Jannis Kounellis, Untitled (Unveiling) (2012)
Throughout history there have been many predictions of disasters and great catastrophes, often associated with symbolic dates, or seen as the outcome of esoteric calculations – like the Maya Apocalypse of 21st December 2012.
The original meaning of the Greek word ‘Apocalypse’ - as used in the Jewish-Christian tradition - is actually rather different, signifying ‘lifting what is hiding or covering’. More specifically, Apokalypsis is also the title of the last book of the New Testament, and it relates to the revelation of the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from heaven, where darkness is defeated by the constant presence of God.
The work Untitled (Unveiling -2012) by Greek-born artist Jannis Kounellis (1936-) offers an original interpretation of the whole idea, far from an easy, superficial sensationalism. The project conveys awesomeness with great impact, seemingly posing a question: is the end of time just the catastrophic end of history as we know it, or the beginning of a new era? The installation comprises a big sack, hanging from a beam by a rope – the content hidden, but given away by its own weight. A giant cross inside the sack reveals itself by the way it shapes the canvas. The sack is stretched almost to the limit by its load, the fabric has reached tearing point, the content is ripping its casing with the sharp corners of its wooden limbs.
In the words of art critic Bruno Corà “Kounellis presents the Apocalypse-event through a symbolic vision. The essence of the work, in all its plasticity, is deliberately hidden by the artist, but detectable from the pressure created by its weight. Only if observed in the flesh can the work convey its radical poetic and spiritual message to its full potential”.
What is revealed here? If the Cross symbolises the Church – isn’t the Church the body of Christ? – then it appears as if it is hidden and wrapped in a veil, implies Kounellis. We need a revelation to be able to see it. Is this perhaps a message for the Church throughout time, while it waits to be freed from all the contradictions and ambiguities that enclose it and inhabit it and hide its truth?