“There is a game of puzzles,” he resumed, “which is played upon a map. One party playing requires another to find a given word —the name of town, river, state or empire —any word, in short, upon the motley and perplexed surface of the chart. A novice in the game generally seeks to embarrass his opponents by giving them the most minutely lettered names; but the adept selects such words as stretch, in large characters, from one end of the chart to the other. These, like the over-largely lettered signs and placards of the street, escape observation by dint of being excessively obvious; and here the physical oversight is precisely analogous with the moral inapprehension by which the intellect suffers to pass unnoticed those considerations which are too obtrusively and too palpably self-evident.”, The Purloined Letter, E.A. Poe
Wunderkammer presents a game of puzzles on a map, in which images and words from a map project themselves in the streets with a skillful move and transform the game in an intellectual reflection.
The exhibition presents this thought with a temporary move to a highly symbolically meaningful place, a site of social rituality linked to different worships and to political changes which have modified the map and the collective imaginaries of the city.
Our operation names something evident which spreads all over the city map and suggests a reading of it based on the museum collection, composed of heterogeneous urban finds, which are able to represent the things we want to focus on. The selected samples which can be found in the exhibition hide controversial stories, “minor” ones, of which the presence itself in the city constitutes a question mark about their presumedly official narration.
This ambiguity is what artists represent in their works, showing the propagandistic machine of power: the reinterpretation of theatre instruments, the origins of lighting, the proscribed liturgical music after the Concilium Vaticanum II, the contemporary composition as evoking thick stratifications of imaginaries, the shared rituality of consume, poisoned food made eatable by the productive process.
In the game of puzzles what risks to be unnoticed, the self-evident consideration, is that this place represents the absolute supremacy of imaginaries given by the power, underlines their stratification, just like a palimpsest from which the original text keeps on emerging. Its rooms are built on an irrigation ditch and on the city synagogue. The first room was a catholic chapel, one of the three stations of a devotional path which has been walked for hundreds of years by the pilgrims until its desecration and, lately, its transformation into an antiquity shop.
Unseen, the building is now empty and unused, frozen in a in awkward state, hanging between not being valuable anymore and not being valuable yet. The city stands between the naturalia and the artificialia more than any other art work, because the shape of the city is an endless sum of different experiences belonging to those who use a place, thus regarding all those things which can be actually learned only by experiencing a determinate urban fact. The notion of urban fact itself depends on the knowledge of those who experience it, is a material construction and, at the same time, something else.
This invisible “something else” which takes part to the construction is now in a vanishing point on the big table of representation, in a cartography made of rhetorical and persuasive social images which transport places and combine them. The subject stands unmoving in front of the exhibition of the facts regarding the city center, listed and described in a dictionary fashion; the predaceous eye prevents him or her from touching, from the direct and immediate experience of things. The power, knowing that there is no better way to get rid of the past, transforms history and monuments not in culture, but in touristic images, exploiting self-evidence on the map. Art is always everywhere in the city, but the point is how to use it. Consume, which is at the basis of the capitalistic society,is the only real possibility of building a relationship with objects which contain their own impossibility of being used.
Everything becomes virtually possible in a city free from wizards, because the value of the exhibition when disconnected from use is total, and leaves no place for further interpretation. Recognizing the non controllability of urban space means doing what people in the past did by sanctifying a place, creating orders which are able to create heresy.
By representing and challenging at the same time, the museum touches an emblematic place in the centre of Trento and makes it temporarily public, without suggesting any productive conversion of it. The capitalistic cult, which cannot experiment apostasy, can’t do anything but “what is perhaps the most desperate experience that one can have: the irrevocable loss of all use, the absolute impossibility of profaning”Agamben, Profanations.
Wunderkammer Trento offers the city its first exhibition. For the first time Wunderkammer opens its rooms through an action which wants to give back to the city some of its sites, and does so in a frame which is usually off-limits for the public, the Simonino Chapel. The Salvadori Chapel was once the synagogue of Trento. According to the legend, Simone, a child who was born in that neighborhood, had been mysteriously kidnapped, tortured and killed by someone belonging to the jew community of Trento. Easter 1475. For centuries jews in Europe had been accused of “ritual homicide”and antisemitism soon enters the city of Trento too, where the prince-bishop himself, Giovanni Hinderbach, becomes one of the major supporters of this charge. Once some members of the trentine community confessed, he firmly demanded the sanctification of the child. However, the worship of San Simonino enters the martyrology and in 1588 the 24th of March was established as the date to celebrate this particular saint. The cult will be then abrogated in 1965, when the fathers of the Concilium Vaticanum II revoked every accusation of homicide against the Jew community and forbade every form of antisemitism. Meanwhile, the ancient synagogue became the San Simonino chapel. In 1967 the Italian Rabbinic Council revoked from the city of Trento the herem ha-qahal, that is the oral excommunication which was imposed upon the city in the years of Simone homicide.