Piero Zanini: The Indispensable Strait

War & Peace

On 17 October we went to Dunkerque for the fourth part of Nicolette Picheral’s Entre Phare et Shaft/Between Beacon and Shaft to hear  architect and anthropologist Piero Zanini talk about the metaphorical significance of the figure of the Strait. The talk took place in Dunkerque’s Musee Portuaire and was part of Dunkerque 2013.

“The strait is both geographically real and “socially” unreal, because many of our fellow citizens don’t see it. Or if they do see it, they do not consider it as a shared space, but rather as a limit.” (Bruno Cooren)

Extract from Clare’s blog:

Zanini talked about the Indispensable Strait, which is the name of an actual waterway, but he was also talking about how we need the figure of the strait as metaphor (from Greek meaning carry across and in modern-day Greece buses might have metaphora embossed on their sides), explorers of North America looked for a strait that wasn’t there, convinced that it had to be there: a strait is something that makes the other side seem far away, despite being near; crossing it requires rituals; to build the island of Utopia, a strait had to be created (Thomas More); the strait, between two shores, contains immense potential/possibilities; it is a figure of our anxieties … 

Zanini’s talk was the latest in an amazing cycle of events that started with Bruno Coorren’s introduction of DAD to Nicolette Picheral.

The conversation touched on possibilities for developing the many layers that are making their way to the surface and consciousness from this project. It continued until around midnight in a restaurant serving specialities from the French Antilles – an appropriate choice of venue, given the topic.

Earlier in the day we returned to the beautiful and moving Retours de mer exhibition at the Musee de Beaux Arts, which includes work by many contemporary artists, including stunning work by Enrique Ramirez, and is built with reference to the horizon in Gustave Courbet’s La Vague (The Wave). The exhibition was curated by Jean Attali.

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