right before Infinity

Right before “Infinity” (the way we called the meeting), MC and I were immersed for weeks and weeks in discussions and preparing our lectures. It is a rare occasion, being both of us invited as speakers in the same event. Also, for both of us – I would say, for all speakers of this event – it was a truly demanding task, in a way that is difficult to describe. How do you speak for a crowd of people that includes amazing mathematicians (Woodin, Steel among them), great art historians and philosophers? How do you say something at the same time as devoid as possible of local lingo, local to your little domain, and interesting? With the subject of the meeting, On the Infinite, of course, there were many possibilities.

We ended up waking up many times in the middle of the night, of many nights for weeks and weeks whispering  you know I’ve been thinking now of starting with the body and … /  … oh I was thinking of the corporeal too … / … but no, really it’s about the boundary between the undefinable and the defined … / oh, but not that way … and falling asleep again. Then breakfast with infinity, then in the middle of a discussion with one of my colleagues about abstract compactness and amalgamation in infinitary logics, surprising myself using a sentence that was also from the other conversation… then Lygia Clark and Poincaré, Leibniz and Florensky… and the need to trim it all…

The week-end before we revisited the Rodin Museum, where a Kiefer exhibition (homage to Rodin’s Cathédrales de France) was being shown. Somehow I feel the works we saw encapsule the atmosphere of our conversations for weeks on end before the meeting.

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y mucho, mucho más (pero después). Rodin es infinito. Kiefer hace un buen homenaje, pero se queda de verdad corto frente a la grandeza de Rodin. Désolé, Maître Kiefer.

Varus 1976, Anselm Kiefer.

I would like to see Sophie Fiennes’s Over your cities grass will grow, her movie on Anselm Kiefer.

Somehow the movie itself seems to sip in the general mood of contemplation of destruction that pervades Kiefer’s works. According to The New York Review of Books, The camera merely takes in, accompanied by astringent music by György Ligeti and Jörg Widmann, the world of ruination that Kiefer has been creating in various buildings, set in fields and forests, in Barjac, in southern France, where he has lived since 1992.

Kiefer’s work was brought to my attention by a lecture Fernando Zalamea gave in Bogotá, before 2007. We then saw with MC an enormous collection of Kiefer’s works (installations, mostly) in Berlin and over the years have had the chance to reencounter several times his work.

I must say that I find his paintings more abstract, less immediate, more challenging than his installations. The installations, in their materiality, seem to “give away” abstraction, seem to give away the game. The paintings, strewn across huge canvasses, with crevices and chunks of paint, with their almost monochromatic hue, work almost like a magnet to me. I am attracted to them, have a hard time leaving them, want to plunge in them.