Prologue: A Typical Iconoclash
This image comes from a video. What does it mean? Hooligans dressed in red, with helmets and axes are smashing the reinforced window that is protecting a precious work of art. They are madly hitting the glass that splinters in every direction while loud screams of horror at their action are heard from the crowd beneath them that, no matter how furious it is, remains unable to stop the looting. Another sad case of vandalism captured by a camera of video-surveillance? No. Brave Italian firemen a few years ago risking their lives, in the cathedral of Turin, , to save the precious Shroud from a devastating fire that triggers the screams of horror from the impotent crowd that has assembled behind them. In their red uniforms, with their protective helmets, they try to smash with axes the heavily reinforced glass case that has been built around the venerable linen to protect it – not from vandalism – but from the mad passion of worshippers and pilgrims who would have stopped at nothing to tear it to pieces and obtain priceless relics. The case is so well protected against worshippers that it cannot be brought to safety away from the raging fire without this apparently violent act of glass breaking. Iconoclasm is when we know what is happening in the act of breaking and what the motivations for what appears as a clear project of destruction are; iconoclash, on the other hand, is when one does not know, one hesitates, one is troubled by an action for which there is no way to know, without further enquiry, whether it is destructive or constructive. This exhibition is about iconoclash, not iconoclasm.