Luigi Presicce: The Veil of Veronica

February, 06 - 28 2018

The Veil of Veronica, or mandylion in Syrian, is an unprecedented performance, specifically designed for the structure hosting it: the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City. The simulacrum of the Virgin of Guadeloupe falls into the age-old tradition of images that have either come into existence miraculously or have been imprinted (acheiropoieta) and, perhaps, it is also the most recent sacred icon to have appeared "without the aid a human hand." The painting, which is still kept in the Basilica dedicated to the Virgin of the same name in Tepeyac, a small hill nearby Mexico City, where the miracle of its appearance allegedly took place. One day in December of 1531, on the hilltop of Tepeyac, the Virgin appeared before the farmer Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. The Virgin asked the farmer to go and find the bishop, and to ask him on her behalf to build a small church where the apparition took place. Juan Diego obeyed, but the bishop, Juan de Zumárraga, did not believe the farmer's story. The apparitions occurred time and time again, but the bishop wanted to see tangible proof, hence the Virgin told Juan Diego to go pick some flowers from the Tepeyac hill and bring them to the bishop. And so he did. Despite it being winter, Juan Diego was able to pick the roses and, once he met up with the bishop, he unwrapped his mantle, however, when the roses touched the ground, the two saw the image of a dark-haired Virgin Mary with mixed features appear beneath them.
This story, just like the one of The Veil of Veronica, is not written in Gospel, and there is no tangible evidence proving that it was indeed a miracle, however, as all other unexplainable occurrences of Christian history, these too are worthy of devotion. We can find the story of The Veil of Veronica in the Golden Legend by Jacopo da Varazze, a very popular reading during the 13th century, the credibility of which was so high that it was able to turn the miracle in one of the stations of the Via Crucis. The station depicts the moment in which a woman offers a veil to wipe the face of Christ in the moment in which he falls under the weight of the wooden cross on the way to Calvary. At this point, the miracle takes place, and the face of Christ, torn apart by sweat and blood, is imprinted onto the veil of the woman named Veronica. There have been many theories regarding the origin of her name, on how it may have Greek or Latin roots, or even mixed ones, as a play on the words "vera icona" (true icon), while others suggest that the name may derive from Berenice, from ancient Greek, hence "which brings victory." This leads us to think about the symbolic aspect of the face of Christ, just like the cross that appeared in Constantine's dreams before the battle with Maxentius "in hoc signo vinces."
Faith or not, the images of the face of Christ that have miraculously appeared remain a controversial matter, just like the Manoppello Image, or the famous Shroud of Turin, which was saved (miraculously, once again) from the flames of a great fire.
There is also talk of holy imprints in the case of the stigmata received by Saint Francis of Assisi on the mountain of La Verna, and of the most recent stigmata of Padre Pio of Pietralcina. Similar fervor was raised by the case of Natuzza Evolo, where a humble housekeeper from the Calabrian province began an intense dialogue with Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the deceased, and during Easter time she received both a stigmata and hematic effusions portraying Christ's holy face. If these examples did not require a human hand to imprint the face of Christ or of the Virgin Mary, there are plenty more in art history that depict Veronica and, still today, several artists have used the imprinting of the face or of the body as a pure pictorial form. For example Yves Klein, with his anthropometries and "panoramic" self-portraits by Kiki Smith.
The performance aims to reenact a scene from the Via Crucis, where the face of the artist is impressed onto paper by applying pressure. Just as a press for mechanical print, a figure manipulates the face of the artist with a damp sheet of paper, which absorbs the colors that had been placed on the artist's face. Just like a panoramic portrait or a Rorschach's inkblot, the imprinted papers will portray the face of the demiurge, or the artist that interprets god, creator of the world.

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Piazza Carlo Goldoni 2
50123 | Firenze | Italy
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The Gallery will remain closed for set-up reasons until 29 June 2019


Eduardo Secci Contemporary s.r.l soc. unip.
Cap. Soc. IV 1.000.000,00 €
IT C. F. P.IVA N. ISCR. REG. IMP. FI 06421100485
Sede Legale Piazza Carlo Goldoni 2
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