Arturo Desimone, Aruba/ Netherlands – Visual Arts and Installations/Drawings
“Drawings can be like poems, rather than paintings or conceptual installations (these I compare more to screenplays or novels.) A big drawing, even if contemplated in public by a crowd of people as if it were cinema or a mural, is still a big poem, with a larger audience that is perhaps the ideal audience for a poem. I keep making the reference to poetry, not because poetry is to be exalted or mystified (though poetry does, on occasion, actively exalt and mystify). My way of drawing is an intuitive process of taking, from a symbol harvest, symbols that emerge in me while working in the same manner as a poet sits to write (provided the poets’ main materials are a circumstance of sufficient silence or freedom.)
The characters, symbols, bestiary‐beasts, in the drawings are not from any pre-established symbol-dictionary, perhaps more a personal demonology, though there are of course universal religious symbols in conflict with one another. Though there are many political elements in my drawings, I do not sit with any pre–‐determined political statement in mind (my politics in my drawings have rather surprised me.) I am constantly reflecting and experiencing politics and it inevitably becomes part of my artistic expression.
The drawings exist in an interrelation with my poetry. I also am a writer and write literary works, painting with language as all poets do. Many poets of recent memory also made drawings, some important examples would be Federico Garcia Lorca; Miguel Angel Bustos (an Argentinian poet of the 1970s); Franz Kafka’s logogram drawings, Bruno Schulz, Victor Hugo and others. These writers, however, decisively halted any further development of their drawing. I want to be the poet who takes the drawing further than other poets who drew, combining this work with text.
Though I have often preferred the archaic to the contemporary, I do find a point of resonance with contemporary art in how the contemporary artist usually reaches outside of his predetermined field or specialty, shamelessly risking a wobbliness of craft, in order to achieve another kind of creation or goal that can be read without as much emphasis on specialization or on craft itself.”
The combined leitmotifs of ”Ritual Revolution” allow a rich range of possibilities. Much of my work often relates to ritual and to revolution.
I write poetry and essays, next to to being a visual artist (drawings, to be specific). Poetry from its ‘since before it became a written form, had to do with the role of language as invocation, therefore poetry rapidly finds a place in ritual contexts. Somehow, I resisted the urge to bring drawings I already made to Gorna Lipnitsa.
Recently I had read an essay on the internet about the long and odd history of humans taking animals to court. The essay ”Let Us Now Praise Infamous Animals” by American animal rights activist Jeffrey St-Clair, (editor of the American political zine CounterPunch) The activist cites longer works, on the history of animals put on trial since the end of the 15th century until now. (For example, a group of monks in colonial Brazil litigated against a termite colony for destroying the wood of the monastery. The monastery lost against the arguments made by the defendants’ pro bono lawyer, who defended the nature of termites following their destiny. St Clair argues that the fuedal tendency to take animals to court, can be interpreted as attributing to animals the power to decide between good and evil, and attributes them more rights, assuming they are conscious. The activist claims everything went downhill after René Descartes, the Liberal philosopher who said that only the people who appear to have full rational capicities also exist (cogito ergo sum) and ergo earn ”rights.” Descartes argued that if we only understood this, we would be able to listen to the sound of a puppy dog whimpering while a carpenter hammered a nail into its paw and remain coolly indifferent as if the whimpering of the animal were ”no different than the ticking of a clock.”
I tried to ask around if anyone know of such stories in Bulgarian legal history, but came up short, though I heard interesting anecdotes about oppression and absurdity during the time of the Jivkov dictatorship followed by the financial crisis of the 1990s, but could not pin down cases of animal-courthouse interexperience. The courthouse and trial since Roman times have changed relatively little (togas have changed more!) and are, of course, places of performance and ceremonial rites.
TITLES AND ”NARRATIVE CONTEXT” OF EACH DRAWING:
1. The Peacock Put on Trial For Its Vanity.
European A2 size paper with color pencil
2. ”Rín-Rín shows contempt of court by sabotaging the hearing of the owl put on trial for having wept” is the first drawing I made on white paper in the Old School. The owl stands trial before the court justice. On the right, the media people fill their pulpit, including a sound-man. On the left, there sits the judge in his wheel-chair, while a Prosecutor (with the blonde hair and green coat) holds up a picture of evidence proving the owl wept. Owls are not supposed to weep.
Rín Rín is recurring in drawings I began in 2016 while observing the crepescular advent of populism versus liberal elitism and a new political chaos unfolding upon the globe. Rín Rín, an impetulant young rhino can often be observed in a chaotic, Pan-like or Dyonisian state, often attracted to crowds, creating mischief, he is much maligned, more than once associated with arson. Rín Rín often seems to appear where crowds form, yet he stands out, not necessarily against the mobs. It is unclear what he is for or against, whether he is a populist or anti-populist, a vain mocker, or Robin Hood or a Fascist. Regardless of whether the response be positive or negative, most who come into contact with Rín Rín in crowded places come away with an extreme reaction.
3. The drawing using mixed media on green carton is Who Wants to Be the Ursa Majoris?
NASA astronomers host a contest. Ursa Majoris, the constellation known since antiquity as the Great Bear by Graeco-Roman and Semitic cultures (Ursus, male bear, Ursa, female) was renamed after the kitchen pot ”The Big Dipper” by modern astronomers, because these later, less myth-minded stargazers observed a different, more domestic shape in that part of the sky. ”the big dipper” however keeps its Latin name, Ursa Majoris. The scientists are appointed as the panel jury in a heavily subsidized contest, a talent show in which bears can compete to be called ”Ursa Majoris” or the bigshot/important bear and will be rewarded with a special cabin and other benefits and status. Bears with talent compete across all international and cultural divisions, bringing polar bear side by side with grizzly and East-Central European bears. Apparently, the answer to ”Who Wants to be Ursus/Ursa Major?” is a resounding ”Everybody”.
 Such as E. P. Evans’ The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals, (1906) ”humans and animals were frequently tried together in the same courtroom as co-conspirators, especially in cases of bestiality. The animal defendants were appointed their own lawyers at public expense. Animals enjoyed appeal rights and there are several instances when convictions were overturned and sentences reduced or commuted entirely. ”
A GRAND BUTCHER’S PROMISE
Of Bulgaria, the experts say
Thrace once stood here, in the South,
Farmers found bits of Hera’s once-smoldering blouse,
and wiped their brows;
Lobster-red beads of her ship’s-length Olympian necklaces
that she flung cursing at the slut Cassiopea
turned up under the purple flowers of potato fields in bloom,
Where a punk girl gathered them
propping them into a beer bottle
to bring her lover his poor man’s hibiscus…
And that brings us to Spartacus:
a Thracean slave, a true-blood Bulgarian!
Spartako prayed to Heracles more than to any godhead,
under the Lind tree
ReQuesting sainted H. to lend him the intelligence and coldness
That helped Heracles butcher the Nimean lion.
Spartacus needed bring that verysame mastery into the ring
In Roma, where he performed for the first Cosa Nostra and their
women like a sea of petite Heras, velinhas, Roman sports-fans,
with all the access to abortion that money, Dinari can buy.
Musculature to dust,
butcher’s body expelled to bright wind,
The Nimean lion’s remains reappeared
on a mountain,
far from its original African lair,
Left on a coathanger Heracles made long ago
of eagle-bones glued well with tar.
Heracles had wandered there, it took him centuries to die,
more than he had ever hoped, in the mountainous asylum
Because the mountaineers mistook him for a Byzantine hermit,
the Janissaries spared him under the shade of the Lipa tree
Since hermits who dwell amongst the rocks
earned the right to daylit nudity in solitude
But when the Janissaries, with scimitar knives out
like urinating pricks, caught Heracles
doing a pagan activity–
Drawing poems like Orenda on the stone,
in the blood of fallen hawks lured
By the grayed Nimean lion’s old garment,
The lie was up. They gave him 1 quarter-solar-year to convert
to Christiani Orthodoxy, to join them
in the battles abroad. ”But I’m retired” he said,
instead of ”it’s not my cause.”
With the looks of a Hellene strongman,
in great shape for his age, nobody
Would have believed retired Heracles a day older than Spartacus,
let alone Christ,
For Whom they requested his participation in the fight against Sultans
The Janissaries left him to contemplate whether he would serve them
on white horses taken from the Huns’ best-bred.
In his dying, Heracles’ hung his own ribcage
Upon a lind tree in bloom,
where swallows congress before they dart to Africa
Soon as they feel winter’s hem
begin to break the warm.
A rich old cougar lady fond of city night-life and karaoke bars
would kill today just to possess such a crucial garment as that
of the Nimean,
Much to the displeasure of animal rights activists.
Such parade would win the coldest glimmer
in the knowing and silvery eyes of the Nimean lioness,
who everybody save for a few had forgotten.
The Nimean lioness
Longs to tell her murdered husband’s story to the court redacter
and to the team of memoir ghost-writers serving an African dictator
Of the country with a name that rhymes with Nimea. The dictator
also wears a lion-hide robe, fond of comparison and compassion.
But just then, as the Lioness finally got to tell her story to an audience,
the sympathetic ear of black stone
fell and broke
At the dawn-crack foghorn of usurpation,
By Neo-Liberal Democracy’s installment, aided by the Central Intelligency Community (formerly CIA, the Agency)
Rushing regime-change and developmental aid
In an African country that was once
as the lion’s Nimea, proud, wearing a name
that echoes Nimea, like the lioness who echoed
Despite that lions’ heads
Have only 1 neckbone under their mane,
preventing them from ever looking back,
Even at a good-looking passing lioness!
Heracles had promised the lioness
Her husband’s skin, though butchered by him,
Should never go on Auction on the market for art
like a Van Gogh, poor man who made many
of his necromancer-butchers rich,
(even after what the Dutch did to him, making him sick)
As for mama Hera’s whoredoms,
the auction-masters lack the patience
for soap-operatics, for passions,
like the Olympics, all such
by Arturo Desimone, Gorna Lipnitsa – Bulgaria, 2018