What remains the poets provide
The Northeaster blows,
Among all the winds the one
I love the best, because it portends
A fiery spirit and a good journey to sailors.
But now I go and greet
The beautiful Garonne,
And the gardens of Bordeaux
There, where upon the steep bank
The path leads, and the brook falls far down
Into the river, but from above,
A noble pair of oaks and
Silvery poplars gaze on this scene.
I still think of this fondly, and of how
The forest of elms inclines
Its broad tree-tops over the mill,
In the yard, however, a fig tree grows.
On the feast days
The brown women walk there
Upon the silky earth,
When night and day are equal,
And over slow pathways,
Heavy with golden dreams,
Lulling breezes pass.
But may someone hand me,
Full of the dark light,
One of the scented goblets,
That I may rest, for though sweet would be
Slumber beneath the shadows,
It is not good
To be soulless of mortal
Thoughts. But a conversation
Is good and to speak
The heart’s meaning, to hear much
Of the days of love,
And of deeds that took place.
But where are my friends? Bellarmin
With his companions? Many a one
Is burdened with dread to approach the well-spring;
Riches, namely, begin
In the ocean. They,
Like painters, gather together
What is beautiful upon earth and do not
Disdain the winged war, and do not disdain
To live solitary for years under
The leafless mast, where the night is not made sparkling
By the feast-days of the city,
And by the music of strings and by native dances.
But now to the Indies
The men have gone;
There upon the breezy peak
Along vine-clad mountains, where downward
The Dordogne approaches
And together with the splendid
Garonne, the combined waters
Flow out wide as the sea. But the ocean
Takes and gives memory,
And love, too, assiduously captures one’s eyes,
What remains, however, the poets provide.
Friedrich Hölderlin 1803
What remains the poets provide marks introduction to the curatorial practice of Michal Martychowiec. This very first cycle of exhibitions is utilising several of the artist’s works to create a specific narrative following cultural history in 19th and 20th centuries. The Hölderlin’s poem from which the cycle appropriates its title is meant to function both as an introduction to and part of the curatorial statement.
Each of the three cycles leads to specific points in history and so: What remains the poets provide represents Romanticism and reestablishes certain aspects abandoned in the modern discourse, Tears of Iblis deals directly with the discourse of modernity and destruction of the Icon, and Journey to the West establishes a complex system within the artistic practice of Martychowiec – of mythological creation and of symbolic instances.
Tears of Iblis creates a somewhat conceptual centre as it directly deals with the concept of destruction in the modernist tradition. As such, the first cycle’s role is to reintroduce certain concepts, so that they can be utilised later on between the Tears of Iblis and Journey to the West.
Hölderlin’s poem is important here, because it brings up several matters which disappeared from the later discourse and which the last person to investigate in terms of contemporary significance was Heidegger: ‘[Hölderlin] has pre-established the misery – that has a renewed beginning – of our historical There-being, so that we could wait for it.’.
The matter of destruction, central to Tears of Iblis is brought by Walter Benjamin in his Critique of violence (1913-1926), or to be specific the concept of divine violence which has abruptly changed in the new materialist context. As Malevich claimed ‘The image that survives the work of destruction is the image of destruction’. In this perspective, further works of Martychowiec are designed to destroy ‘the image of destruction’ by reestablishing mythical and symbolic frameworks and thus resurrecting the divine destruction.
In his poem, Hölderlin establishes what is the essence of art and artistic creation. He writes ‘what remains, however, the poets provide’ – this throws the light at the essence of poetry. Poetry is founded by the word and in the word, and what is established in this way is – what remains. The poet names the gods and all things with respect to what they are and thus they come into being. Hölderlin functions as a ‘hero’ who stands at the threshold of a new era, and it is thus, that he can return the classical connection between the artist and the sacred. This introductory cycle of exhibitions reestablishes this framework, from which perspective the works in the Tears of Iblis can be considered.
Michal Martychowiec, 2016