's what I thought about the piece before reading anything about it.

Clearly, these tiles show images of joy and love and life. And the larger assembled image is one of great tenderness, or even erotic passion. My first thoughts were basically that kissing can lead to openness, love, passion, and sometimes even children. The connection between two people, therefore, is the source of all life, and all the wonder and connection and experience of life. 

The logic of the interpretation gets a bit of a challenge, however, from the fact that the gender of the figure on the right is not entirely clear; it could be a man or a woman. If it's a woman, then clearly there are no children in the imminent future of this scene. However, rather than undercut the meaning of the image, I think it only adds another important layer. Passion is passion; some of it might lead to children and thereby help to perpetuate this great human experiment, and some of it might do nothing more than enrich the lives of those experiencing it, whether they be gay or straight. 

Well after having these thoughts I figured I ought to read up on the piece to see if perhaps the artist actually meant something completely different. It turns out that the explanations offered by the artist revolve around the idea of freedom, and do not explicitly discuss love or passion. 

This page offers lots of great information about the piece, including this quote offered up by the then-mayor, Xavier Trias:

“this is an extraordinary metaphor for love, of what this country aims to be: a country open to everyone, where everyone champions their freedoms and rights and yet is ready to perform a collective act of love and sacrifice for others”.

Well, that's a message worth fighting for, in my opinion. I don't veer off into politics much in this blog, but it's hard not to at this point... Can you imagine a piece of art such as this getting funding support, or any other kind of official support, in Trump's America? Of course it is not fair to compare an entire country (USA) to one city (Barcelona), but I'm trying to make a point. Trump is talking about completely eliminating funding the the NEA, as well as the CPB and the NEH. It's crazy, and a sad time for America. 

Thank you, Barcelona, for hosting and supporting this great piece of art.

Side note: I have made minor edits to my two last posts. In the Jassans post, I added a few sentences near the end of the paragraph which begins "Again, arms up, a triumphant figure", and in the Metro post I added an image showing the turnstiles, by way of visually setting the scene.

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