Following Stanley Cohen’s assertion about acts of vandalism as “type of reality negotiation”[1], Martellata_14.09.91 aims to find out about the case of Piero Cannata as ‘another (material) way of stablishing a relationship’ with David and, in general, with art.

But to generate a chrono-material dialectical proposal on one of the most paradigmatic iconoclastic acts of the twentieth century requires taking into account some premises:

  • How to quietly approach while enthusiastically move away from Piero Cannata’s gesture?
  • How to avoid a simple pathological justification of the ‘attack’? What if the hammer blow was not a parasitic gesture for diverting the attention and worship concentrated on David? What if the martellata was a kind of ‘Pygmalionian outburst’ generated by a tremendous admiration[2]?
  • How to investigate an act of vandalism beyond the sociology of art and the theories of artistic reception without excluding these?
  • How to escape the archival paradigm as a chronological accumulation in order to generate multivocal narrations that contain the different perspectives (and voices) of what happened, including those related to the materiality of the masterwork itself?
  • In general, one studies archives and interviews individuals as they are traditionally considered sources of documentation, but how is the memory contained in the matter? Which methodologies does one need for mobilizing it?
  • How to renounce the demonstrative values of exhibiting (elucidating, explaining) in order to display some demonstrative values that are chrono-materially dialectical and the results of the research?

The different formalizations of Martellata_14.09.91 will response to these initial questions.

[1]COHEN, Stan. ‘Property destruction: Motives and Meanings’ in Vandalism. WARD, Colin, ed. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1973. Pages 23-53. The term vandalism was coined by Abbé Grégoire during the French Revolution to designate those who destroyed the artistic heritage and / or monuments. Later on, its meaning was extended to the scope of damage to any objects as long as it could be denounced as barbarous, ignorant and inartistic treatment. Iconoclasm, which was used for the first time in Greek in relation to the quarrel of Byzantine images, implies an intention or a doctrine regarding the destruction of any images and works of art. In this application I will use iconoclasm and vandalism as synonymous and indistinctly.

[2]In The Metamorphoses of Ovid (8 AD), Pygmalion is presented as a sculptor in love with a statue he had made by himself. On the other hand, in 2004 Graziella Magherini speculated about the existence of the David Syndrome, which would be like a Stockholm Syndrome caused exclusively by the famous Renaissance sculpture: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2005/11/21/1512809.htm