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Adequatio Artis et Torturae – Towards Marcello Mercados Capital




Adequatio Artis et Torturae – Towards Marcello Mercados Capital

By Nils Röller 06/ 08/ 2001



Primo Levi spoke once about the shame to be a human being. The shame to be a human being did grow within him after having survived the holocaust. Levi wrote that the shame to have been tortured, to have been treated in a way that cannot be seen in parallels to other treatments, did grow in himself after the liberation of the concentration camps. This is one factor that helps to see Marcello Mercados work «The Capital”. The videofilm is a work in progress since years, it is finding now its shape. The actual state is 70 minutes long. Most time the capital is formed by moving abstract colours and an overhelming soundscape.
The film is not all the time abstract.
This has to do with the second factor: Of colourmaking and of abstraction. The color Fra Angelico became famous for – the Fra Angelico blue – goes back to lapizlazuli stones. Very expensive stones and a very long and precious way were necessary to produce colour from these stones. Marcello Mercados colours go back to Super 8 films: films of tortured persons in Argentina. It is found footage material that someone gave to him. Mercados colour productions starts from these images. He shows this basic images at the end of the film.
At the end of the film one starts to feel shame, shame to have liked colours and forms that have been abstracted from yellow, blue, deformated, burned bones and organs.
Marcellos work challenges an old definition of what is true or not.
True is when mental concepts are adequate to the things they represent.
Three questions do arise immediatley: What is a mental concept? What is an adequate representation? And what are things?
Stefan Zweig discusses aspects of this questions in the context of the theory of novel. Zweig argues that Dostojewskis novels are beautiful because they are truly lived through: The writer Dostojewski did live through all the cruelties and tortures he is writing about.
This enabeld him in the interpetation of Zweig to represent Russia in a true that is adequat form. Zweig argumentation assumes that art is overhelming when an adequation between the representing artists and the represented reality is taking place. This is highly problematic. At minimum in two regards: First because Dostojewski did need a central idea (in his case: the idea of the becoming moral superiority of russia) in order to maintain and persue the construction of his novels, second because the adeqution is a relativ criterion. At the same time, but in a different geophilosphical context the definition of adequatio is not connected with an action of the soul, but to well working technology (see for example the biologist Ernst Haeckel).
How an adeqution is performed can be discussed in terms of geophilosophical and epistemic conditions. Marcellos Mercados The capital reflects this. Like Dostojewski he has survived extreme situations, but in difference to Dostojewski Marcello does not construct a central idea in order to organize his expressions. Marcello uses distinctly technology in order to question what he has seen and suffered. Flint- and Paintbox – Techniques are used as optical devices who do shape another view on the phenomena to express. This enables him to step beside his powerstation of sensations and to discuss them from a different angle. Colour options and geometric constructions are such angles. They are laid out in the programm of the machines. But this angels are not focussed by a fleeing point, but by an open horizont formed by a critique on capitalism.
The Capital of Marx serves in the Capital of Mercado as an open horizont of questions (not as stock for clear ideas that may order actions and events) and as an invitation to discuss the fact of torture and cruelity in a post-colonial time.


Nils Röller