the european biennial of contemporary art
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Javier Tellez

1969, Valencia, VELives in New York, US

Perfetta letizia, 2008 HD Video, 20’



“On a beam, which supports the ceiling of Brecht’s study room, are painted the words: ‘Truth is concrete.’ On a windowsill stands a small wooden donkey that can nod his head. Brecht has hung a little sign round its neck on which he has written: ‘Even I must understand it’.”
Walter Benjamin, 24 July 1934
Working between fiction and nonfiction, Javier Tellez shatters the sociocultural barriers to which we have been accustomed, by creating what he calls “a cinematographic passport” aimed at letting the less-seen people in our society emerge. At Manifesta 7 he introduces his new video, shot inside the Franciscan library of Saint Bernardino in Trento. It is here that the artist led several animals – a lamb, a wolf, a donkey, and some predatory birds – that “assisted” at the readings of the friars of the convent. The chosen texts for the particular meeting have been taken from the Actus beati Francisci et sociorum eius, better known as the Little Flowers of Saint Francis, probably written by Ugolino da Montegiorgio between 1370 and 1390. The title indicates the choice of “little flowers,” 53 texts seen as meaningful for the life of the saint and of his first companions. Among these, many narrate the extraordinary capacity of Francis to talk to the animals. “As St. Francis was thus speaking these words, all those birds started to open their beaks and stretch out their necks and reverently incline their heads all the way to the ground, and with acts and songs demonstrate that the Holy Father was pleasing them immensely. And with them St. Francis rejoiced and was delighted […] and for that reason in them he devoutly praised the Creator.” The video ideally recreates the moments of communion between the saint, nature and all “its creatures.”



ANSELM FRANKE/HILA PELEG: "THE SOUL (or, Much Trouble in the Transportation of Souls)"