Why does “concept” inspire me?

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“Untitled” Nicola Rossini, yellow Sahara stone, iron and rust, 2014, Florence (Italy)

Here I am, after 15 months of hard work around pubs and coffee shops, losing myself in the creative writing. I have not studied, read, or learned in general for all these months. However, I have been asked to transcribe on a blog post something which is very personal and brain-squeezing, by my tutors at the London College of Communication, where (Finally!) I’m attending the BA(Hones) course of Design Management and Cultures. On Friday 9th October 2015, we’ve been asked to write down, on some post-its, four things that inspire us, pick one up, and, at last, motivate our choice. My words were history, Francis Bacon, psychology and concepts. Not knowing what the future would have reserved me, I chose the most personal one, and definitely gave an indigent reason for it, in front of all my peers, which possibly was the most scaring and stressful circumstance often happening in the last period.

Seeing that I’m part of the university word after an extended period of time waiting for it, I’ll embrace this opportunity to explain better why something abstract like “concepts” inspire me.

A concept can be defined in many different ways; however the concept which inspires me the most is the intrinsic meaning of the human thought within the disciplines generated by the latter. I would take as an example Art in general, which expresses what I meant in the best way. I am intrigued by what’s inside the visual: a piece of art or a poem. What is the research on its foundations(?); what makes the artist be led on his purpose(?). I believe this is the shape of Art. The human essence which reside in a paint, collage, sculpture, book, movie, drama, etc. born from the individual’s capability of thinking, being interested, making interdisciplinary connections and acquiring knowledge, defines the fine line between being humans and animals.

“David” by Michelangelo Bonarroti, Carrara marble, 1501–1504, Accademia delle belle Arti, Florence

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In my opinion, beauty lies in the concept. When I first stared at Michelangelo’s “David”, I was enraptured by the size of the sculpture’s head and hands; later I discovered its intense meaning, namely the rebirth of man’s life on earth, school of thoughts during the Renaissance: freed from the shackles of authority, man’s mind was viewed as able to understand the universe. Man was regarded as rational, beautiful and heroic-worthy of happiness and capable of great achievement, against the previous thought which regarded man as powerless and ignorant, with blind obedience to God and his earthly spokesmen as his only recourse?

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“A Thousand Years” by Damien Hirst, 1990. The piece consists of a large vitrine containing a rotting cow’s head, flies, maggots, sugar water and a bug zapper.  The whole thing is a life-cycle diorama-drama that continues to function to this day.  Generation upon generation of flies live, eat, reproduce and die (or are unceremoniously zapped) within this enclosed environment.  Given that the average life span of a fly is three to four weeks, there have been upwards of 60 generations of flies within the piece since 1990.

I would apply the same line of reasoning on a contemporary art piece, like Damien Hirst’s “Thousand of Years”, which has been described as “shocking” or “repulsive”, actually holds a superior meaning. Hirst gets you thinking about time and the vast cycles of mortality going on, not only within the sculpture but all around us. The concept of his sculpture gets you to think about the fact that of the five billion or so people now on earth, all will be gone within, say, 100 years; Concepts lead your mind to elaborate thoughts, and that’s one of the sense of life to me.

Concepts are what move on humans lives, like the subtitle “Romantic music” on the screen to a retardate, or the sensation of touching someone’s face to a blind person: a concept is an emotion, feeling, vibe; concept is Art and humanity.

Nicole Afonso Alves Calistri

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