A PAST PRESENT SOUND 2012
Chiesa de Santa Cecilia a Trastevere. Rome, Italy. 2012
St. Cecilia, patroness of musicians, in her legend it states that she was beheaded all while singing and praising God, as she lay dying a martyr’s death. The church built in the 3rd century in honor of Santa Cecilia was constructed over the house of the saint. It holds her remains and one of the most exquisite examples of Baroque sculpture “The Martyrdom of Saint Cecilia” by Stefano Maderno, a marble sculpture so delicate it seems to breathe. In the middle of the chapel there is a round metal grid on the floor that connects with the remains of the early Empire house underneath; a layer of Roman past.
My first impulse was to sing something into the grid in commemoration of the saint, my voice echoing into another time, instead I decided to recite Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “Io Sono Una Forza del Passato” (I Am A Force Of The Past), a poem where Pasolini speaks with great nostalgia of the ancient ruins of the past, searching for “the brothers", in reference to artists, poets, thinkers, all the kindred spirits he so desperately longed for in his time. Kneeling on the floor, my face so close to the metal grid I could feel damp cold air coming from the rooms underground, I recited Pasolini’s words ; uniting past and present through sound with a voice echoing in the ruins and filling the space with the words of a man that lived, loved and died in Rome and like St. Cecilia: was also a martyr of his time.
The action was carried out with no previous announcement or permission from the church. The guardian at one point asked me to leave, stating that I was in a church not a stage. I kindly reminded her that Saint Cecilia had died disobeying and singing to the Lord as well and that this very church was erected on an act of disobedience. She remained silent.
I AM A FORCE OF THE PAST
I am a force of the Past.
My love lies only in tradition.
I come from the ruins, the churches,
the altarpieces, the villages
abandoned in the Appennines or foothills
of the Alps where my brothers once lived.
I wander like a madman down the Tuscolana,
down the Appia like a dog without a master.
Or I see the twilights, the mornings
over Rome, the Ciociaria, the world,
as the first acts of Posthistory
to which I bear witness, for the privilege
of recording them from the outer edge
of some buried age. Monstrous is the man
born of a dead woman’s womb.
And I, a fetus now grown, roam about
more modern than any modern man,
in search of brothers no longer alive.
IO SONO UNA FORZA DEL PASSATO
Io sono una forza del Passato.
Solo nella tradizione è il mio amore.
Vengo dai ruderi, dalle chiese,
dalle pale d’altare, dai borghi
abbandonati sugli Appennini o le Prealpi,
dove sono vissuti i fratelli.
Giro per la Tuscolana come un pazzo,
per l’Appia come un cane senza padrone.
O guardo i crepuscoli, le mattine
su Roma, sulla Ciociaria, sul mondo,
come i primi atti della Dopostoria,
cui io assisto, per privilegio d’anagrafe,
dall’orlo estremo di qualche età
sepolta. Mostruoso è chi è nato
dalle viscere di una donna morta.
E io, feto adulto, mi aggiro
più moderno di ogni moderno
a cercare fratelli che non sono più.